Volume 94, Issue 43

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2000


MC makes noise up North - Choclair still keeping it real

Mastermind goes Street Legal

Billy Elliot shows off fancy steps

Original man in black

Mastermind goes Street Legal

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

Nothing seems to stop Canada's number one hip-hop DJ, Mastermind, despite outside efforts to squash his trade.

When Toronto authorities cracked down last summer on Mastermind's bread and butter – mixed tapes, or compilations of popular tunes, combined with the cancelling of his Mastermind Street Jam program on Energy Radio, the Toronto DJ was left searching for his place in Canadian music.

"It was a big deal," he says. "Everything happened at the same time."

However, Mastermind's fans were still feeling his style, giving him hope for the future. "When my show got taken off [Energy Radio], it had been number one in its time slot. After that, the listeners fought back to get the show," he explains.

The ensuing uproar proved the radio exectives wrong, who first believed the underground hip-hop show did not fit with its commercial music format. "In the end, [the executives] needed a smack upside the head for what they did."

Not only did he get his show back on the network, but he also released his 50th mix-tape and is now hosting Canada's most listened-to Top 40 prime time show on Energy Radio.

Gazette File Photo

Last spring, Mastermind signed a recording contract with Virgin, which he hopes will allow him the chance to make his mix-tapes prominent again. "This album deal was a big accomplishment," he remarks.

Upon signing the deal, he put out his 49th compilation, The Setup, which featured a plethora of Canadian artists.

"When the mix-tape thing came down, all my supporters knew I was about to put out volume 50 and were asking me what I was going to do for it. I put out the setup, which was a prequel for what I wanted to do with this album."

Street Legal: Volume 50, features a wide variety of artists from Kardinal Offishall and Choclair to Mos Def, N.W.A and Ghostface Killah. By featuring many rappers, Mastermind hopes to establish a broader fan base.

"We wanted to make the album as street credible as possible," he explains. "Still, we needed some tracks that the casual listener may be familiar with. We hope some people may say, 'I'll get the album because Dr. Dre or Ghostface are on it,' then that will introduce them to the other lesser known names we have to offer."

Mastermind believes with increased recognition in Canada, hip-hop is prepared to jump to another level. But he says work still needs to be done.

"The country's adapting – it's in the best state it's ever been in," Mastermind says. "But, there's still that old boys network that's working against us, because they're afraid of what we're doing."

So how much longer will he continue to help hip-hop grow in Canada?

"I'm still young and feel I'm an integral part of the scene," Mastermind asserts. "I'll leave when I lose my 'ear for hip–hop'," he says.

"I'm going to let the people dictate when my time is up."

Mastermind spins tonight at The Wave.

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