Jones Amare Au-Duke & Jeff ’Spade’ Duke, ”The First 50, 2023.” Image courtesy of the artists.


Hip Hop’s story in Toronto (the epicenter of the culture in Canada) begins as early as the mid-to-late 1970s. In neighbourhoods such as Jane/Finch, Flemingdon Park (Flemo), Regent Park and 400 (Scarborough), Toronto youth engaged with the elements (graffiti writing, breaking, deejaying, and emceeing) and curated expressions of the culture that uniquely represented the locales and multi-ethnic and multi-racial demographics of the city. College radio broadcasters who were eager to promote local and international Hip Hop, created community engaged platforms that became hubs for the scene’s growing pool of artists. Promoters hosted events that pit local talent against Hip Hop stars from the American market in ways that levelled the playing ground and honoured Toronto’s unique Hip Hop identity. Television broadcasters – acknowledging the growing interest in Hip Hop’s social and political value – created programming that elevated the scene to national and international visibility.

In the midst of Hip Hop’s momentous fiftieth anniversary, we have curated a list of 50 of the most influential figures of the Toronto Hip Hop scene (between the years 1980-2000) – with an added list of honourable mentions. While there are certainly more than 50 architects who have built Toronto’s scene and contributed to the culture’s impact across the globe, we believe that the time is ripe to recall the names (both of those who are commonly referenced, as well as those less familiar to the public) of the architects who cultivated the scene and shifted the needle and pulse of Hip Hop expression in Toronto, during its first three decades. Unlike many Hip Hop 50 lists, ours places practitioners alongside those who have worked in industries adjacent to Hip Hop artistry. We hope that “The First 50: Toronto’s Hip Hop Architects” generates conversation, a collective remembering and exchange about Toronto’s Hip Hop history, and inspires our city to see the value in preserving its individual and collective Hip Hop stories.

The First 50 Didactic

The exhibit didactic provides an explanation about the artists who where commissioned to develop The First 50 poster, and an overview is outlined in the about section above it. It also provides biographies of the two artists Jones Amore Au-Duke and Jeff 'Spade' Duke.

Exhibition Poster

The First 50. Toronto’s Hip-Hop Artists. Poster courtesy of Jones Amare Au-Duke & Jeff ’Spade’ Duke.

Hip-Hop Artists

Poster Artists

Event Metadata

Event Ended

  • Date: Fri, Sep 22, 2023
  • Time & Duration: (all day) (164 days)
  • Cost:
    • All


  • Venue:
    Hart House
    7 Hart House Cir,
    Toronto, ON M5S 3H3
    View Map
  • Room: Warden's Office Hallway
  • Event Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

What's On

  1. Jun 15  – Jul 12
  2. Jun 15  – Jun 30
  3. Jun 15 – Jul 27
  4. Jun 17 – Jul 22
  5. Jun 18 – Jul 27
  6. Jun 19 – Jul 27
  7. Jun 19 – Aug 7
  8. Wed, Jun 19