ARTICLE: A Hip-Hop Oral History of The Concert Hall (Now Magazine)

Ty Harper | Community,Editorial,Interviews,Music | Monday, June 12th, 2017

Now Ron Nelson

Lots of great stuff in this piece, but I think it’s important to think about how we respond to media coverage like this. I know the immediate feeling we have when we see one-off articles like this is ecstatic elation. But that’s only because we’ve been STARVING for our history. A history Toronto and Canadian media continue to erase through their privilege, their ignorance and arrogance.

Think about it: if someone had the power to deprive you of water, food and the necessities of life you rightfully deserve, what would be the appropriate way to respond to them when they randomly decide to feed you some scraps?

“Toronto’s Apollo,” “a mini-Caribana,” “the matriarch” of Toronto’s hip-hop scene.

Storied live music venue the Concert Hall is most often associated with 60s rock acts like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. In the 70s, 80s and 90s it was the place to see punk, new wave, funk, dancehall, reggae and grunge.

Much less talked about in mainstream media is the pivotal role the 100-year-old venue at 888 Yonge played in laying the foundation for Toronto’s currently thriving hip-hop scene.

In the 80s and early 90s, hip-hop parties were dispersed around suburban neighbourhoods in community halls, schools, basements and rental places. The crowds and musicians were young, primarily Black first- and second-generation Canadians. But as the scene grew, the venue housed in the centrally located Masonic Temple at Yonge and Davenport became hip-hop’s mecca.

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