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hip hop in hfx (long!)



hey folks, if anyone wants to know more about the sebutones,
drop me an email with questions for stinkin' rich... he's
going to be on my radio show tomorrow (6pm, 97.5fm for you
haligonians), premiering the new cassette.

here's tara wittchen's *excellent* article from the kings'
online news service...  the one thing i'm left wondering --
is "you're zero" the stuff that rich recorded with SY guy
steve shelley?  oh well, i guess i can ask him tomorrow.

james

                                FEATURE STORY
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                         THE CLOSING OF THE BASSMENT

For seven years, Haligonians seeking hip hop on the airwaves would tune into
  The Bassment on CKDU. Last month, the proverbial turntables spun for the
          last time, as host DJ Critical stepped down from the mic.

                            By Tara Lee Wittchen

 

The timing is critical as Halifax's most infamous DJ steps out of
the bassment. After seven years of hosting a hip hop show on CKDU,
Richard Terfry decided to call it quits. The Bassment's final broadcast
aired last month.

Terfry, or DJ Critical to his listeners, stopped doing the show at a time
when it looked like he might be moving to New York. He says he intended to
move out of Halifax in order to further his career as a hip hop artist and
radio personality.

"It's hard to do that here, just in a geographic sense," he says.

He's not from the city and says when he was first exposed to hip hop, he
found the concept mind-blowing. Hearing hip hop on the radio was pretty
exciting at first, he says, because most of the music he was hearing was
underground material. He says he remembers climbing up in a tree to pick up
CKDU, Halifax's campus/community radio station, in order to hear more.

By the time he moved to Halifax to start university, the prevailing trends
in hip hop were not ones that suited his fancy. The hip hop shows on CKDU at
that time reflected those trends, he says.

"So I said, damn it, I'll do it myself," he says.

DJ Critical appeared on the scene and soon after began making waves in the
hip hop community of Halifax.

When Terfry took over the turntables at CKDU, he changed the style of hip
hop the show would play. The music he chose was much more hardcore than the
crossover R & B hip hop that was popular in Halifax. He says he faced a lot
of heat for his stylistic decision, but stuck with it.

"I started to cultivate my own little following," he says.

During the first few years of The Bassment, Terfry says he hated between 50
to 70 per cent of the music he was playing. His definition of really good
hip hop is the tracks that are hard to find, he explains, not the corporate
hits.

"As I became a cog in the machine, I learned where my place in all this was
and got disgusted," he says. Record companies would send him free stuff and
hassle him to get the music charting. "I wasn't going to be their pawn."

In the last year of the show, Terfry switched the format once again. This
time, the music he played had to be one hundred per cent independently
produced. It meant spending a lot more time, energy and money on producing
the show. He made phone calls and sought out the true underground releases.

Those underground tracks would get mixed together on a four track before the
show went to air, a process Terfry says took all week. After the format
change, people who Terfry says had the best interests of hip hop music and
culture at heart would phone in encouragement. Yet the number of listeners
still went down, he says.

"I'm not really into stupid music for stupid people," he says. "Commercial
hip hop is crap."


                          The CBC Ain't Colorblind
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Although Richard Terfry isn't doing a show at CKDU anymore, he was trying to
get work from the CBC. He says it was like running up against a brick wall.

"They know there's an audience for it," he says. "They're just too afraid to
do anything about it. They know it's not right."

He says institutions like the CBC and National Film Board of Canada don't
want his help because of the color of his skin. Terfry is white.

"It's political correctness taken too far," he says.

The people working at those places assume it's strictly a black medium and
therefore a white person shouldn't be a voice for the hip hop community, he
says. He notes the most popular hip hop show in the world is done by a white
guy out of New York.

"Race stopped being an issue years ago for people in the hip hop community,"
he says. It's the people who don't know hip hop culture who make the
assumptions about the music and the color of people's skin.


                  Comments on the Hip Hop Scene in Halifax

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

"The hip hop scene in Halifax is small and poor," says Richard Terfry, who
has also been known under the aliases of DJ Critical, Stinkin' Rich, Half
Slam, and Buck 65. "The way I see it, it's always going to be that way.
That's why I'm getting out."

"It's almost really cool, but not quite," he elaborates. "If a few people
would just smarten up and stop frontin', it would get better. There's
potential. If it's analyzed critically, the music is pretty good."

He says there are always going to be small shows and kids putting out
independent cassettes.

There are people in Halifax with talent and a good head on their shoulders,
he says, but he can't imagine the scene ever growing out of this small
stage.

Witchdoc JoRun, who runs JoRun Records and has released the Haltown
compilation tapes, says the scene might seem a little slow right now.

"It's because everybody is in the studio right now," he says. The summer and
spring time are for showing off the new material, whereas winter means
staying inside and recording.


                         Local Hip Hop New Releases
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

   * The Bassments of Badmen, a compilation featuring all East Coast hip hop
     acts, was recently released on Fun Trip records, a Toronto-based label.
   * The Sebutones, a side project featuring Stinkin' Rich and SixToo, was
     released independently this week. It is currently available as a
     limited edition cassette, but will be out on CD and vinyl within a
     month.
   * The latest full length album from Stinkin' Rich, You're Zero, is about
     to come out. It will also be available as a cassette only at first,
     then as a vinyl release.
   * Haltown Junior, the studio version of Haltown Live, is out on JoRun
     Records. Haltown Live featured some of the original Haltown Meltdown
     crews recorded live this year. Of note: the Live version documents some
     of the best freestyle lyricists in the region. A real MC battle,
     between Skillz and the trio Hip Club Groove, took place at the venue.
   * Do You Like My Technique, a collection of lost recordings made by
     Stinkin' Rich over the last seven years, will be available on cassette
     at the end of this month.
   * Witchdoc JoRun is currently involved with the Ubiquity Project. JoRun
     is producing the music, the album and the artwork. Of note: the artwork
     will incorporate what JoRun calls a hip hoppers guide to used record
     stores in Canada. He'll be using photos he took of his favorite record
     stores across the country and receipts of his purchases, but no
     addresses or city names will be given.


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     _James Covey  <jrcovey\!/cochran.com>_    sloan net is a discussion of the
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