Co-presented with Hip Hop Education Center
With a career spanning over three decades in Toronto Hip Hop, Jeff ‘Spade’ Duke is Toronto’s OG b-boy having mastered the elements of graffiti (as Crazy Roc of the Graffiti Knights), breaking (as a dancer for Michie Mee and Intrikit), and emceeing (as the legendary emcee Spade of Citizen Kane). Known in the early days of the culture as the Hip Hop barber and eventually becoming a music producer and the owner of Treehouse Records, Jeff is a Hip Hop artist, innovator and entrepreneur.
To celebrate his artistic legacy, we begin with a conversation moderated by Michele Geister - creator of MuchMusic’s RapCity - and commentary from special guests, and will close with a special screening of director Alison Duke’s Raisin’ Kane: A Rapumentary which highlights the journey of Citizen Kane to promote their sophomore album Deliverance.
Jeff ‘Spade’ Duke
Rapper/Recording Artist/B-Boy/Graffiti Artist
Jeff ‘Spade’ Duke is a b-boy (a dancer for Michie Mee), graffiti writer (Crazy Roc of the Graffiti Knights), emcee (Spade of the Canadian Hip Hop duo Citizen Kane), and independent record label owner (Treehouse Records). Raised in Scarborough, Toronto, together with Rob "Blye" Paris, Jeff released his debut single, "Soul Survivor" in 1995, his debut album The Epic in 1997, and then his sophmore album Deliverance in 1999 - a release that was considered to be one of the best Canadian Hip Hop offerings of the ‘90’s. Citizen Kane’s efforts to promote Deliverance, in the face of Canadian hip hop's struggle to gain commercial and critical attention in that era, was filmed by Duke's sister — Alison Duke — for the National Film Board of Canada’s documentary Raisin' Kane: A Rapumentary (released in 2001). The duo was also nominated for a Juno Award — first in 1999 for Rap Recording of the Year for their EP The Epic, and then again in 2000 for their album Deliverance. In May 2020, Citizen Kane teamed up with TopLeft Recordings to put out the Scartown Unreleased ClassIcs mixtape - a collection of past recordings from 2001 to 2005 that were never released - which was mixed by DJ Law and mastered by Quarter Inch Kings.
Moderator, Q and A
Creator of MuchMusic's RapCity/Artivist/Community Builder
Raised in Kitchener-Waterloo before moving to Toronto in 1985, Michele Geister is a creator, producer, director and feature writer of iconic content for television, radio and print, on international networks in Canada, Jamaica and Europe. Recognized for her contributions toward the development of the Canadian Black and Hip Hop music industries through her MuchMusic series: Soul in the City and RapCity; she is also the creator and original director of Jamaica's beloved morning show Smile Jamaica, and the independent lifestyle series – Island Dreams and Vibes Cuisine. In addition to her work in Hip Hop, she is also a go-to media consultant for veteran and new wave reggae stars. More recently, she serves as Media Director of the Source Farm Ecovillage–an intentional off-grid community in Jamaica that is active in its efforts to combat climate change by prioritizing food security, permaculture design, and traditional plant medicine therapies. Invested in edutainment for young people, she is also the co-creator of the Unuh game app and learning management system that uses neuro linguistic programming principles to assist youth with their personal development.
Opening & Closing Remarks
Marcus Singleton a.k.a. iomos marad
Community Connector, Hip Hop Education
Marcus is originally from the Englewood Community in the South Side of Chicago. He is a conscious Hip-Hop artist/educator who is an advocate for Black students. He completed his Masters of Education in Social Justice Education and is currently a Ph.D student in the Social Justice Department at The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Dr. rosalind hampton.
His research focuses on Critical Hip-Hop Pedagogy and Critical Race reading practices within Black Studies. Using Critical Hip-Hop Pedagogy and Critical Race reading practices, the goal is to create counter-spaces of resistance with Black students who are willing to move collaboratively and transnationally to challenge and deconstruct institutions (schools & prisons) constructed by eurocentric-colonialistic ideas and methods of teaching.
His research interests include the mixed methodologies of:
- Black Emancipatory Action Research (BEAR);
- Critical Race Theory (CRT) reading practices;
- Youth Action Participatory Research (YPAR).
