Tuesday, November 5, 2013

If I Ruled TO

“You guys need to remember to vote and not just to vote, but to run. So far, we’ve had up onstage for the politicians, Peggy and four white guys in suits. Does that represent who you are?”
“NOOO,” the full ballroom of over 1,000 children, youth and young adults hollers back to MP Michael Sullivan at the second annual If I Ruled TO Youth Summit at the luxurious Sheridan Centre last weekend.
From morning until night, Toronto Community Housing presented a full day of empowerment for youth throughout the Greater Toronto Area. The event offered youth speeches from members of parliament, performances from some of the best musical talent inside Canada, informative workshops and a promise of change in their communities. The day focused on urging every youth who attended to take control of their city.
“More extracurricular activities,” “more job opportunities,” and “police who serve and protect, not control,” were just some of the many answers the youth of Toronto answered back with when asked what they would do if they ruled Toronto.
Special guests such as Toronto Raptor, Terrence Ross, supermodel Stacey McKenzie and singers Jully Black and Karl Wolf, made the large-scale offer to change these infrastructures in the city all the more relatable for the youth who look up to them by using themselves as examples of how to make the impossible a reality. Black, who is from community housing herself, and Karl Wolf, who immigrated to Canada, are both no strangers to struggle and understand how important motivating the next generation is, because change is possible through the youth.
“If I can make it here, then anybody can and that’s a part of why I’m here today,” Karl Wolf explained.
After a day of speeches, panels, workshops and seminars, the youth were prepared for an evening of music from Jully Black, Karl Wolf, Glenn Lewis and many more with guest host, Mr. BET, Bow Wow. The children stood on tables, chairs and crowded around the stage, to get close to the host of “106 and Park”, snapping photos in disbelief. At one point, security lost control of the crowd, and the fans rushed the stage, before Bow Wow was escorted out of the building. But the day was not about the talent, entertainers or celebrities; the day was about the youth and lighting the spark within them to begin to believe that with enough passion and determination, no matter where they are from, they can rule TO.
We took the time out to ask a number of the people in attendance at If I Ruled TO, what does your Toronto look like in 10 to 20 years? Here’s what they had to say:
Shukri Dualeh: My Toronto in 10 to 20 years would look like a place where kids will be lining up to go get their book signed rather than collecting Jordans. I’m a promoter of literacy. I believe that through literacy, we begin to bridge some of the questions that are lingering in the back of our heads.
Dwayne Morgan: I would love to see a lot of the young people that are here across the street at city hall as the mayor, as councillors, and in positions to actually make effective change − so this is just a spark.
Glenn Lewis: The hope is that the young people that are here today understand that as a community, they need to support one another… They have to begin with supporting one another, empowering each other and showing that love to one another. In 10 to 20 years, I would love to see that kind of community and that kind of camaraderie. I think all other positive by-products of that would just naturally come from that kind of connection.
Jully Black: In 10 to 20 years, I would love to hear our Toronto, the way that we actually look. As diverse as we are in our communities, I would like to hear our music that way on a mainstream platform. I would also like to be sure that we take care of our elders, because the wisdom is preserved there and so, even though this summit is for the youth, we can’t forget about our elders.

