It’s no secret that Quebec is a hotbed of music talent, with iconic stars like Céline Dion and Les Cowboys Fringants hailing from the province. What stands out over the last few years is the rapid growth of Quebec francophone hip hop with numerous established and emerging artists sharing their lyrics with listeners locally and across the globe. 2022 is a particularly important year for Quebec rap as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of Dubmatique’s ”La force de comprendre” often recognized for bringing the genre to the forefront. Alongside them, a wave of artists and groups like Muzion, Taktika and Sans Pression have led the way for today’s artists like Loud, FouKi, Souldia, 5sang14 and many more.
With music videos being a big part of hip hop culture, YouTube has become a tool for many artists to showcase their art and grow their following internationally. Steve Jolin of Disques 7ième Ciel shared, “Music videos are one of the best ways to reach our audience and have always been. Rap is young music, and insiders are often fond of new technologies. I believe that Quebec Hip Hop has never been so uninhibited. There is something for everyone and in terms of quality, we can compete with the entire planet. Sky is the limit for Quebec Hip Hop.”
Their success is being recognized with YouTube’s Artist on the Rise program, which highlights Canadian artists to watch, and featured several artists in the Quebec hip hop scene this year including Shreez, Manu Militari, FouKi and Rymz. According to YouTube, searches for “French hip hop” in Canada increased by 24% year over year.
Joy Ride Records director Carlos Munoz says “I believe that with the means of production and promotion being more democratic, there has been an explosion in the quantity of artists who now have the ability to produce music at low cost and to share it through social networks like YouTube and reach considerable audiences. This democratization of distribution has therefore allowed more local talent to express themselves and to be seen and heard. Before, everything was reserved for an exclusive group who had the means to produce music and to market it, and these people were not necessarily the most talented musically, but only those who had the access. Now, the streets can express their stories at will, and in rap, it’s impossible to think that rap can develop without the contributions of the street.”
According to YouTube, searches for “French hip hop” in Canada increased by 24% year over year
When asked what the opportunities are for hip-hop artists in Quebec, artist Imposs believes the opportunity for direct access to fans. “Social media, YouTube, soundcloud and DSPs allow artists to bypass the middle man and speak directly to their fans. Artists are no longer at the mercy of the traditional resources and platforms once needed to promote their work. Independently, rappers are now able to sell-out shows and achieve big numbers, often garnering more interest without resources than the province's most promoted popular artists. This new ecosystem and business model is being driven by a wave of enterprising rappers, including Enima (MMS), 5sang14 Canicule Records, Izzy-S, Souldia and many more.”
Now’s your chance to discover Quebecois rap! Listen to some of the artists mentioned above, or get to know Canadian freestyle with the “Check the Flow” playlist on YouTube Canada featuring some heavy hitting Quebecois and Canadian artists.