Hip Hop has been used as a channel for inner exploration, personal empowerment, self-reflection, and counter storytelling. Like most art forms it provides a way of self- expression and functions as a therapeutic way to process thoughts, ideas, knowledge and emotions. October is Mental Health Awareness Month in Canada and the world has seen a lot of changes in the last few months that has made issues like community trauma, health and wellbeing even harder to ignore.
The Hart House Hip Hop Education program presents Spark your Well-being ; A deep dive on Mental Health and Hip Hop. In this curated conversation we bring together Hip Hop artists and practioners who will engage in an open conversation around the challenges and triumphs of their individual mental health and wellness journeys.
By sharing personal stories, advice and lessons learned, their voices will highlight how each of them have used Hip Hop to be a spark towards actualizing a wellness state of mind.
How has Hip Hop Sparked your wellness? How has your relationship to Hip Hop healed you? How has mental health been looked at or considered in the hip hop community? How is Hip Hop as an art practice an act of self-care? How is Hip Hop, as an art practice positioned as an act of activism?
This conversation will explore these questions with a talented and diverse group of Hip Hop artists from the 6ix. We invite students and community to join us online for this deep and intentional conversation around mental health and wellbeing moderated by Mike Prosserman, author, B Boy and community leader.
Get a free book
15 students who register and attend the event will be given a free copy of Building Unity: Leading a Non-Profit From Spark to Succession written by Author Michael ‘Piecez’ Prosserman, best-selling author, B-Boy, Founder of UNITY Charity and University Instructor.
Michael ‘Piecez’ Prosserman
Author, B-Boy and University Instructor
Michael ‘Piecez’ Prosserman is a bestselling author, B-Boy (“breakdancer”), university instructor, and certified coach who specializes in scaling start-ups, team culture, fundraising, and succession. In Michael’s new book Building Unity: Leading a Non-Profit From Spark to Succession, he shares practical tools and stories to launching, leading and leaving a sustainable organization.
He scaled a grassroots organization from the ground up as the Founder of Unity Charity, an organization using Hip-Hop to improve youth mental health. Over 15 years Michael helped grow Unity from a volunteer group to employing 80 staff, raising $7 million, and having an impact on 250,000 youth.
Hip Hop Artist
Phoenix Pagliacci is an artist and activist. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Phoenix began her artistic journey at the age of 6. Learning the piano and developing her singing/songwriting, Phoenix learned of her love for music from her family.
As a teenager, Phoenix attended Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts. There, she excelled as a performer and furthered her craft as an artist. Phoenix participated in the school’s annual variety shows and was recognized as a unique talent by her peers and staff.
While attending Ryerson University, Phoenix joined the Urban Hip Hop Union (UHHU). As a member, she performed with them at dance competitions and spoke on panels. It was there that she also discovered her passion for activism and literature.
In 2011, Phoenix released her first album, Books, Bucks & Beats Vol. 1: Holla at a Schola. Since then, her writing abilities have only improved. Phoenix released a number of EPs before releasing her full-length follow up album entitled Books, Bucks & Beats Vol 2: Rise of Baby Buddah in 2012. In 2013, Phoenix participated in the Honey Jam Canada showcase and was awarded a $5000 Yamaha Prize Pack. Phoenix used the opportunity to build her home studio, which she made available to other artists who could not afford to record in a professional studio.
In 2016, Phoenix participated in an International Women’s Day Cypher with other female artists. The four would go on to form Canadian Hip-Hop group The Sorority. The group would go on to open for heavy-hitters like Snoop Dogg, Miguel, The Internet, Joey Bada$$ and Jidenna. The group embarked on a Canadian Tour and released their sole album Pledge in 2018 before disbanding in 2019.
In 2017, Phoenix joined Producer/Songwriter Truss to form R&B duo TRP.P. They released their self-titled album that year and opened for Kehlani the following year at Toronto Pride. The duo would go on to release their sophomore album in 2019, which would catch the eye of Paquin Artists Agency, adding them to the roster of artists such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, K’NAAN and The Strumbellas.
