Opening the hip-hop market

By James Keller

Hip-hop music and culture in Canada is finally gaining exposure. And according to Canadian artist Jelleestone, it’s about time.

"People see the numbers," says the Toronto native, whose album Jelleestone 13 has already enjoyed success on both sides of the border. "I think the labels are like, ‘shit, we’re letting them go, we gotta get on it,’ and they should. We’ve got a very lucrative market and very talented musicians to support that."

One of the drawing powers of this genre of music, says Jelleestone, is its ability to include many different styles at once.

"Hip hop is the common denominator, because you can use any other form of music or sound to make it," he says. "It’s the only music you can compact so much information into with only three minutes, and there’s no other music that allows that type of exchange of information in that amount of time."

Jelleestone definitely created some credibility for himself in this area over the course of his career. Since grade school, he created hip-hop music, although he admits he didn’t become serious about it until 1990. And despite offers tabled to him in the past, he didn’t find a situation he liked until now.

"This deal encompasses myself as an artist as well as a business man," says Jelleestone about signing with Warner Brothers music. "It game me a chance to join my company, Rex Entertainment Incorporated, with a major North American label. Before I wasn’t smart enough, I hadn’t done my homework."

Twelve years later, the Canadian market is opening up to this style of music. With heavy radio play and regular rotation on Muchmusic, it seems it’s finally ready for Jelleestone as well.

"It’s Eminem, it’s Dre, it’s Snoop. They just started moving units like crazy," explains Jelleestone. "[Labels] say, ‘oh, this is selling more than what was selling last week,’ and that’s what really counts. It’s all about market shares."

Although the idea that the record industry is after money isn’t new to Jelleestone. And even though he doesn’t blame them, he says that this is a major conflict in the world which we live.

"It’s an oxymoron, the world we live in," says Jelleestone, drawing parallels from "Money (part 1)," his new single. "Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but you need it for everything. They got you."

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