Let’s face it, when it comes to contemporary pop music, Drake is the top of the top and the what of what-not. He’s a billion-times streamed, a public-beef starter and ender, a wearer of an NBA championship ring, a Bridle-Path-mansion dweller and the beard who fills arenas. Producing a podcast about the evolution of hip-hop without dealing heavily with Drake would be as advisable as making a sandwich without bread.
CBC doesn’t try to avoid the unavoidable, even if it does call its new five-part podcast This is not a Drake podcast. As spelled out by host Ty Harper in the show’s prologue, the series looks at hip-hop through the lens of Drake. The show is about the mixtape revolution that made his career-launching So Far Gone possible. It’s about the Toronto hip-hop scene that spawned him. It’s about gender dynamics and race. It’s about the genre-blurring of rap and R&B. It’s about four-and-a-half hours long, rolled out weekly, and it’s one of three recommended podcasts this week.
Something new: The Junos invited Drake to host its 2011 awards and then gave him no trophies despite his six nominations. What happened there? In 2005, Canadian rap star Kardinal Offishall famously destroyed a guitar on stage at a major Toronto hip-hop festival. What in the name of Jimi Hendrix was he thinking? These questions and more are answered on This is not a Drake podcast. The limited-run CBC series devotes its debut episodeto the anti-Black bias in the Canadian music industry. Host Ty Harper and a smart crew of talking heads and musicians (including Offishall and k-os, but not Drake) tell a tight tale about the history of disrespect shown to Toronto hip hop.
Something classic: Early in The Bob Lefsetz Podcastlast week, legendary Canadian rock producer Bob Ezrin casually mentioned to music insider Lefsetz that he and wife were recently in the Bahamas, where he was working on a memoir he’d long threatened to write. Some 100 minutes of conversation later, you want to lock Ezrin in room with a typewriter and tell him to finish the book already because he’s an interesting cat, whether sharing thoughts on Black-white relations or telling stories about Alice Cooper. (Did you know country superstar Vince Gill once contributed a guitar solo to a Cooper recording that was so wicked that Cooper’s own guitarist couldn’t replicate it on stage? The song has never made it onto an Alice Cooper set list for that reason.) Last week’s freewheeling episode with Ezrin was just the first half of a two-parter. Stay tuned, or wait til the books comes out.
Something coronavirus: Inside Stories is nothing high-concept, just a look at how interesting people – famous or not quite – are handling the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, host Scott Simmie speaks with Kent Nagano, who, as the music director of the sidelined Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the shuttered Hamburg State Opera, is a maestro between movements. Sequestered in Paris with his wife and daughter, Nagano finds that the pandemic-caused self-isolation has resulted in a healthier lifestyle and a return to a relaxing routine and a level of communication his family hasn’t enjoyed in years. The conductor calls it a “higher quality of interaction.” I might describe it as getting in tune.
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