R.I.S.E Edutainment - Toronto Legends

My Toronto Sun Column: Week 7

Amazing Race: Embarrassment of riches
From Norway to Poland, the eight remaining 'Amazing Race' teams posed and polka danced their way through this week's episode. Leaving off from last week's cliff-hanger, each team reached the pit stop to find out that they would continue racing and no one was eliminated, which came as a huge relief to Nicky and Kim, who arrived last. Starting from scratch, the teams travelled together by boat and plane to Poland, where they faced one of the most humiliating Detours yet. Each pair had to choose between posing as the famous Statue of Neptune in a black spandex onesie to collect money or dress in traditional Polish clothing and learn the polka. The majority of the teams chose the latter, but some soon found out that involved not only an embarrassing jig, but also choosing to cross-dress, as the costumes provided were for a male and female couple. Country-boy Danny sure looked pretty in that dress. When the race continued, the teams were given an opportunity to U-turn a pair. Danny and Tim, obviously bitter about the cross-dressing incident, decide to U-turn Leo and Jamal, who then chose to U-turn the bearded-duo, Brandon and Adam, forcing them both to head back to the square and pose for money as the Statue of Neptune. Going from first to last, the pair must have wished they had accepted the Express pass offer from Marie and Tim last week. Unfortunately, the U-turn caused them to fall far behind the remaining teams and Brandon and Adam were eliminated.
The Biggest Loser: Run of the treadmill
You don't need fancy equipment to lose weight, 'The Biggest Loser' competitors proved. In the first-ever 'Biggest Loser' auction, teams were given a budget of 500 BL (Big Loser) bucks to purchase the equipment they would use to lose the weight they needed to keep them safe. The white team, as a collective, chose the treadmills, as the blue team used their bucks on skipping ropes, rowing machines and weights. The red team were stuck with bags of sugar and flour, after they lost their boxing equipment to the white team when a trading voucher was thrown into the mix. When work-out time came, Tonya wasn't giving it her all, so her trainer, Dolvett sat down to talk with her about why she was holding back. Tonya broke down, speaking about her mother's drug addiction, the abuse she endured growing up and how she continued the cycle with her own children through neglect. Later, each of the competitors were given the opportunity to video chat with their families and the five minutes of footage was non-stop tears from each of them. At the weigh in, the team with the lowest combined weight loss would eliminate the player who lost the least amount. Tonya was the last player to be weighed. She broke down on the scale and announced she's forgiven her mother and had also forgiven herself. But after the speech, the scale revealed she hadn't lost any weight at all and she would be sent home. Dolvett came through for her, once again and used his trainer save on her. Looks like Tonya has a third chance at life.
Survivor: Hello ladies
Last week on Survivor, Kat's disloyalty to her alliance sealed her fate as the newest castaway on Redemption Island and this week, she completely lost it. She sobbed uncontrollably, unsure of her position in the game, as well as her position with her boyfriend Hayden. Kat's head just wasn't in the game. She lost the Redemption Island duel and was sent home for good. In the immunity and reward challenge, the tribes were tied together to complete the task, and no surprise, Tadhana came out on top, winning themselves a picnic of all-you-can-eat fried chicken. Back at the Galang camp, Laura B thought it would be in her best interest to let Vytas know he would be the one going home, as he was not part of the female alliance. But her big mouth seemed to irritate the rest of the ladies. Did she not learn anything from Kat's demise? Seeing a chance to save himself, Vytas smooth-talked the remaining women into voting off Laura B.
Dancing with the Stars: Snooki's last dance
So long Snooki. The reality-TV star and her partner Sasha Farber hung up their dancing shoes on 'Dancing With the Stars' after a Halloween special featuring make-up, costumes and thrilling dances. Visibly upset, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, who last week was told she had improved the most, was shocked. How did Bill Engvall and Emma Slater beat out the meatball? Amber Riley and Derek Hough seem to be untouchable, as they continue to dominate the season.

Q&A with Scotty ATL

Atlanta up-and-comer, Scotty ATL, was all over the map at A3C this month, hitting up the BET Music Matters, Leaders Of The New Cool showcase and Five Points showcase to perform, along with shooting some hoops at the A3C celebrity basketball game. This Southern spitter has grown a lot in the past year, and says that he has seen his hometown hip-hop festival do the same.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE SO INVOLVED IN THIS YEAR’S A3C FESTIVAL? It feels great. I’ve been working hard this year. Last year, I really wasn’t as involved; I was just here and there. But this year, it’s good to feel like you’re recognized in your own city.
WHAT IS IT LIKE FOR YOU AS AN ARTIST TO HAVE SO MUCH LOVE FROM YOUR OWN CITY? It’s dope. That’s one of my goals and that’s why, when I dropped the project, FAITH, forever Atlanta in the heart, the whole concept behind it was, ‘I want to have my city behind me before I go anywhere else.’ In Atlanta sometimes, we are known for gimmicks and that type of music, so people that have lyrics go out and get other cities behind them before they conquer their own home or before the city behind them. So for me, it means everything to have your city. When you go out and you’re a star, and you come home, you want to be able to perform and have everybody come out.
SINCE YOU’RE FROM ATLANTA, HAVE YOU SEEN THE FESTIVAL GROW WITH YOUR CAREER? My first time going to A3C, was in 2011 and I was in a cypher. And since then, I’ve seen it go from the Masquerade to a little bit bigger and now we are all over the city of Atlanta. It’s definitely a good change. I was talking to one of the guys from A3C and asking him about it and he said it was really just about them trying to give people who come to the city more of the city so they can see the different clubs and venues and make you feel like you are a part of Atlanta, instead of just being in one location. So, that’s dope.
WE’RE AT BET MUSIC MATTERS, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE SOMETHING LIKE BET POWER A SHOWCASE AT A3C? This is powerful. A lot of artists strive to be on a level of BET or MTV and this is a platform that is one of the biggest in the world. To have them staff an event like this, just makes it all the way official.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU? I’m about to drop a project with DJ BurnOne called Spaghetti Junction, so it’s been a lot of craziness and business since my last project and this is like a representation of that. Spaghetti Junction is a spot in Atlanta, it’s a highway, it’s crazy. When you get through it, you’re on your way to where you want to go and that’s what this project represents for me. I’ve got that coming. I just dropped a video with Lecrae earlier this week called “Fuss N’ Fight” so we’re working.

