Hamilton has always been known for its Rock n’ Roll. Take your pick of rocks.. hard, punk, metal, indie.. whatever your preference, Hamilton has always been one of the nation’s best places to make or hear the rock. But Hamilton hip-hop? The outside world might be surprised to find how deep the talent & accomplishments of our city’s scene runs.

Consider.. Hamilton is now home to the world’s first 3 time Rap Battle Champion (Arcane). Hamilton is home to Drake’s favourite shout-out (OB), presently crafting production for major label big names stateside. Hamilton is home to the first Canada’s Got Talent finalist, to identify as a ‘rapper’ (The Emsee). Hamilton hosted this year’s National DMC DJ Championship, and the winner (DJ Vekked) went on to win the world title. Our peoples have opened for Wu-Tang Clan royalty GZA and Ghostface Killah (Shing Shing Regime). And hip-hop is consistently filling Hamilton’s biggest rooms… thanks to artists like the Hamilton Hi-Cats & promoters like the Beat Binjaz.
There is much to celebrate for Hamilton Hip Hop. And the city’s longest running hip-hop radio programs would agree. 93.3 CFMU programs Live N Direct and In Tha Kut have joined forces to bring us the Hamilton Hip Hop Media Awards; celebrating all that’s good about Hamilton Hip Hop over the past year.

We caught up with Mitchell Heaton (The Hi-Cats) from Live N Direct and Mookie Wilson (Casualties of a Dice Game) of In Tha Kut, to chat about the HHHMA’s.

CFS: Can you give us a little history of your radio shows, for those that don’t know?
MOOKIE: In Tha Kut Radio has aired on CFMU for over fifteen years. We’ve gone through many hosting teams through that span, with DJ Rayz & 3rd Sun holding it down the longest. Infamous, Fundamental, & many other guests have contributed to the weekly broadcasts. John P & I are just carrying the torch, trying to run with it & expand the show’s audience. It’s always been dope. The station used to be in a cramped room in the old Student Centre, now Hamilton Hall I believe. We love being a landmark for good rap music in the city. That’s why we try and take no weeks off.

MITCHELL: Live N Direct was started in 1995, with the original hosts being Steel City legend Eklipz (Crown A Thornz) and another
 Hamilton O.G. DJ Realistic. They ran with the show for a while until 
handing it down to another duo of Hammertown representatives, Divine 
and DJ Tek. Divine and Tek also did a great job running the show for 
as many years as they did. In March of 2012 Divine handed the show down 
to RashDon who then asked myself and Dose to help host with him
. And we’ve been here every week for almost a year doing the best job we 
can to keep Live N Direct what it is, a supportive local Hamilton Hip
Media outlet.

emseeCFS: When did you decide to run a Hamilton Hip Hop Awards? Tell us how the idea was born.
MITCHELL: Divine and Tek actually started the awards, or something very similar, 
back in 2010 I think. In 2011
 Divine was doing a lot of the shows by himself and him and Tek never got 
the chance to do the awards for the 2nd time. So when we took over in early 2012 we really wanted to bring the awards back but felt it was too 
late to put it together for 2011. So we decided to get comfortable with 
hosting the program and put something together for a 2012 award show, but 
bigger and better. So that’s what we did, turned it into a buzzing event 
with 15 categories, dozens of nominees and a great after party scheduled.

MOOKIE: In Tha Kut and Live N Direct both play a lot of homegrown hip-hop but our taste & collections are slightly varied. With both radio shows contributing to the nominee list, we felt we got a wider representation of the scene here. The
ideas came together pretty quickly, properly weighing the nominees and re- listening to some of the possibilities took more time.

CFS: You’ve both been heavily involved in the Hamilton scene for years..
as artists, radio hosts, promoters, etc. 
 Tell us one of your earliest Hamilton Hip Hop memories?
MOOKIE: My earliest hip hop memories in Hamilton were probably going to the few all ages shows around back then. Kardinal, Choclair, Saukrates & Solitair played at the Convention Centre. It was probably average turnout looking back but at the time I was so impressed that so many people came out to see a rap show. Those guys were superstars to me then, and it was cool that they were from Canada & I could rep that too. Later on, it was definitely learning the ropes from DJ Rayz and 3rd Sun about throwing & hosting events, promoting and organizing. Rayz brought some great legends to the city and also threw some memorable battle events. Was a great time for live rap shows in Hamilton, early 2000s. Died down some but we’re all bringing it back. The scene today has more players in it and I think that helps. When I was coming up, Rayz, Eklipz, Realistic and a few other pioneers were really putting on.

