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City On My Back Archives » The Fine Print

The Fine Print: The Olympics Worked

hyperadmin | The Fine Print | Monday, March 1st, 2010

vancouver-2010-gold-medal

By Jonathon “Bizz” Brown

The 2010 Winter Olympics are over, but their influence on the hearts and minds of Canadians is just getting started. Third overall in the medal count and leading with 14 golds, Canada is a winner. Billions of dollars in spending, new & refurbished venues, a new approach to training our athletes, a new fleet of national heroes and last but, oh God – DEFINITELY not least a pair of gold medals in hockey has Canadians flying high. And it’s necessary in a time of giddy glee to recognize the bottom line of hosting an Olympics; to bring together the country.

With two embarrassingly gold-less Olympics on Canadian soil in decades past, we headed into these games humble and quiet, hoping we’d come away with a gold to call our own. Alexandre Bilodeau won men’s moguls on February 14th breaking the ice, changing his life forever and setting the tone for a storybook showing from the great host nation. While optimistic and feeling some momentum, Canadians started getting into the swing of this winning-thing. Maelle Ricker won her gold medal in snowboard cross and we started to pick up our feet a little higher when we walked. Jon Montgomery won the skeleton and in true Canadian form went for a pint as the country got in the habit of raising our glasses to success. Ashleigh McIvor wrote a paper in her freshman year of college arguing ski cross should be included in the winter Olympics. She sent it to the International Olympic Committee and ski cross debuted at the 2010 Olympics. Guess who won the gold medal?

The water cooler was getting crowded as the country rumbled about this victorious pace. The streets were quiet, until they were loud again. The medals continued to tally. The blogosphere went wild with commentary. The television ratings went through the roof. For once, Canadians were talking about Canadians more than anything.

The women won gold and silver in bobsleigh and as I watched their interview I remembered their hopeful faces gleaming during the opening ceremonies. Back then, they were just happy to be there soaking it all in. They were wide-eyed and overcome with excitement, but ultimately unsure of their standing on the world stage – just like their country.

Heck, I even broke down and watched the men win curling gold. And believe me, that’s Olympic spirit keeping me from changing the channel from a sport like curling. But, I was enthralled in the gold medal race and wanted to see us add to it. Because as a friend of mine said, “those are the only ones that really count.” I’m sure you understand the sentiment, however convenient it seems that our high brow expectations coincide with an unimaginable flurry of gold medal wins. Nonetheless, I watched and rooted and prayed to God we’d win gold in hockey.

“This will not be a fun place to be if we lose in hockey,” I remember thinking – and saying.

(more…)

The Fine Print: The Industry Felt Real…

hyperadmin | The Fine Print | Thursday, February 18th, 2010

jjisjenicdfront

By Jonathon “Bizz” Brown

If I walked away from last night’s launch party for JJisJeni.com with one comment it is this: it honestly felt like there was an urban music industry last night. Why? To be honest, I’m still trying hard to understand it myself. It just felt like a moment.

Typically “industry parties” come off more “industry” than “party.” And by that I mean everyone knows who they are and what they came to do (usually perform) and that is the beginning and end of their contribution to the evening’s mood. Not last night. It was a house full of people worth shaking hands with and they were there with open minds, open eyes and Toronto’s charisma in their step. From media to radio personalities to artists to producers to people like me who are as much fans of the culture as they are cultivators of it… it was a dynamic, up beat and powerful crowd. If you walked in off Mars last night, you’d swear that club was full of multi-platinum artists celebrating their success. And I think there lies the distinction. Everyone felt like they were genuinely partying, socializing, celebrating themselves andeach other.

Kim Davis sounded the best of the performers I caught. Jonny Roxx was one of the few artists to get the crowd involved with his antics. Lindo P is undeniable as a performer, especially in an intimate space like last night. Famous was walking around the club shooting a music video as he slapped hands. Instead of taking the stage, P Reign performed beside Drake from his booth as pictures snapped. Rochester’s stylish performance was television worthy. Spexx, Ill Kidz, P Plus, Jason Chambers, Dames Nellas, Sunny Diamonds, Soze… many people very influential on the musical tastes in Toronto and Canada were there in full effect.

