By Will Yannacoulias
The late 1990’s and early 2000’s saw the birth of a vibrant rap music scene in Saskatoon, centered around the record stores “Kno-Static Records”, “Phonographique”, the Marion Graham Collegiate school, and the radio program Third Verse on CFCR 90.5 FM. Cross pollination between Saskatoon and a sister-scene in Winnipeg throughout the first decade of the 2000s launched a community of pioneering artists, independent labels, collectives and records. In February Saskatoon Folk Rap Records released the vinyl 10” From Saskatoon to Winnipeg 2000-2008, a five track compilation of some of the best known artists from the height of that scene. Contributions from Nolto, Epic, Factor Chandelier, Soso, Yy & The Gumshoe Strut show the diverse styles that coalesced into the Saskatoon-Winnipeg sound. Nolto recently spoke with NSMZ about the compilation and the scene that it celebrates.
“In the early 2000’s”, Nolto recalls, “Saskatoon began developing a strong foundation of independent rap fans and enthusiasts. Side Road Records and Clothes Horse Records were closely integrated friend groups, the owners of which each owned a record store at some point in Saskatoon. The owner of Side Road Records, Factor Chandelier, owned a shop called "Kno-Static Records". The owner of Clotheshorse Records, Soso, owned a shop called "Phonographique". Many of the Saskatoon artists, albeit not all, attended Marion Graham Collegiate in the North End of Saskatoon, including Epic, Factor Chandelier, Chaps, Nolto, M-Phasis, Dren, Forgetful Jones, and others.”
The artists represented by these two independent labels were steadily performing around Saskatoon, well received by an enthusiastic audience. Nolto remembers, “Soso and Factor Chandelier often put on their own shows, as well as DJ Heywood (the current owner of Undergrind Skates) and Matt Schryer (operating as Big Time Hip-hop Productions), which were mostly held at The Jazz Bassment, Amigos, the Voodoo Lounge, the Union Centre, and the Airliner.”
Winnipeg and Saskatoon’s rap music scenes were closely interwoven, with many musical and personal relationships forming that still exist today. “Winnipeg had a similar development, which preceded Saskatoon's by a few years” Nolto explained. “Artists from two Winnipeg labels, Peanuts & Corn Records and Your Brother In My Backpack, often came to Saskatoon to perform shows and they developed a close friendship with the artists on Clotheshorse Records and Side Road Records, appearing on each other's records, touring together and forming long lasting relationships with one another.”
“The busiest years were between 2000-2008, which saw many releases that are now considered underground classics. While the record labels continue to be active, they have slowed down considerably over the years, because we all grew older, got married, had kids, and pursued non-music careers. We decided to press some of our favourite songs from the golden years on vinyl for the first time this year.”
The vinyl 10” From Saskatoon To Winnipeg 2000-2008 is available for purchase on Nolto's Bandcamp or directly from Nolto in Saskatoon, from Epic in Edmonton, or from The Gumshoe Strut in Winnipeg.