The history of rap music in Canada can be traced back to the late 1970s, but it wasn’t until the early nineties that the genre became a formally recognized award category at The JUNO Awards. Inspired by the mainstream success of up-and-coming Canadian hip hop artists and the growth of Black music in Canada, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences introduced the Rap Recording of the Year award in 1991.
Since its inception 30 years ago, the award has been presented to many of Canada’s most influential artists from hip hop pioneer Maestro Fresh-Wes to global superstar, Drake. As rap continues to flourish as the most-streamed music genre, The JUNOS paid homage to the 30th anniversary of the award and the influence the genre has had on the Canadian rap scene as a whole.
In 2001, The JUNO Awards celebrated 10 years of the rap category with an all-hits Black music tribute presented by Gerald Eaton of the Philosopher Kings and R&B singer, Tamia. “From the streets to the clubs to the radio stations… our community is being heard,” Eaton told audiences. “Now in its second generation, we pay tribute to the pioneers and the poets.”
The unforgettable tribute was a medley of greatest hits from hip hop, rap, and R&B stars Michie Mee, Kid Kut of Baby Blue Soundcrew, Snow, the Dream Warriors, Jully Black, Jacksoul, Deborah Cox, Ghetto Concept, Choclair, Rascalz, Kardinal Offishall, Sean Paul, and the award’s inaugural winner, Maestro Fresh-Wes.
Now, 20 years later, a handful of these legendary artists returned to the JUNOS stage for a special performance to honour 30 years of the Rap award category at the 50th Annual JUNO Awards.
The performance featured four-time JUNO Award winner Kardinal Offishall, two-time JUNO Award winner, multiple JUNO Award nominee and R&B/Soul artist Jully Black, two-time JUNO Award winner Maestro Fresh-Wes, and hip hop legend Michie Mee. Joining them was nine-time JUNO Award nominee NAV and 2019 Polaris Music Prize winner Haviah Mighty.
The incredible medley highlighted the rich talents of Canada’s rap, hip hop, soul and R&B artists and the intergenerational growth of Black music in our country. The JUNO Awards look forward to continuing to celebrate and honour rap music with the Rap Recording of the Year award and the newly introduced Rap Single of the Year award category.
Watch the full performance below or on YouTube.
Featured image: Jully Black performs for the 30th Anniversary Tribute to Rap at the JUNOS featuring Michie Mee, Maestro Fresh Wes, Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black (Pictured), NAV and Haviah Mighty. Photo by: CARAS/iPhoto