In 2017, Phoenix founded Pagliacci Studios, an initiative for enlightening and entertaining youth through music and outreach. In addition, Phoenix also founded the not-for-profit Blissues, a cyclical outreach initiative dedicated to finding the silver line between bliss and issues.
Phoenix has performed across North America. She has also written and performed with Canadian artists such as Eternia, Tara Chase, Michie Mee, Jully Black, Shad and Ghettosocks. Phoenix has also worked with international artists such as Rapsody, Killah Priest (Wu -Tang Clan), Tajai (Souls of Mischief) and Jean Grae. She continues to create and perform music with her band, TRP.P
Hip Hop Artist
Two-time Juno-nominated and widely considered one of Canada’s foremost Hip Hop lyricists, Eternia continues to knock down barriers and trail-blaze across the globe for Canadian Hip-Hop music.
Eternia has toured extensively in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia, & Europe; those that are lucky enough to catch her on stage credit her as one of the best live performers they have witnessed. She has been billed with superstars such as Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Kanye West, Mos Def & Talib Kweli, Wu-Tang Clan, Missy, Snoop Dogg, MC Lyte, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Black Thought, Shad, Jully Black & many more.
In 2010, Eternia released her 5th full-length recording on Fat Beats Records with “DJ Premier affiliated Canadian super-producer MoSS” (NOW Magazine). The Juno-nominated “AT LAST” (her second Juno nod, the first for “It’s Called Life” in 2006) was met with critical acclaim, featured guest appearances by some of Hip Hop’s elite: Ras Kass, Rah Digga, Lady of Rage, Jean Grae, Joell Ortiz, Maestro Fresh Wes & more, was long-listed for a Polaris Prize and was named one of the Top 25 Albums of 2010 by the legendary DJ Premier of Gang Starr.
Since “AT LAST” Eternia has solidified her standing with a slew of buzz-worthy collaborations, music videos, and singles: “Love Means” on Shad’s Flying Colours (2013), “Final Offering” - a highly publicized Kendrick Lamar tribute (2014), “Each Other” on industry favourite Apollo Brown’s Grandeur (2015), “Day & Night” (2015), “Keep U” produced by Apathy (2016), “For This Life” (2016), “League Of Legends” with Canadian rap legends Maestro Fresh Wes, Kish, Dan-e-o, Moka Only & Thrust (2017), “Giants” with The Sorority’s Phoenix Pagliacci & DJ Mel Boogie (2018), and most recently “Another Year” on Shad’s latest release A Short Story About a War (2018).
Eternia exercises her passion for the arts by mentoring youth through the Ada Slaight Youth Arts Mentorship Program and the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, applying her seasoned expertise as an Ontario Arts Council and FACTOR jury member, lending her voice to a variety of issues including mental health, gender equality and Canadian Hip Hop History in public speaking engagements, producing a podcast “The Messengers” that offers a glimpse into the artistic process with special guests for the youth-based Love Is Moving publication, and shines on camera in her role as co-host of the nationwide television show “Love Is Moving” and guest television host for “Context With Lorna Deuck.”
From The Source Magazine to Hot 97, CBC to NPR, Toronto to Berlin, NXNE to SXSW, the Juno Awards to Paid Dues, there is no doubt Eternia has arrived … AT LAST.
Sheldon Pitt a.k.a. Solitair
Hip Hop Artist and Producer
Solitair is a multi-Juno Award nominated hip hop artist/producer from Toronto, with two decades of producing and songwriting experience for iconic artists such as Jully Black, Melanie Fiona, and Glenn Lewis. He has also toured the world with Canadian Hip Hop icons Choclair and Kardinal Offishall.
