In an age where appropriation has become a talking point for cultural awareness building and education, Hart House Hip Hop Cafe wants to explore the critical question Is Hip Hop Still A Black Art Form?
Hip Hop has become so normalized and embraced by a global audience that it’s easy to forget the origin story of Hip Hop. We intend to discuss the ways Hip Hop has evolved into outlets for artists of different backgrounds and musical genres to perform or experiment with. Considering the roots of Hip Hop originate from specific Black culture narratives, we hope to engage Black, Indigenous, and Asian lived-experience and explore how each of these perspectives intersect and engage with Hip Hop Culture. We hope that this conversation will create a space where Hip Hop can be seen as a vehicle of solidarity in order to mobilize movements toward collective social action.
Some of the questions this event will unpack include looking at the entry point, for each artist to Hip Hop, how did each of them first become introduced to Hip Hop and what made it resonate so deeply with them? We also seek to understand more fully our main question by probing into “what makes art a Black expression?” and “What are the intersections of Black, Indigenous, and Asian experiences within Hip Hop?”
We hope that this conversation can add insight into Hip Hop's influence while building an appreciation of its roots.
Pooky G a.k.a. Roni Gauthier
Artist, Model, Actor
Pooky G - POOKY G a.k.a Roni Gauthier is a female Indigenous hip hop artist, model and actor born and raised in the Northside &inner city of Edmonton Alberta. Pooky G and her Ep Album “So Far So Hood” can be found on many platforms through distro. She is dedicated to her time and energy. she has made it one of her passions to facilitate empowerment workshops in indigenous communities, to help gain the mastery of life.
Boslen is a born trailblazer. The 22-year-old hip-hop experimenter lives in Vancouver, and its people have become key to the way he understands himself and his art. A land of contrasts—snowy peaks and warm water, beautiful nature and busy streets—it’s the perfect home for an artist who reconciles disparate energies, weaving together styles and sounds that don't intuitively connect. DUSK to DAWN, his Capitol Records debut, furthers this adventurous approach, hypnotically mixing trap, pop, punk, and rock melodies, and it’s also directly inspired by his city—a place that drives him to be different, to strive for more, to achieve greatness when no one expects him to.
The simmering slow jam “Note to the City,” featuring local legends Rascalz, makes his affection explicit. It sounds like he’s singing about a lover, but as he croons, it becomes clear that he’s putting on for the place that made him. What he’s connected to most since moving there, he says, “is the feeling of being an underdog.” It’s something that makes sense to him as an artist who exists at the margins between scenes. And part of being an underdog is proving people wrong, succeeding despite the odds, which is Boslen’s whole goal. “I want it the most,” he says.
Growing up amid farmland in Chilliwack, BC, hip-hop wasn’t a big part of Boslen’s adolescence, at least until his mom and stepdad briefly separated, and Kid Cudi provided a crutch. “I was trying to protect my mental health as a 12-year-old kid,” he recalls. “I put in my headphones and listened to ‘Up, Up and Away,’ over and over and over again.” He eventually started writing his own music during another hard time, shortly after he arrived at the University of Victoria and back-to-back ACL tears sabotaged his rugby scholarship and plans for a future in sports.
Boslen, the artist, emerged from those emotional experiments in 2018, when he dropped out of school, moved to North Vancouver, and released the Motionless and Motionless II mixtapes. He found his footing in 2019 with the energetic, confrontational songs “Eye for an Eye” and “Hidden Nights,” which garnered millions of streams. In 2019, he released the Black Lotus EP, but even with so many intricately realized songs out in the world, DUSK to DAWN feels like a step forward, full of boundary-pushing vocal experiments, heavier production, and shape-shifting transitions. The music finally matches the tumultuous emotions he’s captured in his lyrics all along.
DUSK to DAWN’s cinematic approach was influenced by hip-hop’s most accomplished auteurs, people like Kanye West and, of course, Cudi. Consequently, each of the record’s singles shows off a different side of his sound. The punk-infused “DENY,” with Tyla Yaweh, weaves together pained nostalgia and hard-won optimism. The braggadocious “QUARTZ,” featuring Toronto rapper Charmaine, is thrillingly brash. There is lighter fare, too, where Boslen ponders the world around him—the “dusk” songs on the record. By contrast, the “dawn” songs represent the idea of awakening, and learning to challenge the boxes that other people put him in.
“Being an Indigenous man, being a Black man, at the age I am now, people tend to turn their shoulders if you show vulnerability, or want to cry and be sensitive,” he laments. “I’m supposed to come off hard because I’m a rapper, but DUSK to DAWN came from the light and the dark.”
As a rugby player, Boslen would jot a biblical aphorism onto his cleats: “To whom much is given, much will be tested.” Never before has he understood or embraced that so clearly. He may not be able to pull every listener into Vancouver, but he’s using the city’s contrasts as a backdrop to challenge everyone to think beyond themselves—to dream big. “There’s thousands of kids here just like me who are so talented,” he says. “I’m trying to make a world that’s bigger than myself.”
Minister, Hip Hop Enthusiast
Youngdo Kang is a Minister and Hip-Hop enthusiast. Hip-hop was a significant part of Youngdo’s childhood, which is what gave him such a passion to see this group come to faith in Jesus. Youngdo went to seminary to become a pastor and has led ministries to people of all age groups. But in his ministering, he felt a disconnect with how our churches often don’t reach people outside of that environment. That’s why he founded City Lights which is a ministry built around hip-hop, community, and Jesus Christ.
Some resources for us to watch/listen on Youngdo: https://www.sim.org/-/city-lights-engaging-canadas-hip-hop-community-for-christ and https://faithstrongtoday.com/markgroleau/youngdo-kang
Student, CCIT and Women & Gender Studies
Kayja is a fifth-year student at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), studying a double major in Communications, Culture, Information, & Technology (CCIT) and Women & Gender Studies. As a young black woman, she enjoys learning about how intersectionality and technology go hand in hand.
She’s also the President of Caribbean Connections, which is a cultural student group at UTM that strives to provide students with interactive spaces and opportunities while sharing Caribbean Culture.Website
Randy is in his final year at University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), currently majoring in Criminology with a double minor is Sociology and French Studies. He serves as the Student and Community Programs Assistant for Hip Hop Education Programming at Hart House.Website
Randy’s Hip Hop Café Theme Track: Trauma by Meek Mill