Decipher helps build Manitoba hip-hop scene


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Earlier this year, Manitoba Music hosted a roundtable discussion on the state of the hip-hop scene in Manitoba. There were several takeaways from that event; the two most important were that local hip-hop artists are energized and they want some help. 

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/11/2017 (1837 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Earlier this year, Manitoba Music hosted a roundtable discussion on the state of the hip-hop scene in Manitoba. There were several takeaways from that event; the two most important were that local hip-hop artists are energized and they want some help. 

So, Manitoba Music digested that feedback and turned it into Decipher, a new professional-development series focused on hip hop in Manitoba.

“We wanted to do something that was specifically for the hip-hop community just based on some of the fresh activity we’ve seen in the community, in terms of new artists and folks coming up who are new on the scene and there seemed to be quite a bit of energy there,” says Sean McManus, executive director of Manitoba Music, a member-based, not-for-profit industry association.

Supplied Andrew Sannie of the Lytics

“In the course of putting that (roundtable discussion) together, we realized that we were sort of in a place where we were thinking more about what are the specifics of doing business in the hip-hop scene that make it different from the other scenes that we work with and maybe we need to do a bit of learning as well,” he continues.

“You know, we’re often in teaching mode and it was nice to be in listening mode and get a sense of where people felt the scene was at and learn a bit more about what folks felt like they needed.

“So we really based the programming we’re starting to run now through Decipher on the feedback from that session and on the conversations that have evolved since then.”

The first event of the Decipher series — a panel discussion on the relationship between hip hop and the larger music industry — takes place Thursday night at the Manitoba Music resource centre. Panelists include artist Tasha the Amazon out of Toronto, Daniel Bennett of Calgary’s Transit22 and local hip-hop artists Carmen Omeasoo (who performs under the name Hellnback) and Andrew Sannie of the Lytics. 

Sannie agrees the Winnipeg hip-hop scene is currently on an upswing; it’s a much different environment than the Lytics experienced when they were first finding their feet in the mid-’00s, a time Sannie describes as “a bit of a lull.”

“This is the best I’ve seen it since I got involved,” he says.

“I know there was a point where the hip-hop scene was really bubbling, but that was in a lot of ways, before my time.

“I remember watching it from afar, so to speak, watching groups like Mood Ruff or Frek Sho or John Smith or mcenroe, Nestor Wynrush, those guys, so that seemed like an extremely exciting time.

“There was tons of energy, everyone was working together… but then it kind of came to this point where a lot of those artists, some moved away, some stopped making music as regularly and went behind the scenes; it changed a bit.

“Now it seems like the energy has swung back the other way and you can definitely see it and feel it. All these young artists are working together and releasing all these mix tapes and albums together and playing shows all the time… it’s one of these things where you look around and just feel the energy,” he says. 

Supplied Tasha the Amazon

Winnipeg isn’t exactly known for its hip hop right now, but Sannie credits Decipher as a great first step in helping build a solid foundation beneath the growing industry. He is optimistic the city will find its place in the wider hip-hop community. 

“I think Manitoba Music, for a start, is taking a lead on that. They’re jumping right into it based on what they’re hearing from artists, so that’s super-exciting,” Sannie says.

“Realistically, Winnipeg will never be Toronto. That’s just not going to happen, but there is a lot we can do — building an industry or getting to a point where we can recognize the people who are interested in doing PR, doing management, doing mastering, doing videos specifically for hip hop, that’s one thing.

“The second thing is getting everyone together, getting everyone talking about it, sharing knowledge, possibly working together.

“Any time one artist in the genre makes some noise, it reverberates — and then you have a spotlight on your whole city.”  witter: @NireRabel


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Updated on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 9:51 AM CST: Corrects spelling of Carmen Omeasoo

Updated on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 9:56 AM CST: Corrects spelling of Frek Sho

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