I’ve unfortunately been to my share of “industry parties” where everyone seems like they’re just putting in time. Artists are looking at their watches as they stay hidden by the bar waiting for their turn to perform so they can leave. Fans aren’t very visible because everyone seems too much of a “someone” to submit to open fandom. A kind of blazablah, “it is what it is” attitude permeates the room. And I walk away thinking “shouldn’t that’ve been better?”

I clearly am a person who roots for the urban music industry in Canada. And for me, last night was a sign that the artists trying to be stars, do have the ability to come together and make everyone feel like one too. I submit this to the record as a moment.

Shouts to Jeni and JJisJeni.com

That’s The Fine Print

Previously – Event: JJisJeni.com Launch Party Tonight At Home Night Club

The Fine Print: Haiti & Humanity

hyperadmin | The Fine Print | Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

humanity

By Jonathon “Bizz” Brown

Our world houses over six billion people, in approximately 200 countries, consisting of countless nationalities, religions, agendas and varying priorities. Indeed it is a fragmented social climate for much of the time. Special interest groups, unions, protesters, armies, peace keepers, arms dealers, farmers, caregivers, tribal elders, community leaders, celebrities, teachers, therapists etc… There are lots of competing narratives. And with so many issues holding importance for different groups, sometimes the idea of a collective humanity sinks into the quicksand.

With Haiti’s tragic, devastating circumstances, the world is remembering the humanity that is our collective foundation. The idea that we, as human beings, are distinct from all other beings on this earth. The realization that our six billion people were born of the 5,4,3,2,1 billion people before them. The concept that the many pieces of our modern world, however opposed, remain under the umbrella of our global community. The momentum of an energy deep inside each of us that is intrinsically dependent on humanities well being. This all has come to light with the outpouring of support and emotion for the earthquake victims in Haiti. It came five years ago for the tsunami and a year after that for Katrina and thankfully it is resonating within many of us once again.

So with all the death, politics, logistics, critical analysis and missed opportunities we will continue to hear about from Haiti, I believe The Fine Print at this time is to center ourselves in the notion of humanity. Let this manifest itself in you however you see fit. But do not ignore it, embrace it. Acknowledge the specifics of this tragedy, but always remember what powers those specifics – the part of each of us that cares about humanity.

Bless.

That’s The Fine Print

The Fine Print: 50 Cent Runs For Office

hyperadmin | The Fine Print | Monday, November 16th, 2009

50_Cent_001_210109

By: Jonathon “Bizz” Brown

There’s a lot that seems obvious about 50 Cent’s marketing techniques. He perpetuates conflict to generate interest and diversifies his brand like no one else. But The Fine Print of 50’s power is his ability to stay on message. Politicians learn the same technique during media training and use it in interviews. After analyzing a candidate’s strengths, his/her base priorities and deducing relevant subject matter, the politician steers his/her answers towards these premeditated talking points to best communicate his/her platform. Go watch a political interview and count how many times the question that’s asked is actually answered directly. Doesn’t always happen. Why? Because it is in a person’s interest to reiterate their own position on a few key points to create a clear persona and platform for voters to judge.

Now on to 50. When asked about Before I Self Destruct, he continously goes back to the same points.

  • He’s returning to aggressive content.
  • He’s contrasting the lighthearted hip hop around right now (thus positioning himself as a symbol you can buy into to oppose that trend).
  • While others rap about the life they aspire to have, he raps about the painful pieces of life.
  • He continuously draws comparisons to Get Rich Or Die Trying.
  • He plays on the idea of a celebrity cycle in which the public builds you up to watch you fall later.

Now to continue to illustrate this point. What does 50 talk about when he’s talking down Rick Ross?

(more…)

The Fine Print: When Rappers Love Rappers

hyperadmin | The Fine Print | Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Print

By Jonathon “Bizz” Brown

If you didn’t know by now, tonight is the fourth Live Cypher Series. Eight of Canada’s illest rappers are scheduled to cypher together as a showcase of their raw rapping talent. This post isn’t about plugging the event as much as it is about commenting on the specifics that make it special.

There will always be rappers that have avid fans. The die-hard 50 fans will argue to the teeth he hasn’t fallen off. The gung-ho Weezy fans are forever dropping Wayne-infused-slang or sentiments. And Eminem’s “Stans” are still roaming. But the part about an event like this, is watching the rappers become fans.

