Winnipeg rapper picked for Master Class

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For the third time in the award’s four-year history, a Winnipeg musician has been chosen as one of three annual recipients of the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/09/2018 (1530 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For the third time in the award’s four-year history, a Winnipeg musician has been chosen as one of three annual recipients of the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class.

Hip-hop artist Mike Skwark, who performs under the name Smrtdeath, will receive industry mentorship and performance opportunities valued at more than $10,000, including an all-inclusive trip to Toronto for “an intensive mentorship week, hosted by Canada’s Music Incubator at Coalition Music with industry leaders and Canadian artists,” as well as a trip to the Juno Awards in London, Ont., next year to perform at a showcase and attend the gala.

Skwark has already developed a solid following, with his song Everything racking up well over a million plays on Spotify. His sound is rooted in a more melodic form of hip-hop, but despite the current success of artists with a similar vibe, such as Post Malone, Skwark said he wasn’t expecting the jurors to respond to his music.

Supplied Hip-hop artist Mike Skwark, also known as Smrtdeath, will receive industry mentorship and performance opportunities valued at $10,000.

“I was kinda surprised when I found out I was chosen, I wasn’t sure if they would be into me because I feel like my stuff is pretty different than what they normally go for. I’m stoked I got picked though,” said the 26-year-old in an email to the Free Press.

Skwark has been making music as Smrtdeath for around two years and came across the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class application while “lurking” through the official Twitter page for the Juno Awards.

Now that he’s won the top prize, Skwark is most looking forward to building up his network of contacts in the industry and gaining some insider knowledge.

“Learning business is definitely one aspect of the master class, but I think it’ll be cool to get some guidance from the mentors in terms of navigating the Canadian music scene and meet some cool Canadian artists I’ve looked up to previously, as well as some more behind-the-scenes folks,” he says.

The winners were chosen by a “super jury” of music-industry leaders and the program is designed to help emerging artists develop their careers, build their own sustainable business and become “Juno ready.”

Toronto rapper Haviah Mighty and Halifax band Port Cities round out the group of three winners. This year, they will also be joined by the 2018 winner of the CBC Music Searchlight competition, Halifax-based R&B artist Aquakultre.

Previously, Winnipeggers Slow Leaves and the Lytics were awarded the master class experience in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @NireRabel

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Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
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Erin Lebar spends her time thinking of, and implementing, ways to improve the interaction and connection between the Free Press newsroom and its readership.

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