Tag Archives: Drake
Rap music has changed significantly since the early days of The Sugarhill Gang, Whodini, and Grand Master Flash. Back then, it was a light and fun affair with mostly clean lyrics. It took a long time before its funky cold medinas spread to the rest of the country from the Torontonian bubble and it proved itself to be more than a passing fad. Unlike other genres of music, when it comes to rap, writers tend to critique an album in terms of whether or not the author is offering something new which is not entirely fair. As long as people are continuing to enjoy an artist’s music, there is no need to reinvent oneself, and this statement certainly rings true for Drake.
The “Drizzy” one is without a doubt the most successful Canadian rapper both within and without the country. He has won three JUNOs and a US Grammy, scored a double platinum album, and authored ten Top 40 singles with an additional four as a featured artist, most of which have charted internationally. His third album, Nothing Was The Same, once again offers his introspective, nasally discourse, mood swings, and occasional singing atop lavish percussion, ghostly loops, and melancholic-claustrophobic soundscapes. At times, he pours some vibrant new wave and off-kilter R&B into the mix broadening the music’s appeal. Guests appearing on the work include Jay Z, 2 Chainz, Detail, Big Sean, Majid Jordan, and Jhene Aiko.
A batch of sumptuous new releases this week, some from artists with whom you are familiar and others perhaps not. But there is something for everyone with the diversity in genres represented. Now available is Canadian multiplatinum rapper Drake‘s new album Nothing Was the Same. Four-time JUNO winner Matthew Good‘s Arrows of Desire is available for some standard rock. For metal lovers, check out new band Dissension and their debut, Of Time and Chronic Disease. Bellevue is the new LP from JUNO-nominated electropoppers Misteur Valaire.
For those of you hungry for some funky jazz, there is JUNO-winning Manteca‘s latest, with perhaps the coolest album title of the year, Monday Night at the Mensa Disco. For jazz with some world music thrown in, 8-string guitarist Thomas Carbou has released Hekate III. Classical music has been championed by chamber ensemble La Nef‘s Trobairitz: Poems of Women Troubadours, a breathtaking work. We even have some children’s music by sweet entertainers Atchoum (Dans ma tete). Alternative folk artist from Hamilton Scott Orr has come out with A Long Life and seasoned singer Jean Nichol with Passion. Roots and traditional music presents itself with both veteran artists like multiplatinum Lynda Lemay (Feautres et pastels) as well as the newer Klo Pelgag (L’alchimie des monstres). All-female country rockers Ladies of the Canyon have released Diamond Heart. And last but not least, the artistic Jason Bajada has launched Le resultat de mes betises which is simply smashing.
The Grammy Awards are the U.S. equivalent of the JUNOs. They differ though in that JUNO awards, unless in the international categories, are given to Canadian artists. Grammy awards are given out to anyone in the world, provided their music was popular within the borders of the United States. In scrolling through the list of nominees to find Canadian artists, we found some amusing category titles. First off, given that the definition of a song is “a piece of music that is sung”, the title “Best Rap Song” is a contradiction in terms. We can at least give them credit for not using the often misplaced term “hip hop” which refers to the dance that goes with rap music rather than rap music itself. Another peculiar one is that the U.S. uses the term “Latin” to refer not to music that is performed in the Latin language but in Spanish. Latin is much closer to Italian than to Spanish. Did it not come from Italy? Let’s get the terminology right, guys, lest the rigatoni masters squirt you with pasta sauce and the sombrero dudes demand Texas is returned to Mexico.
The other bizarre thing about the Grammy Awards, and I suppose the same is true of the JUNOs, is that there are songs and albums nominated that were big prior to 2012 (i.e. old).
Congratulations to our hard-working Canadian artists on the nominations, eh.
