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From the Weeknd to Big Black Lincoln: R&B for Canada 150
By
Amanda Parris

Published

July 4, 2017

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In celebration of Canada's birthday, this episode of Marvin's Room is all Canadian R&B all hour long.

Amanda Parris is the host of the new CBC Radio 2 show Marvin's Room.
Listen to Marvin's Room, June 30th 2017

Marvin's Room with Amanda Parris on CBC Radio

Audio

The Canadiana explored in the world of R&B is not defined by plaid shirts, hockey sticks and poutines. These artists dabble in face paint, more often than not may be found in a hoodie and push a sound that flirts with reggae rhythms and dives deeply into hip-hop bass beats. Canadian artists have helped shape the sound of R&B around the world in powerful ways. Right now we're shining a spotlight on six of the most impactful R&B artists that call the North home.


Cougars

This name may not be familiar to most, but the Cougars were part of a generation of Jamaican artists who arrived in Toronto in the 1960s and brought with them a sound that combined the reggae rhythms emerging from the Caribbean with the soul sounds of Motown. Racism stopped most of them from getting record deals or touring contracts, but the influence of their experimental sound can be heard in the music emerging from Canada today.


Deborah Cox

Deborah Cox is the uncontested queen of the Canadian R&B ballad. To this day we have yet to see a female Canadian R&B star reach the heights of success that Cox had in the ‘90s. Unfortunately, as with so many artists in the pre-Drake era (and some would say to this day), that success only arrived for Cox after she left Canada and moved to L.A.


Jully Black

Named by CBC Music as one of the 25 greatest Canadian singers ever, Jully Black is often dubbed Canada's Queen of R&B. Her powerhouse vocals are matched only by her undeniably electric stage presence. And her numerous collaborations have created Canadian R&B classics.


Big Black Lincoln

Hip-hop today is filled with singing rappers, but in the early naughts the hip-hop supergroup Big Black Lincoln (made up of Saukrates, T.R.A.C.K.S., Agile, Ro Dolla and Shakari Nyte) was one of the first to experiment with sounds that moved from soul to house and funk to electronica. The band's album Heaven's Caught on Fire is credited by many hip-hop heads as the record that transformed the sound of the city.


Drake

Aubrey Graham, a.k.a. Drake, is without a doubt one of the most important musical artists to ever emerge from Canada. He and his production team have fundamentally transformed the sound of R&B and hip-hop and countless artists around the world consistently try to emulate the style now known as the Toronto sound.


The Weeknd

He emerged as the dark and dangerous R&B underdog, loved by moody teenagers who religiously bumped his too-risqué-for-radio-play mixtapes. In the years since, the Weeknd has expanded his creative reach, creating catchy and addictive pop tunes that even your uncle will jam to at the summer barbecue. That flexibility has made the Weeknd, in no uncertain terms, a bona fide pop star.


The Marvin's Room Playlist for June 30, 2017

  1. Drake, "Passionfruit"
  2. The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk, "I Feel It Coming"
  3. Justin Bieber, "Sorry"
  4. Tory Lanez feat. Sean Paul, "Luv Remix"
  5. Iskwé, "Slack Jaw"
  6. Tamia and Fabolous, "Into You"
  7. Shi Wisdom feat. KJ, "LoveSpeak"
  8. Baby Blue Soundcrew feat. Kardinall Offishall, Jully Black and Sean Paul, "Money Jane"
  9. Big Black Lincoln, "In the Hood"
  10. Cee-lo and Melanie Fiona, "Fool For You"
  11. Deborah Cox, "Nobody’s Supposed to be Here"
  12. Daniel Caesar, "Streetcar"