Ab-Soul in Toronto for the Smokers Club Tour

Danny Brown and Action Bronson in Toronto

When Danny Brown couldn’t get cross the Canadian border for his Calgary stop of the 2 High 2 Die tour with Action Bronson, many people gave up faith that the XXX artist would ever get in and the Canadian tour would be a bust. That isn’t to say that Action Bronson wouldn’t put on a good show, after all, the last time he was in Toronto, the nearly-300-pound rapper crowd surfed at the Hoxton, but Brown’s Canadian fans were tired of the dream-crushing border. When it came time for the Toronto stop, however, the unexpected happened, and Danny got in.
The anticipation to witness rap history, with Danny’s first Canadian show resonated through the packed Danforth Music Hall as the DJ warmed up the crowd. As Bronson’s DJ set up onstage, he could be heard shouting out profanities over the mic, signaling his fans into screams of applause as he casually walked out on stage to perform tracks such as, “Strictly 4 My Jeeps” and “Bird On A Wire”. Bronson even took the opportunity to premiere two tracks off of his upcoming project Blue Chips 2, which he recently announced would be out in November.
In an act that has created a lot of controversy, Bronson invited a female onstage, where he lifted her face forward over his shoulders before continuing on with his set. For anyone who listens to Bronson’s music and/or has seen his live show, this should come as no surprise, but reviews have stated otherwise, and Bronson was sure to share his responses to the matter over Twitter, following the show.
After Bronson, was the moment so many fans had been waiting for, as Danny Brown hopped onstage and began his insane set, as he performed bangers such as “Witit”, “Blunt After Blunt”, (while smoking with fans) and “Black Brad Pitt”. Danny, who is known for his interesting range in voices, executed them perfectly; as his highs and lows resonated through the crowd; fans moshed and danced and screamed along with him. For someone that is constantly looked at in the media as a gimmick and non conventional artist, Danny put on an intense show with just the music, and it couldn’t have been a better show. One thing is for certain though; it’s not possible to experience the true genius of Danny Brown until experiencing his live set.

Q&A with Jimmy B

On one of the first very cool fall days of 2013, rapper Jimmy B sits at the basketball court he grew up playing at in Toronto’s Scarborough community, the day before he and his SmashMouth homies will head out on the Canadian leg of the Smokers Club Tour alongside Ab-Soul and Joey Bada$$. The grind is real for the young up-and-comer. He just finished his tour stops with Flatbush Zombies and is now heading out on the road again. He juggles this while preparing to put out his new project, L.O.R.D.S. Here, the young emcee with a laid-back sound, shares insight on the upcoming project and what life is really like as an opening act on tour.
WE’RE HERE AT THE BASKETBALL COURT YOU GREW UP PLAYING AT, HOW HAS YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD INFLUENCED YOUR MUSIC? It had everything to do with it. If you listen to the music, there are people’s names in there that I grew up with, there are certain situations that we’ve been through in this area that happened and transferred over to the music. We’ve seen a lot of things here, seen people get locked up, we’ve been through things of our own so that all just translated to the music and it is the environment that has everything to do with the music.
YOU ARE GETTING READY TO PUT OUR YOUR NEW PROJECT, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PROJECT AND WHAT IT REPRESENTS FOR YOU AS AN ARTIST? The project just represents everything that I’ve been up to up to this point as far as life goes and as far as music goes. It’s called L.O.R.D.S. and I use it as an acronym that stands for “life only respects the successful,” because me and my whole team are trying to be lords and whenever people think of lords, they think of gods, so we are just trying to be that in our own society. You only get respect in this life when you are successful. The whole project is just me trying to be successful when I’m still stuck in a place where I’m not.
WHERE DO YOU THINK THAT YOU FIT IN, IN THE TORONTO AND CANADIAN HIP-HOP SCENE? I just feel there are a lot of Toronto artists and everyone is doing their thing and shit, but I don’t feel like anyone is really telling the story of everyday life in Toronto. In Toronto, I feel like you’re either doing gangster rap or you took the Drake route, where you are making that singing/rapping music. There are not a lot of artists that are on a middle ground and if there are, they only appeal to a certain amount of people. I just want to broaden that horizon and appeal to everyone and the everyday person. You don’t have to be a gangster to know what a gangster’s mentality is. You don’t have to be a prep to know what a prep’s mentality is.
YOU OPEN FOR QUITE A NUMBER OF SHOWS, SUCH AS THE FLATBUSH ZOMBIES AND THE SMOKER’S CLUB TOUR RECENTLY, WHAT IS LIFE LIKE FOR AN OPENING ACT ON TOUR? Honestly, it is a bit of what it’s cracked up to be, but it is also smoke and mirrors. You’ve got to deal with janky promoters, when you are an opening act, no one really knows who you are, you showing up at these venues, you’ve got to explain to them who we are. The dope part of it is the performance part and chilling backstage and meeting people, but the smoke and mirrors part are long ass rides, you’re exhausted by the time you even get to the show and it takes an hour and a half to get settled in. It is an excruciating process, but it’s dope as hell, because you are on the road with people you work with, friends and shit and you know you get to party here and then.
DO YOU EAT FROM IT OR IS IT AN INVESTMENT? Right now, it’s an investment, because I believe if the music is good enough and if the person works hard enough, then all of that will come in time. A lot of people in my position would be out here trying to get a cheque off of everything, but me, I’m not doing this to be famous or to get money, but I’m doing this, because I actually love to make music.
WHEN IT COMES TO PERFORMING AND MUSIC, WHAT IS YOUR END GOAL? The end goal is to be the best at what I do, build a business and make sure everyone around me eats.