SONG OF THE YEAR
Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call My Maybe”
BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE
Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call My Maybe”
BEST DANCE/ELECTRONICA ALBUM
Deadmau5, > Album Title Goes Here <
BEST TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM
Michael Bublé, Christmas
BEST SCORE SOUNDTRACK FOR VISUAL MEDIA
Howard Shore, Hugo
BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA
Arcade Fire, “Abraham’s Daughter” for The Hunger Games
BEST TRADITIONAL R&B PERFORMANCE
Melanie Fiona, “Wrong Side of a Love Song”
BEST R&B SONG
Tamia, “Beautiful Surprise”
BEST R&B ALBUM
Tamia, Beautiful Surprise
BEST RAP PERFORMANCE
BEST RAP SONG
Drake, “The Motto”
BEST RAP ALBUM
Drake, Take Care
BEST NEW AGE ALBUM
Loreena McKennitt, Troubadours on the Rhine
BEST LONG FORM MUSIC VIDEO
Tegan and Sara, Get Along
Gold albums include Coeur de Pirate’s Blonde. Marc Hervieux has scored a pair: A Napoli released last year and Le Premier Noël released in 2009. Wooden Arms, Patrick Watson’s 2009 album, has also gone gold. Serena Ryder’s 2006 single “Weak in the Knees” has been certified gold as well.
Rapper-actor Drake has a couple of new certifications. “Take Care”, title track of his 2011 album, has gone gold, while “Headlines” is now platinum. Other platinum singles are My Darkest Days’ 2010 song “Porn Star Dancing” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”.
Before Canadian artists begin cranking out new albums this year, we wanted to conduct a poll to see what your favourite Canadian album was last year. For this particular poll, we’re just going to limit answers to the five best-selling 2011 Canadian albums worldwide. Perhaps you didn’t like any of them or perhaps you liked all of them. But, if you had to choose one, what would it be?
Feist was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia but the family relocated to Regina and then Calgary. In 1991, while a teenager, she formed a punk band in Calgary. She experienced vocal cord problems in 1995 and relocated to Toronto a year later where she worked with various local indie artists. She recorded her own album on an independent label which was produced by Dan Kurtz who later created Dragonette. In 2001, with friends, she formed popular indie band Broken Social Scene. She released the acclaimed album Let It Die in 2004 and her cover of the Bee Gees “Inside and Out” was popular. She won the JUNO for Best New Artist in 2005. A remix album, Open Season, came the following year. Her big breakthrough was in 2007 when she released double-platinum The Reminder. It won the JUNO for album of the year, track “1234″ song of the year, and Feist, herself, artist of the year. In all, she has won 8 JUNO awards. “1234” was the 35th most popular song of 2008. Feist released the album Metals in 2011.
Rocker Marie-Mai (Bouchard) was a finalist during the first season (2003) of Star Académie, somewhat of a French version of Canadian Idol. She grew up learning piano and developed a love and a talent for singing. Her grandmother mentored her and was the one who encouraged her to audition for the reality TV show. She released her gold debut album in 2004. She became noticed in Europe opening for Garou. Marie-Mai’s popular standing was sealed with the release of her second (gold) album, Dangereuse attraction, which won the Félix for rock album of the year. “Mentir” was nominated for the Félix song of the year, and she performed “Emmène-Moi” at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. She released her 3rd album, Version 3.0, in 2009. It was certified platinum and won her 2nd rock album of the year award. Both “C’est Moi” and “Comme Avant” (co-written by Rob Wells) were nominated for Félix awards. Marie-Mai won the Félix female artist of the year award in both 2010 and 2011. She recorded the song “Kill the Lights” with David Usher (Moist) and provided vocals for the French version of Simple Plan’s “Jet Lag”. In 2012, she had the biggest Francophone song of the year, “Sans cri ni haine”, a French-language cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend”. It won the Song of the Year Felix. She released album Miroir which was quickly certified gold.
This Vancouver hard rock band has enjoyed three songs in the year-end Top 100 singles charts: “Best I Ever Had” (#87, 2008), “Money Honey” (#67, 2008), and “Too Pretty” (#100, 2009)—all from their second (gold) album Life, Love, and Lies. State of Shock is special in that it is a gender-combo band, including both male and female members. They released their debut album in 2004 but shot to stardom with their second release. Their lead singer is Cameron Melnyk, originally from Edmonton and of Ukrainian descent. They have toured with Nickelback and Puddle of Mud. State of Shock released its third album, Rock ‘n’ Roll Romance, in 2011.