It’s one thing when a crowd full of civilians go wild over a hot punchline or crazy wordplay. It’s completely different when a fellow artist does because they are peers. When someone is performing the same craft as you, it isn’t automatically as impressive simply because you can do it too. It’s the same reason the fans go wild for huge batting practice home runs, but the players barely twitch. And at least for me, watching such talented MCs stand side by side with artists they’ve heard of but haven’t worked with makes for such honest, unrehearsed displays of professional respect.

When Adam Bomb drops a bar and Bishop bangs on the table in a fit of enthusiasm.
When Magnum 357 provokes Mayhem to hoot and holler in the back ground during his verse.
When Peter Jackson’s head slowly raises midway through Scorsese’s verse, signally his increasing attention span.
When Rich Kidd yells ad libs behind Jonny Roxx totally unrehearsed…

THAT’S what creates the moments that define an event like this. The punchlines will be memorable, the variety of flows and approaches will be inevitable, but the camaraderie between peers is the intangible element that makes the Live Cypher Series so engaging.

WATCH live tonight online at Spiritlive.net from 6-8pm.

The Fine Print: T.O. State of Mind

hyperadmin | The Fine Print | Monday, October 12th, 2009

By Jonathon “Bizz” Brown

Have you ever noticed how many popular songs employ the “I Love New York” archetype? Of course you have, it’s the most amplified, glorified, and personalized metropolis in the world, the perfect pillar for a song about a single city the whole world can embrace. “Empire State of Mind” is the latest in the looong line of hip hop songs dedicated to the lights, camera, action of the biggest apple we’ve got. And as I drove down the 401 the other day and Alicia Keys belted out the chorus to radio’s new favorite song, it occurred to me just how cool it is to say “New York”. There’s something inherent in merely mentioning the city in music that gets the masses attached. Being the Toronto-centric individuals we are in my circle sometimes, Bishop Brigante and I started discussing how difficult it seems to envision a time when “Toronto” could connect in any comparable way.

Now, it’s not as if it’s a secret why “New York” resonates to strongly with music fans. New York is a wordly city, it hosts a ton of visual and cultural representations in the media, and it’s long been synonymous with adventure, stardom and potential. Frank Sinatra, Alice Cooper, Kurtis Blow, John Mayer, The Beach Boys, Sex Pistols, Neil Diamond, John Lennon, 50 Cent, Nas, Jay-z, Fat Joe, and every other rapper from the 5 boroughs has capitalized on New York’s sexy auditory appeal and perpetuated it’s mass cultural pull in doing so.

With this being said, it’s easy to understand why Toronto doesn’t work on the same level. Even though it’s on a much smaller scale, Toronto is a lot like New York in many ways, but not in this way. Toronto doesn’t have the artistic, cultural or commercial groundwork of New York so it can’t expect to hold the same top of the mind awareness.  But what about just a little bit? Other cities have had their shine; you’re telling me nobody here can associate Toronto with feelings of opportunity, enlightenment, power, diversity and freedom? It’s one of the most interesting cities to navigate and nobody can verbalize it well enough to garner any level of attention?

Well for this I have no solution, but instead a challenge. And it’s not to the artists, but instead to the regular people reading The Fine Print: spread the word about the cityscape, about the laughter, about the festivals, about the lights, about the education, about the cleanliness. Tell the people what’s great about the place we call home. And then tell them what we live through that makes us appreciate it all even more. Tell them about the transit strikes, about the taxes, about the smog alerts, about the traffic, about the snow storms and the erratic weather. Just tell them about Toronto and sooner or later, somebody somewhere will successfully verbalize a song that makes “Toronto” mean to the world what it means to us.

That’s The Fine Print.

The Fine Print: Cigarettes and Cellphones

hyperadmin | The Fine Print,Uncategorised | Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
Shocking Isnt It?

Shocking Isn't It?

By Jonathon Brown

Remember before the smoking sections even existed? When it was regular that smoking was everywhere? In the restaurants and bars, of course. But in the dollar store? At the LCBO! While driving with kids? In doctor’s offices! I’ve even heard stories about it in schools. It was clearly an acceptable practice at the time. As more information came forward, a new perception of common sense, safety and courtesy grew.1

Now, we can’t even fathom a mall full of cigarette smoke. Smokers have been banned and relegated to the great outdoors to fidget, and huff and puff a much rougher winter than their cushy, non smoking counterparts who spend their break time at room temperature. Just try and picture that typical 50 year old bus driver hootin’ on his extra strength-death as he boots down the road carting tomoro’s great minds to school. And on some Home Alone vibe, it quickly registers “I DON’T THINK SO.”

