Rotterdam is the capital of urban music in the Netherlands. It is here that Canadian Blast in partnership with Urban Music Association of Canada (UMAC) makes our opening foray into urban and hip-hop music at New Skool Rules festival. The event is planned quite differently to others we've done with artists showcasing for between 6 and 20 minutes during the day alongside a series of panels. Parties occur at night for the delegates with more performances, DJs and the like. We have a total of five Canadians here: The Art of Fresh, JDiggz, Kim Davis, Kae Sun and Page. It's quite impressive given there are 60 odd performances throughout the three day conference. None of the bands performed consecutively, instead being dotted across the three days in the main hall. Art of Fresh and Kae Sun performed on Friday, with Kim and Page taking Saturday and JDiggz on Sunday.
Factory 010, as it’s name suggests, is a converted factory. With the rooms and concert hall on the tenth story overlooking the outskirts of Rotterdam, it's quite industrial but impressively large. Apparently the ground floor holds a 4000 capacity concert hall.
The first of our artists to showcase, Slakah and Beatchild and D.O. began with 20 minutes of classic Art of Fresh, similar to what they delivered in Cannes at MIDEM in January. While the showcase hall wasn't packed, those in attendance were wowed by the call-and-answer rap and DJ skills of Ghanaian Canadian DJ Nana. Next to showcase was Kae Sun who turned in a set of acoustic folk off his sophomore record, Lion of a Leash. He displayed a unique take on folk and hip-hop, blending them in a way that very few are doing right now.
Sunday featured Kim Davis and her workshop on soul in the afternoon and a gangsta-influenced six song set from Page in the evening, featuring his hit 'I'm Still Fly'. Page was also one of the performers invited to perform at the official New Skool Rules party later that evening. The final Canadian artist to perform was JDiggz, whose showed just why he reached number one on the MuchMusic chart.
Wherever you went at New Skool Rules it was hard to avoid the presence of Canadians: Canadian Blast posters flooded the factory venue and as well as the artists there was also many representatives at the talks and panels, including a keynote from K'Naan's managers and former major label A&R, Sol Guy.
With a successful first event in the Urban and Hip-Hop arena, our attentions now turn to our second Urban and Hip Hop event, this time at King’s Place, London as part of the MusicConnex conference. The event will be a free show and will again feature shows from Art of Fresh, Page and JDIggz who will be joined by Rich Kidd and Famous in a show not to be missed. In the meantime, Art of Fresh’s Slakah the Beatchild will hit London's VIBE Bar this week while JDiggz will be doing the radio rounds. Canadians are surely making a splash in Europe with these Blast Events. London take note.