This band is from Mission, B.C. and has been more successful in the singles than the albums department. Like State of Shock, they have enjoyed three songs in the year-end Top 100 charts: “When I’m with You” (#83, 2008), “G-Get Up and Dance” (#48, 2009), and “Give Him Up” (#84, 2010). “Tongue Tied” was a hit in 2007. The band is named after lead singer Dave Faber and has gone through several line-up changes, the only other consistent member being Jeremy “Krikit” Liddle. They shifted from standard pop rock fare to a more synth-rock sound on their second album.
Toronto’s Aubrey Drake Graham is a Canadian rap artist. He became known as an actor first, however, playing the character Jimmy Brooks on the television series Degrassi: The Next Generation. His recording career was launched when he was signed by American rapper Lil Wayne’s company. He released an EP first (in 2009) and his debut (platinum) album, Thank Me Later, was released the following year. Drake often collaborates with other artists in his recorded singles. “Headlines” is his only gold-certified single. “Best I Ever Had” made the year-end Top 100 in 2009; “Find Your Love” and “Over” did in 2010, when he won two JUNO awards, including one for best new artist. In 2011, he recorded hits with Barbados’ Rihanna and Trinidadian-American Nicki Minaj. That year he released his second full-length studio album, Take Care, with contributions by Chantal Kreviazuk, among others. Drake’s father is African American and his mother is Jewish Canadian.
Edmonton is not known for churning out popular rock bands. But all that changed with the advent of The Stereos who have a gold album under their belt and have managed three year-end Top 100 singles: “Summer Girl” (#35, 2009), “Throw Ya Hands Up” (#85, 2009), and “Turn It Up” (#80, 2010). The first two were double-platinum digital downloads and the latter platinum. The Stereos are led by Pat Kordyback. They formed in 2008 under the moniker Stand By Me, changed it to Turn It Up, and finally settled on The Stereos. They rose to prominence by performing on MuchMusic show disBAND and were judged by Gene Simmons of Kiss. Universal Music Canada signed them immediately. After their gold debut album in 2009, they released a second album the following year.
LIGHTS is a female recording artist and synthesizer virtuoso. She was born in Timmins, Ontario but moved around during her childhood, living in Jamaica, The Philippines, and Vancouver, before settling in Toronto in her teens. In 2006, she got a job with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and composed music for television. Her talents led to a record deal with Sire / Warner Music and her song “Drive My Soul” became a Top 20 hit and the 70th biggest song of the year 2008. Before she even released her debut album, she received the JUNO award for best new artist. The Listening came out in 2009 and was certified gold. Her second album, Siberia, came out in 2011 and was certified gold in 2012. A departure from her more poppy-sounding debut, Siberia showcased a more creative electronic rock sound and drew critical acclaim.
The most significant event that occurred in the latter years of the first decade of the new millennium was that, for the first time in music history, a Canadian of east-Asian descent scored a radio hit. Canadians of Asian descent make up over 12% of the population but have seen little representation in the music industry. Maple Ridge B.C.’s Elise Estrada, born in the Philippines, recorded the R&B hit “Unlove You” which peaked at #11 on the singles chart.
This period also witnessed the 3rd best-selling Canadian single of all-time internationally, after Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” and Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”. Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” sold 7.3 million copies worldwide.
Edmonton, which had been left off the map in terms of churning out significant recording artists, contributed two during this time: Kreesha Turner and the Stereos.
Canadian music embraced further diversity. For the first time in a while, Canada gave the world a new male teen international superstar. A couple new electronic artists achieved success. Rock trio Metric released the single “Help, I’m Alive” which peaked at #21 on the singles chart in early 2009. LIGHTS, a female singer-songwriter, won the best new artist JUNO after her electronic pop song “Drive My Soul” became a Top 20 hit. Much of this diversity, however, involved taking on American styles of music, like R&B and rap. This coincided with Billboard magazine’s taking over the Canadian singles and albums charts in 2007.
