Black Belt Jones had quit a few gigs under our belts, but we were generally playing with Wiggaz or other bands that catered to the heavy music crowd. As far as Brampton went the only other "rap groups" I knew of were "Endangered Elements" and "Team Scam".
Elements consisted of two members I believe, but the only one I ever met was Kevin McG who lived on Paul's street. He was white, quiet, and fairly reserved. I belive I only ever got to hear one of their songs, but he did join us for our end of the set freestyle session at the Ivy Bridge.
Team Scam consisted of two of the best skaters to ever shred the streets of Brampton, Navi Singh & Sheldon Street. Back in the 3 n' Pass days we had them open for us at Tremors in Brampton, but since then they had sort of disappeared. To be honest I didn't even know if they were still making music.
It was tough trying to win over these metal crowds at shows as most of them were there for just that....metal. People were more open minded now to rap even though many of those people despised rap 5-10 years prior. A lot of guys who liked metal and hardcore seemed to appreciate rap, and perhaps it's because they saw and felt the same parallels between the two that I did. It was always a great feeling to see some longhairs flailing around the dance floor while we played, many whom were friends of ours. I couldn't help but wonder if they actually liked our music or if they were just being courteous as it was the friendly thing to do.
Finally the call came we were waiting for, a new rap group to perform with. "The King" Willie New got in touch with us to see if we'd be interested in playing a gig with a rap group from the east coast of Halifax, and naturally we agreed. It was a breath of fresh air to know other kids across Canada were also making rap music. The group in question was called "Hip Club Groove" and us Black Belt boys were highly anticipating the show so we could see what they were all about.
The day of the show finally arrived and we headed down to The Elmo with our gear. We met up with the Hip Club guys and they were super cool. We chilled in the "backstage" kitchen area and enjoyed a few drinks and puffs while getting acquainted. When show time rolled around we finally got to see them hone their craft, and they did it well. HCG consisted of three members; Mackenzie, ChekLove & DJ Moves. Right from the get go I really enjoyed their energy. Both MCs had skills, stage presence, and great voices.
Mackenzie always reminded me of MCA from the Beasties. He did not sound like him, but had somewhat of a similar look and personality. ChekLove was of smaller stature but he was larger than life. With his long braids, flashy style, and in your face voice, he demanded your attention while on stage. I didn't know what to make of Moves at first, he was very quiet and hard to get a read on. I assumed he was just a quiet guy, or perhaps shy, but in the end I saw him as a white Terminator X, a man who only "speaks with his hands" through the turntables.
Their set was killer, and all us BBJ boys really enjoyed it. Once again it was just refreshing to see someone else on the same page. We did our usual set then busted into the open mic freestyle jam at the end of our set as we always did. Mackenzie & ChekLove came up to join us and the mics were set ablaze. After the gig it was all good and all love. We had made some new friends, and we let them know that we'd take care of anything they needed during their visit.
Sure enough we got the call that weekend. Hip Club were performing in a record store inside a shopping mall, I can't remember where but I think it was the Woodbine centre. They had no idea where or what it was. Pauly gave them the 411, directions etc. and told them we'd be there. Before long we were in the car and on our way there. We met the guys outside the mall and partook in some herbal activities. From there we headed in to watch their performance, and I was honoured and humbled when the guys asked me to come up and spit some frees with them. These boys were a class act.
We were sad to see them go when the time came, but we knew we'd cherish these memories. Demo tape and cd exchanges went down before the dreaded goodbyes. I honestly didn't know if we'd ever see them or get to play with them again.
The next time I saw Mackenzie was a year or two later. I randomly bumped into him on the streets of Toronto and he informed me himself and Moves were now apart of a band called "Len" who were getting pretty good exposure. It was cool seeing these guys on tv and getting some recognition that they rightfully deserved.
I never knew what became of ChekLove until almost a decade later when I watched the tv show Trailer Park Boys for the first time. I was stoked to see him on a tv show as one half of the now infamous "Cory & Trevor". Since then, he's gone on to do choreography, directing and creating independent films of his own.
If you ever by some chance happen to see any Hip Club Groove CDs in the bins at your local record stores I suggest you snatch that shit up, as they are truly an important piece of Canadian hip hop history.