He brings his music industry experience into artist development and management, and also owns and operates 4Sound Media Group(Opens a new window) and 4Sound Music School(Opens a new window) since 2014.
In addition to his accomplishments in music, since November 2016 Solitair has been expanding his portfolio as the creator and host of the talk radio show Hashtag on VIBE 105 FM. The show was created to be a platform to share honest opinions about music, culture, and politics. Every Saturday from 10 am to noon, he hosts the show along with co-hosts DJ Reddy Fox and No Better Nina.
Solitair has also devoted much of his time to participating in mentorship programs and conducting workshops for marginalized youth in various communities and schools across the city.
In 2016, he became the Program Manager for FYou: The Forgiveness Project Jail Program at Toronto South Detention Centre, under the leadership of founder and Executive Director, Tara Muldoon, Drawing from both of their extensive experience in the music industry, together they curate discussions with inmates on topics such as anger management, conflict resolution, restorative justice, and self image. By using music and pop culture references that highlight those topics, such as artist J Cole and Charlamagne Tha God, they are able to lead the conversation in a way that the young men in custody can relate to.
Hip Hop Artist, Dancer, Teacher and Innovator
Joseph Hersco, more commonly known as J-Rebel within the Hip-Hop Community has been B-Boying (breakdancing) since the age of fourteen. He is a member of the Top Canadian breakdancing crew known as the Supernaturalz . His complex approach to B-Boying and natural flow has set him apart from many other dancers. His footwork is a true testament to the legacy of the Supernaturalz Crew, whose members have been known for having unique styles. His skills have opened doors to travel the globe and compete in world-class B-Boy Competitions.
Some of his many accomplishes include, R-16 2007 and 2010 (Korea), "Warsaw Challenge" 2007 (Poland) Battle of the Year 2004 (Germany), UK Championships (England) 2004 and 2005, Semi Finalist in City vs. City 2006 (1 on 1 battle in Chicago), Out for Fame Finals 2002 (New York) and currently holds the Guinness world record for world's longest B-boy cipher. Along with being a dancer, teacher and innovator.
He's currently working with Right To Play Canada, and runs a Hip-Hop leadership, and mentorship program for urban first nations, Inuit and metis youth within the Toronto District School Board as a community mentor. His program is called "Concrete Warriors" witch engages youth in critical thinking, using Hip-Hop as a culturally relevant pedagogy by addressing complex social issues through the art and culture of Hip-Hop.
J-Rebel has worked in partnership with many individuals and organizations across Canada to promote the preservation of Hip-Hop culture and making positive change within community and institutional spaces. In 2011 he went to Brazil as part of a delegation from Toronto in an international cultural exchange between arts educators under the 'Schools without Borders' emerge initiative.
J-Rebel grew up in the Jane-Finch and Lawrence Heights areas in Toronto, two of the city's northwest neighborhoods known for their high levels of violence, drugs and poverty due to the socio-economic and political realities that have created many systemic barriers for him to overcome in his life. Like many disfranchised youth he found a strong affinity for Hip-Hop culture. Now dedicated to being an active mentor and positive role model for other marginalized and oppressed youth. He hopes of making a difference in the future by creating ripples of positive change in his communities and society as a whole.
Transformational Speaker, Spoken Word Practitioner and Arts Educator
Randell Adjei is an entrepreneur, speaker and spoken word practitioner who uses his gifts to Empower the message of Alchemy. He was recently appointed Ontario’s first Poet Laureate.
Randell is the founder of one of Toronto's largest youth led initiatives; Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (R.I.S.E Edutainment). In 2018, R.I.S.E received the Toronto Arts Foundation’s, Mayor’s Youth Arts Award.
Randell is the author of I am Not my struggles, a powerful Anthology released in 2018. Randell was also named CBC’s Metro Morning’s Torontonian of the Year in 2015 and NOW Magazine's Local Hero in May 2017. In 2020, Randell opened up for President Barack Obama at the Economic Club of Canada.Website