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Maestro's message getting through

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(these eyes) seen a lot of shame in the game

(these eyes) seen a lot of pain with the fame

(these eyes) seen a lot of highs and lows, but that's just the way life goes

(these eyes) seen my name written in lights

(these eyes) I seen a lot of things in my life

(these eyes) seen a lot of highs and lows, but that's just the way life goes

WHO: Maestro

WHERE: Garfinkel’s

WHEN: Monday, Jan. 15

Of the many achievements in his illustrious 10-plus year career in the Canadian hip-hop industry, Maestro cites the use of his music in the film tribute to Pierre Trudeau as among his greatest milestones.

The 1999 hit single Stick to Your Vision is the theme song for a posthumous documentary on the life of the late prime minister. The song is based around a sample of the Guess Who’s classic These Eyes and was also featured at this year’s Grey Cup.

"I was flattered, honoured, to be part of that tribute to one of the greatest Canadians – it also shows my message is getting through to a lot of people," Maestro said this week.

Since he first pioneered Canada’s rap industry in the late 1980s, Maestro – or as he was formerly known, Maestro Fresh-Wes – has had good reason to be satisfied. The rapper from Toronto still holds the record as Canada’s top selling hip-hop artist, with his 1990 release Symphony In Effect remaining the best selling Canadian rap album of all time. Furthermore, his 1989 hit single Let Your Backbone Slide is still the biggest selling home-grown rap track in history.

Ten years on, Maestro has just released his fifth album, Ever Since . In the often unforgiving and short-career world of the hip-hop industry, Maestro knew this album had to be tight and focussed, especially since its predecessor – Built to Last – didn’t exactly fire up the charts. However, he says Ever Since is definitely his best work yet.

"I listened to suggestions from the younger cats so the production is definitely tighter than the last album," he says.

The team behind Ever Since includes Canuck rappers Saukrates and Kardinal Offishal. True to form, this latest work is another example of Maestro’s lyrical rhyming talent.

"It’s a mix of party music and food for thought," he said. "You just have to stick to your vision for the inspiration."

Content from the new album will take centre stage during Maestro’s upcoming Whistler performance, which is part of the Off Da Hookt Tour 2001 with Ghetto Concept and newcomers The 1/2 Black Italianz. The tour coincides with the release of the second single from Ever Since, entitled Poppa Stro. The month-long tour schedule will see the groups hyping crowds from Kamloops to Ontario.

This Whistler visit will be Maestro’s third, but this time he says he may want to try something different – snowboarding.

"I’ve never tried it before but am really keen to give it a go – it looks fun."

Sounds like a fair exchange: the "godfather of urban music" offers up a little freestyle rapping while Whistler hands over some freestyle boarding.

And as the saying goes, when in Rome….

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