Published in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record on Thursday, May 15 1997 to advance the May 17 Monster Jam Pop Explosion featuring Citizen Kane, Choclair, Saukrates, Kardinal Offishall, Dan-E-O, Wio-K, Concrete Mob and Down To Erf at Inner City, Kitchener

 

HIP HOP IN THE HOUSE

 

By Nick Krewen

 

 

Get ready for a hip-hop explosion.

JEFF DUKE, one third of the Scarborough rap trio CITIZEN KANE, predicts that the nation will soon be buggin' to the sweet sounds of old school rap and new talent once the word gets out.

"We're like a time bomb," says Duke, a.k.a. SWINGER SPADE. "Nobody's going to be able to hold us back."

The 26-year-old Duke, who co-founded Citizen Kane with boyhood pals ADRIAN (AJE) PERRY and ROB (BLOW) PARIS, isn't necessarily talking about his own band leading the breakthrough. Citing a recent gig at Toronto's Shok Club that he claims drew 10,000 hip-hop enthusiasts, Duke points to the diversity of talents perfecting the verbal nectar of rhythm-punctuated street poetry as the key that will eventually unlock the door to success.

"Groups in Toronto are beginning to get their props," explains Duke. "The U.S. rap scene has been fairly stagnant. The rappers talk about sex and violence, and it's getting stale. Canada has a fresh approach that features more consciousness, and focuses in on the mentality."

Naming such outfits as Vancouver's RASCALZ, Toronto's SIXTH SENSE and Juno-award winners SAUKRATES and CHOCLAIR as leaders of Canadian rap's brave new frontier, Duke is hoping to capitalize on an internationally lucrative path first cleared by Toronto rappers MAESTRO FRESH WES, SNOW and DREAM WARRIORS.

Duke is convinced that Rap Essentials Volume One, a compilation issued by Toronto hip-hop label Beat Factory and featuring Citizen Kane and seven of the eight acts appearing at Inner City on Saturday night, is a good start.

"The Rap Essentials Volume One  is highly regarded and highly respected everywhere," he says. "Even the music industry in the States is shocked at the amount of unique talent north of the border. There's so much happening in Toronto and outside Toronto, that it's just a matter of time."

Duke also credits the influence MuchMusic and some of its hip-hop-oriented programs for keeping the rap fires burning.

"MuchMusic, and especially their programs Rap City and Electric Circus, are letting people know what's out there," says Duke, whose outfit makes its first visit to Kitchener Saturday night.

"They're an important voice."

As for Citizen Kane's voice, the jazz-spiced contribution the trio makes on Rap Essentials Volume One  called "Structure, Foundation" suggests a philosophy that uses truth and experience as its chief weapons.

"There's a lot of corruption around," says Duke. "We bring you reality or truth. We pose the questions. You draw your own conclusions."

Even "Raising Kane" -- the group's upcoming single currently being recorded for distribution on its own Treehouse Records label -- has an autobiographical touch.

"It's about raising yourself above the turmoil and becoming more than your environment," Duke explains. "I grew up in a tough neighbourhood where there was a lot of drug trafficking and armed robberies. So you either became a drug trafficker or a stick-up man. This is to show people that those two options aren't the only way out."

As for a personal wish list, Duke hopes that Citizen Kane will play its part in changing the way media perceives hip-hop culture. He's especially hopeful that the media interest in some of the sexual and violent aspects of rap music will eventually wane.

"The media loves controversy," he says. "They focus in on the sex and violence, but seem to forget the positive things. It's just like in the NBA. STEVE SMITH of the Atlanta Hawks donates over half of his salary to his high school to help out the kids.

"We only hear about DENNIS RODMAN."

Since eight acts, ranging from toaster Kardinal Offishall to Toronto based rapper Choclair, are sharing the Inner City Stage, Citizen Kane figure they'll do a 20-minute set.

"It depends on the crowd," Duke admits. "But we've got enough material to drop joints all night."

 

1999 -- Deliverance -- Treehouse

 

COLLABORATIONS

1997 -- Various Artists, Beat Factory Rap Essentials One

 

THANKS: PHILIP BAST

-30-

©1997, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink

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