In the late 2000s, a large portion of Canadian music began to emulate styles popular south of the border. A number of new Canadian artists began performing rap and R&B music. Relatively-speaking, such music did not sell well domestically. Most of these American-style artists arose from Toronto and were heavily promoted by Toronto-based MuchMusic. Although many of them were of Jamaican ancestry, they did not perform reggae music.
While it is true that Canadian artists like Avril Lavigne, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Raine Maida were busy writing and producing songs for American idol winners like Kelly Clarkson, and, in so doing, somewhat Canadianizing American pop, the American influence on Canadian music was much more apparent.
Artists who continued to perform Canadian styles of music began shedding their Canadian pronunciation, adopting American accents. And bad grammar became trendy. By the end of the decade these tendencies had become quite standard.
We can only speculate as to the motivations behind such a trend. Perhaps with the advent of digital music and the looming threat of rampant online piracy, record labels were pushing Canadian recording artists to tailor their music and accents to American styles in order to maximize chances of being successful in the world’s largest market for music. Ironically, many of the artists who did this did not end up making names for themselves in the republic. The most successful Canadian artists during the latter years of the decade were those who made music that was very Canadian: Michael Buble, Avril Lavigne, and Nickelback. The only new artists to sell many records during this period were Feist and Justin Bieber.
Although the year was heavily dominated by pop-punk superstar Avril Lavigne, the Juno gala held the following year gave all three major awards (song, album, and artist of the year) to a folk-pop singer from Amherst, N.S. called Feist. She had received some attention in 2005 for her cover of the Bee Gees’ song “Inside and Out”. Juno-winning The Reminder was certified double-platinum. Feist’s song “1234″ was a Top 10 hit in Britain and the U.S. and made it to #3 at home. In the late 2000s, Feist was the most successful new artist at the Junos, winning eight of 11 nominations.
Five-piece, Vancouver-based, punky grunge band State of Shock scored a Top 10 hit called “Money Honey”. They managed three songs in the year-end Top 100 charts by the end of the decade. They were one of the few male-female combo bands.
Toronto’s Jully Black also made the Top 10 with her cover of the 1960s song “Seven Day Fool”. In Québec, female rocker Anik Jean enjoyed the hit “Oh mon chéri” and Jonathan Painchaud scored with “Pousse, Pousse”. But it was rocker Marie-Mai, Star Académie finalist who shone the brightest. She won four Félix awards, released gold and platinum albums, and recorded songs with David Usher (Moist) and Simple Plan. Although she did not see any hit singles, Peterborough, Ontario’s indie folk singer Serena Ryder scored a pair of gold albums and was honoured with the JUNO for best new artist.
With the handover of the official Canadian charts going to Billboard magazine, there was no year-end chart for the year, and we do not have access to the weekly singles charts for the first half of the year. Nevertheless, we have attempted to piece together data on some of the hits this year which you can find HERE. In brief, besides the new artists mentioned above, Avril Lavigne, Nickelback / Chad Kroeger, Nelly Furtado, Finger Eleven, Michael Bublé, Bedouin Soundclash, and Céline Dion enjoyed big hits.
Like R&B singer Jully Black, Toronto’s Kardinal Offishall (born Jason Harrow) is of Jamaican ancestry. His singles have done much better than his albums. This year, he scored the international hit “Dangerous” (11th biggest of 2008) with American Akon which won the Juno for song of the year. The two collaborated again in “Beautiful” and “Body Bounce” in subsequent years. In 2011, he recorded the song “Ghetto Love” with Montreal’s Karl Wolf, a rap-reggae version of Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love”. Kardinal Offishall has won 3 JUNO awards.
Edmonton-born Kreesha Turner, whose mother is Jamaican, started her career by performing 70s-style R&B and scored the Top 10 hit “Don’t Call Me Baby”. South of her, in Calgary, Andrew F became a one-hit wonder (so far) with his punky song “The End”. Marie-Pierre Arthur scored the Quebec hit “Pourquoi” as did Yann Perreau with “Beau comme on s’aime”. Gypsy jazz band The Lost Fingers, from Quebec City, scored a platinum album called Lost in the 80s.