Not in the stores, not in the car with kids, not at the bar, not even by the doors of a movie theatre – “Back up and take that habit-on-the-hip somewhere else!”

So now it’s a wonderful world – word to Louis Armstrong. (more…)

The Fine Print: Kanye West Drank His Way Home

hyperadmin | The Fine Print | Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
KANYE - 1
KANYE OUTSIDE VMA’S @ ENTRANCE. Henny In Hand But Mostly Full…

By Jonathon Brown

By now everyone’s dropped a “did you hear about Kanye at the VMA’s,” here or there. Everyone’s telling each other about how Kanye went off the deep end and couldn’t swim. If you just woke up, he basically interrupted Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech and decreed Beyonce’s video was unquestionably his pick for the award. And let me just say, it was just in time too. I’ll tell ya, as soon as the winner was announced I immediately wanted to hear Kanye’s take. It was perfect timing if you ask me. He shouldn’t have even handed the mic to her in the first place. It was his time to shine, his time to be a cultural commentator instead of the what the culture commented on. So I feel satisfied and fufilled with my VMA experience now that I witnessed such an exhibition of liberty and free speech. Furthermore, I was elated to see Lil’ Mama take on the same energy in her injection into Jay-z’ performance. I mean overall, Kanye changed the face of the awards show and did it with style, did it with influence, did it with ……….a bottle of HENNY!

ENOUGH with that crap. (more…)

[The Fine Print] Toronto Vs. Canada

hyperadmin | The Fine Print | Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

img_8202zz800

By Jonathon “Bizz” Brown

I recently returned from the Busta Rhymes tour and my first experience with western Canada. We got as far as Calgary and then came back east, stopping in Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg before returning to Toronto and then Barrie, Ontario. And after such a whirlwind trip, I came to a conclusion that seems, at first glance quite obvious, yet holds much more weight when confirmed by conversations with young people across this great country: there’s Canada and then there’s Toronto.

In my time, I’ve heard opinions about the relationship: Torontonians live in a bubble consisting of the GTA, the rest of Canada looks at Toronto with disdain, the media focuses too heavily on Toronto-centric issues, etc. It seemed the underlying consequence in all of them was Canada’s negative disconnect between Toronto’s opinion of itself and Canada’s perception of Toronto and it’s self involvement. But this was not the case, at least in my experiences.

At every stop, I was the talker. I reached out and greeted dozens of people at every venue, old and young, male and female, white and black, die hard and passive fans a like. And in every city, they asked me where I was from. When I told them I lived in Toronto, their eyes lit up with excitement as if the mere mention of Hogtown brought fantastical images of good times and opportunity to their imaginations. I asked one woman in Edmonton how she liked it there. And somehow, in the midst of over 1,000 amped Busta fans, she shrugged and said she wished she could go to Toronto. I told a beautiful young lady in Saskatoon where I was from and she immediately started a rant about how little there was to do in her town. She also wished she could be in Toronto. It turned into a trend and I started wondering why these people held so little pride in their hometowns. The air was clean, the roads were well kept, in some cases the transportation infrastructure was great, the people were welcoming and overall the communities seemed worthy of praise. But nope, Toronto was the intended destination. Toronto was the place where they could go to live the life they wished they were living already.  And I realized more than I ever had before that Toronto is by all accounts its own entity opposite an entire country.

(more…)

The Fine Print – Business & Friends

hyperadmin | The Fine Print | Monday, August 31st, 2009

mfln72l
By Jonathon “Bizz” Brown

Nobody said I couldn’t express my observations for The Fine Print through poetry. So here is a piece I put together a few months back after a series of events opened my eyes to the dangerous dynamics between business and friends.

Certain mans in certain situations are terribly misguided
certain scenes make ‘em certain they’re like I am.
Or better yet, better than and due some big favors.
Or better yet, any favor. Any question better get answered!
Now it’s their gig, with their click.
Swinging for the fences they miss the pitch.
You build not bully, then see money.
You learn then lead, then others start to believe.
Nothing is owed beyond a blink or a double take.
Too fast comin’ up and soon the money’s late.
It’s gone before it comes,
It’s worn before its hung,
It’s said before its thought and taken back before it’s bought…. (more…)

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