MITCHELL: I remember going to one of my first local hip hop shows
 and not just as a fan but as my buddy’s hype man as well. And I was loving 
it. After we finished our set we got to stay at the back of the stage to
 watch the rest of the performers. The artist on after us name was “RashDon”. He got up there with a few guys performing with him and absolutely rocked it!
 I thought I had done
good until I seen his set! I had no idea who he was
 at the time cause I was young and new to the scene but, I definitely
 respected that and never forgot about it. Now I perform and host the show
with RashDon usually a few times a month. Working with him was definitely
a goal of mine; so much respect for him.

hacheyCFS: How has the scene changed since your first memories?
MITCHELL: It’s really hard to say, I think it has changed a lot in some ways and in some
ways it hasn’t. One thing I do know is Hamilton’s rap scene has
 really been growing and getting more and more supportive of each other
. So I know its headed in the right direction.

CFS: What do you see as ‘different’ or ‘unique’ about Hamilton Hip Hop, when compared to other cities? Either as a scene, or the actual music/artists.
MOOKIE: I think the scene reflects a lot more views & tastes nowadays, the spectrum of hip hop here is wider and that’s very cool. I think there’s a lot of work to be done still to connect the city. There are thousands of rap fans out there who don’t get to hear the music on the radio or get out to the live shows. We still have a lot of work to do expanding the audience for Hamilton hip hop. So many people don’t know how much dope music is being created in their hometown. We have more DJs, MCs, producers, just more people doing their thing than any city in the country. I’m convinced. Almost any member of the audience at our live
shows could hit the stage.

lee3CFS: Tell us why 2012 is a good year to start looking back and celebrating the achievements of Hamilton hip hop?
MOOKIE: Right now is the perfect time to have these awards because we can look back on a huge collection of Hamilton music for 2012. More albums, videos, & different projects dropped in the last 12 months than any year I can remember. The Hamilton Music awards struggled for years to legitimize their rap category because nobody was recording any albums. Now we have countless dope quality albums in the same year, from new cats like T.Y. to veterans Lee Reed & Es. The timing is right definitely. We hope it’s an annual thing, we’re working towards that.

MITCHELL: And we have 
already begun planning for the show next year. We are going to do it
 extra proper. It will be three times as big as this years, I guarantee it.

CFS: What or who should we watch for in 2013? Any predictions.. or artists you see breaking out onto the larger Canadian or world stage?
MOOKIE: I think T.Y. & JTrue are gonna have a video on MuchMusic if they keep at it, great chemistry there. 1988 might have to cook them up something or even JTrue on the beat. Shing Shing Regime are consistent, steady progression. If they drop projects in 2013, I expect some big noise. I think Robbie J is gonna have a video break 100,000 views and I could see him becoming a real popular choice to direct some big names across genres in Canada. Maybe some commercial stuff too, he is talented enough to do what he wants to. OB O’Brien as well can write his own ticket. He has a big support base that includes Drake of all people, he really has the whole city behind him. I know he’s careful with the moves he makes, so whenever that EP or album is ready, it will be on a national level no doubt. I can see a lot of Hamilton artists taking their live shows on the road in 2013. Lee Reed, ViSioN, Shing Shing, Eklipz, Hachey the MouthPEACE are a few I can think of that have really amazing live shows. National tours are
the next step, because the talent is here for sure. Arcane is another Hamilton MC who will continue to progress in 2013. He recently became the KOTD Champ for the second time, he will likely get to compete against more of the world’s best this

MITCHELL: There is an endless amount of talent here
 and a lot of drive. If I had to predict something I would have to say
 OB O’Brien has a great shot at blowing up even more than he already did in
 2012. Also the Emsee had a ton of success
at last year’s Canada’s Got Talent 
competition. And then there’s some good underdog artists that could breakout at any time including Lee Reed, Canadian Winter, Indi Feenz, Price, Arcane
, maybe even The HI-Cats, ha ha!

CFS: Tell us a bit about the Awards & After Party?
MITCHELL: The Awards will be broadcast live to air at the Underground (77 King William) from 9:00pm-10:30pm. Performances from Award Winners & Nominees for the after party will start after that.
 There will be a photographer at the venue taking before after and party shots 
all night. There will be cheap drinks and it’s only $5 cover or advance tickets, available at Dr. Disc.

MOOKIE: We’ve got some great performances lined up from the nominees, great opportunities to discuss the choices & build towards next year’s show.

CFS: Thanks guys, looking forward to Saturday!

  – – – –

Saturday, February 02, 2013
The Underground
77 King William Street, Hamilton
Awards Show, Live to Air: 9:00pm-10:30pm
After Party: 10:30pm-2:00am
$5 Tickets / $5 Door
Tickets available at Dr. Disc

For the most up to date list of nominees, visit the Facebook Event Page