Montreal’s pop pianist Béatrice Martin, under the stage name Coeur de Pirate, released her debut album this year. It was certified platinum and was nominated for Francophone album of the year at the JUNOs.
LIGHTS is not a band but a female singer-songwriter based in Toronto. She became one of the most successful electronic pop musicians in the late 2000s, winning the Juno award for Best New Artist. Her “Drive My Soul” was the 70th biggest song of 2008.
Vancouver’s Phillipine-born beauty contest winner Elise Estrada scored the hit “Unlove You” which finished in the Top 100 year-end chart of 2008. As far as we know, she is the first Canadian of east-Asian descent to score a hit on the radio in Canada, a remarkable achievement.
Mission, B.C.’s Faber Drive were signed onto Chad Kroeger’s label 604 Records and performed mainstream pop. “When I’m with You” made the year-end Top 100 and the following year their “Get Up and Dance” was the 48th biggest song of the year.
Many new artists emerged this last year of the decade.
Lebanese-born Montrealer Karl Wolf began performing R&B and his cover of Toto’s “Africa” was the biggest song of the year by a Canadian artist, finishing the year in 9th spot.
A Canadian rapper had a huge hit south of the border. “Best I Ever Had” was the 22nd biggest song in the U.S. (79th in Canada) thanks to Toronto’s Aubrey Drake Graham, known simply as Drake. He started out as an actor playing the character Jimmy Brooks on the television series “Degrassi: The Next Generation”. Drake’s father is an African American from Memphis, Tennessee, and his mother is Jewish Canadian. He started out by collaborating with American rap artists like Kanye West, Eminem, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne, signing onto the latter’s record label. Drake’s album Thank Me Later managed to go platinum in Canada.
Outselling Drake was a youngster from Stratford, ON named Justin Bieber who managed one platinum and two double-platinum albums. “One Time” and “One Less Lonely Girl” were big hits this year. He became successful by uploading videos of his songs onto Youtube. This led to a recording contract. Although primarily a pop artist, some of his songs feature rap segments from American artists.
Besides Nelly Furtado and Shawn Desman, another Portuguese-Canadian popped out of obscurity; in fact, he is Desman’s younger brother, Danny Fernandes. His “Fantasy” was a big hit this year.
Born in Scotland, naturalized Canadian soul singer Johnny Reid, despite no hit singles, put out an album that went double-platinum this year: Dance with Me. Divine Brown was yet another Toronto R&B singer to arise, though she did not score any significant hits until she teamed up with Nelly Furtado and performed “Sunglasses” (#22).
Toronto’s Suzie McNeil had entered a CBS reality show called Rock Star: INXS to find a new lead singer for the band. She was the last female singer to be eliminated from the competition, having gained by then considerable respect. She relocated to Los Angeles to develop her career. Her “Supergirl” made the year-end Top 100 this year.
Also from Toronto was Melanie Fiona, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Guyana. Her “Give It to Me Right” also made the Top 100 of 2009.
Besides Kreesha Turner, Edmonton produced the band the Stereos who scored two big hits this year: “Summer Girl” (#2) and “Throw Your Hands Up” (#3). The Stereos made a kind of music that blended all the current popular styles: grunge, dance, and rap.
Originally from Trois-Rivières, Québec, The New Cities set up base in Montréal and released their debut LP this year. Gold single “Dead End Countdown” was a big new wave hit, 69th of the year.
Links to Related Posts
Lists of Canadian Songs in the Top 100 of 2008 and 2009 in Canada are HERE.
Mini profiles on semi-major artists Feist, Marie-Mai, State of Shock, Faber Drive, Drake, The Stereos, and LIGHTS are HERE.
Major profile on Elise Estrada is HERE.
Major profile on Justin Bieber is HERE.
A list of Juno and Félix song of the year nominees and winners for the decade 2000-2009 is HERE.
A list of best-selling Canadian albums 2000-2009 is HERE.
A list of best-selling Canadian singles 2000-2009 is HERE.