By Paul Wells - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 0 Comments
When Maclean’s published a list of the best albums of the ’00s at the end of 2009, the most common complaint from readers was that we had left Rush out. Since the only two complete studio albums of original music the Toronto band produced in the decade in question were Vapor Trails and Snakes & Arrows, arguably not the finest products of the band’s oeuvre, I had to admire the fans’ loyalty, at least. But then loyalty is one quality Rush’s fans have always delivered, usually in excess. It was the fans’ ardour that persuaded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to include Rush among its 2013 inductees.
There’s no accounting for taste in these matters, but I think the hall’s honour roll this year is pretty strong. If disco mattered at all, Donna Summer was its best ambassador. Randy Newman was one of the finest piano men and singer-songwriters of the ’70s. The band Heart, I admit, seems an odd fit, but Quincy Jones has earned a place among the hall’s non-performers with five decades as a leading record producer.
Tonight I’m going to write about Rush and Public Enemy, intending no disrespect to the other inductees. I’m tickled that the two bands were named in the same year, because it’s hard to imagine two less similar products of North American popular culture. If these two bands fit together in any hall, it must be a big hall. Continue…
By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
Public Enemy is on a world tour of the band’s iconic album Fear of a Black Planet
Public Enemy’s Anti-Nigger Machine begins less as a song than a sledgehammer, a collection of seemingly random noises punctuated by a snippet of a soul singer wailing what sounds like “bing” over and over, faster and faster, until the whole thing collapses. Chuck D comes in after a brief interlude, his voice booming and sustained: When I’m talkin’ rhyme time / To blow your mind time some say / It’s nothing worse than a verse / To hear some nigger curse.
Within days of its release in 1990, Fear of a Black Planet, the album on which Anti-Nigger Machine appeared, became the accompaniment to just about everything I did.
By Brendan Murphy - Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 12:00 AM - 0 Comments
Are artists like Public Enemy unfairly discriminated against by Canadian officials?
Over the last two decades, Public Enemy has established itself as one of rap’s most influential and socially conscious acts. Even the Library of Congress has recognized its achievements. However, the group’s front man, Chuck D, says there’s one set of people whose respect he’s still waiting on: the officers at the Canadian border. “We’ve had heavy security problems at the border since the 1990s,” he says. “It’s the roughest border on the planet. To me it resembles the Berlin Wall.” Given that PE was the first hip-hop act to do extended world tours, he’s not just analogizing. “I experienced having to be searched by cops and dogs coming through western Germany to go back to Berlin, and I’m here to tell you that that seemed more humane.”
Those who regularly attend Canadian shows headlined by American rappers know that there’s a good chance their favourite artists may not be there when the lights go up. If they are, chances are they’re not happy. During this summer’s Pemberton music festival, Jay-Z, one of the most recognizable figures in music today, complained about his experience on the way there.
American rappers are not the only ones who’ve noticed. Belly is a Palestinian-born, Ottawa-based rapper. A Juno-winning artist who plays on both sides of the border, he agrees with Chuck D. “I have an easier time getting into the States than getting back into my own country. [Going into the U.S.] I haven’t been pulled to the side in four or five years. In Canada, it’s one out of two times that I’ll have to spend an hour or two in Customs.”
Toronto’s REMG is Canada’s largest “urban” music concert promoter. Since founding the company in 1993, Jonathan Ramos has been bringing some of the biggest names in rap and R & B to Canada. He explains the process. “There’s two parts to it—work permits and immigration.” According to Ramos, if the person is an internationally recognized musician, a work permit is often not necessary. “The problems come up at immigration,” he says.
Since 2003, the border has been overseen by the Canadian Border Services Agency, an amalgamation of Canada Customs and personnel from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. David Garson, a senior partner of the Toronto law firm Guberman, Garson, Bush, who has been practising immigration law for over 15 years, explains that while Immigration and the CBSA do share duties, responsibilities and information, the border itself is the CBSA’s.