(Worst Come to Worst Toronto Comes First)
The first Canadian DJ Awards - Stylus DJ Awards, to be exact - took place May 29th, 2006 in Toronto. Supported by Toronto's Sony Ericsson and a whole slew of heavy-duty sponsors, the Stylus Group (a Canadian organization formed to recognize Canadian urban DJs) put on the show with intentions of honoring urban music's top DJs, MCs, musicians and record labels in 24 categories.
Yay Canada! More like Yay Toronto.
I'm not sure what the nomination and voting processes entailed, but as far as politics go, this first show was fully loaded with serious East Coast (read: Montreal & Toronto) bias (not to mention the overall male bias of the show).
I won't lie. There were attempts to maintain a spirit of unity amongst DJs across Canada. Nominations included artists representing major Canadian cities like Vancouver, Halifax, Winnipeg and Calgary (to name a few). There was even a category specific to DJ's in other cities, where they read nominations and announced winners from the respective cities, all in one go. So I can't say DJ's living and working outside of Toronto weren't recognized (I mean, no big deal if we barely heard the names of the nominees and winners because it all happened too quickly).
Performers included the one-and-only DJ Dopey (doing a Jay Dee recognition set), Toronto's hot reggae sensation Trinity Chris, and Montreal's DJ duo, Team Canada (nuff said). Presenters included artists such as Toronto's Brassmunk, J-Diggz, and Montreal's Bless. The crowd consisted mainly of TO and Montreal people - not a surprise considering how far the west coasters had to travel to get here.
The show was hosted by FLOW 93.5's show hosts Mark Strong and Dr. Jay. Some of the highlights of the night included a special appearance by Michael Williams (former Much Music VJ) to welcome the legendary Butcher T to the Stylus DJ Awards Canadian Hall of Fame. Montreal's Butcher T was the first DJ to introduce hip hop and soul to a Canadian audience in the late 70's. Toronto's Sunshine Soundcrew, one of the main DJ crews in the Toronto scene (and the first to include an MC to engage the crowd), were the second to enter the Hall of Fame.
I'll admit it was refereshing to see recognition going to those individuals that are responsible for spreading the love for urban music to listening ears, booty shakers, and consumers. For better or for worse, this award show officially marked DJs on the mainstream map of Canadian music. And it's about time. Regardless of the pre-dominantly commercial nature of the event, this was a moment in Canadian music history where DJs got the official recognition they deserved. So, before the underground begins the usual hateration, it should look at the possibilities a show like this can bring for Canadian DJs.
In the end though, it was all about the T-dot. But come on now, is Canada's Torontocentrism really that surprising? So what if there's all this unrecognized talent across Canada; because in the end, no matter how dope you are, "when you think you got it locked, T dot comin much hotta" - and that's word to Kardi.