In the golden days of the Khyber Club you would see Classified, NEP and Jesse Dangerously standing in the same huddle. Buck 65 would watch Skratch Bastid work the turntables while JoRun nodded his head in benediction, as Josh Martinez and EMC used their dreads as skipping ropes.
The children of that golden era are plotting to bring those days back.
Peter Kelly (DJ Petey Punch) and Matt Mills (General Mills) have created The Halifax Boom Bap Project, being released with a show July 2 at the Paragon. With 28 contributors, including such big names as Classified, Ghettosocks and Universal Soul, plus a host of up-and-comers, this is arguably the largest collaborative hip-hop project this city has seen.
Raised in the tutelage of Halifax's notorious crackbeat society, where old-school rappers reached out to the next generation, Kelly and Mills are looking to give back. Returning to the scene that made their university years worthwhile, the duo felt a bit of the love had left and wanted to bring those days back.
Due to Mills' connections at the Paragon, the project has already received attention from established players like Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Premier, Masta Ace and the GZA. When Bambaataa performed in town, Mills spent a weekend escorting him to cultural sites across the Maritimes and digging through record crates. Driven by inspiring words from the hip-hop legend, Mills began plotting a large project which came together when Petey moved back from Montreal and wanted to get in on the scene.
Once they had a few people interested, the idea snowballed and suddenly a who's-who of Halifax rappers said yes to being on the record. Now there are hundreds of pressed CDs with beautiful album art, branded clothing and even a flag.
"I just want to get this scene the shine it so richly deserves," says Mills, who, with the help of family and friends, has invested financially in the hopes of bringing the Hali scene together. "People have to jump out of here to get their jump off. I think that we need to support our local artists and help them get out there. Now the scene is made up of artists and there are too few fans. My hope is to change that."
For $15, the Boom Bap CD offers listeners a tour of the Hali hip-hop scene, plus over an hour of new material. "Artwork was done locally, Ghettosocks did the design layout, Petey did the beats and dozens of dudes contributed their talent," says Mills. "For me this project is about unity. Working together to lift our scene up."
And what will the Boom Bap compilation offer listeners?
"As Classified raps in 'Maritimes:' 'We got everything you wanna hear, conscious to backpack, commercial to gangsta, R&B to abstract,'" says Punch. "We've got a pretty broad breeding ground for talent and culture; it would likely flourish with some funding and exposure."
"The Boom Bap Project to me is something that I hope will rekindle the once greatly unified underground hip-hop scene that Halifax used to have and be known for globally," says Brian Pellerine, AKA DJ IV, the Stylus Awards' east coast DJ of the year. "It's something that somebody had to do, and I honestly don't think there's anybody better than Mills and Petey who could have done a project like this and have it turn out the way it has."
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