The goal again, is to create counter-spaces and platforms for critical-creative art based practices for Black students to reclaim their voice and their African/Caribbean/ Afro-Latino/ Indigenous ways of learning. Marcus contends that as Black students begin to take ownership and reclaim their voice and develop their own pedagogies and methodologies for learning, they will be able to counter colonial eurocentric institutions (schools & prisons) that continue to uphold anti-Black, oppressive teaching approaches as a weapon aimed against Black students versus using education and pedagogy as a liberatory practice for Black students.
Dr. Francesca D’Amico-Cuthbert
Francesca D’Amico-Cuthbert is an award-winning historian of American and Canadian Hip Hop culture, the creative industries, and the music marketplace. She holds a Ph.D. in History from York University in Toronto, Canada (2019) and has served as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto (2020-2022) and the University of Calgary (2022-2023). Her doctoral research traced how American emcees in the era of mass incarceration constructed complex ethnographies of urban spaces, transformed dispositions of power, and unmasked the modes and mechanisms of a persistent and haunting coloniality in the afterlives of American slavery. Her recent postdoctoral research explores Canadian Hip Hop’s relationship to national mythmaking, commerce, anti-Black market segmentation and the availability of state revenue streams and marketplace exposure. Her research has been published in: #HipHopEd: The Compilation on Hip Hop Education, The Journal of Canadian Historical Association, Canadian Journal of History, Musicworks, and The Dance Current.
As an Hip Hop educator Francesca has taught several courses on the histories of popular culture, including “Hip Hop and the City” – a course that explores Hip Hop’s evolution from a translocal urban art form to a global commodity. In addition to being a multi-disciplinary creative with training in vocal and instrumental music, dance, and the dramatic arts, Francesca also serves as the Chief Research Officer at the New York City based Hip Hop Hop Education Center where she works collaboratively to establish Hip Hop Education standards and the professionalization of the field.
Emcee, B-boy, DJ
Lyndon “Mathematik” Dash is a multi-disciplinary artist who began as a and eventually became an emcee, DJ and record producer. Beginning his emcee career as a member of the Hip Hop crew Down to Erf, Mathematik has collaborated with K-Cut, Sic Sense, Citizen Kane, Saukrates, Dream Warriors, and Bahamadia. After releasing Down to Erf’s self-titled album, he signed with Beat Factory and released his debut album Ecology in 1999. In 2005 he released his follow-up album No Division, and two years later released No Division 2.1. After more than a decade of recording inactivity, he returned in 2019 with ReAL/iS-HiM. In that same year, he collaborated with S-ky The Cookinjax and Dan-e-o on the single, “Mathuvision.” And in 2020, Mathematik would release his album H2O.
In 1989, Main Source released their first independent 12" single, "Think" b/w "Atom", under the mentorship of producer/engineer Paul C. On July 17, 1989, Paul C was murdered in his home; K-Cut later stated that Main Source "basically inherited Paul C's style" and strove to "carry the torch" of his sound going forward. During this period, K-Cut helped teach DJ Premier sampling techniques on the E-mu SP-1200. After self-releasing their second 12" single "Watch Roger Do His Thing" in 1990, the group signed to Wild Pitch Records.
In 1991, the group released their debut album, Breaking Atoms, which is regarded as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. Although Large Professor produced the majority of the album, K-Cut was praised for his "creative, energetic scratching", particularly on the track "Peace Is Not the Word to Play", which he produced. Also that year, K-Cut's production appeared on Queen Latifah's album Nature of a Sista', and he produced the bulk of The Black Tie Affair, an album by Toronto rapper Maestro Fresh Wes, which was certified gold in Canada.
The following year, K-Cut produced the Main Source single "Fakin' the Funk", which appeared on the White Men Can't Rap soundtrack and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. In 1993, he produced the Fu-Schnickens single "What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock)", featuring Shaquille O'Neal, which peaked at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold in the United States. That year, Large Professor left Main Source due to business differences, with K-Cut taking over as the main producer for their 1994 album Fuck What You Think. The album's single, "What You Need", was sampled for Madonna's 1995 worldwide hit "Human Nature", which credits K-Cut as a songwriter.
By the late 1990s, K-Cut moved back to Toronto, further contributing his production to the city's hip hop scene. In 1997, he produced the Infinite single "Gotta Get Mine" (featuring Divine Brown) and contributed to Citizen Kane's EP The Epic, both of which were nominated for a Juno Award for Best Rap Recording. He also produced two tracks for Choclair's 1999 debut Ice Cold, which won the aforementioned Juno Award.