I’ve traveled quite a bit throughout the US and Europe and the differences between the two are as vast as the Atlantic ocean separating them. My favourite difference is the reaction I get from folks when I tell them I’m from Canada. In Europe, folks will actually name off cities they know and have visited. They know Toronto and can share stories of visiting our beautiful city in the summer.
When in the US, I’d often get a surprised look. “Really, wow that’s far!”, said by a New Yorker. “I didn’t know there were black folks up there” was said to me while in Memphis one time. Especially in the early 2000s, I often met folks in the US who had never traveled to Canada let alone met any Canadians. But in my recent trips, things have changed.
In my most recent trips to the US, folks told me directly they love Toronto and can name actual landmarks they’ve visited. What caused this sudden change? What made Canada, more specifically Toronto for my experience, more attractive to our louder than life cousins south of the border?
What got me thinking about this today was an article I read from the New York Times called ‘With The Rise of Justin Trudeau, Canada is Suddenly…Hip?’. The added question mark got me. Because the cold North couldn’t be anything but Labatt drinking hockey players, right? After a while the stereotypes and narrow thinking must get tiring.
I’m not going to quote too much from that sadly written and hyperbolic article, but to sum up the writer concludes that the prince Justin Trudeau has taken us out of our dark ages and made us all magically cool to the world…something like that.
But to me, what caused the tides to change in the eyes of the US arts media when it comes to us is that we stopped caring. For so long, Canadian artists especially musical acts were expected to emulate their successful American counterparts. And with the rise of Drake, who uses his awkwardness and eloquence to his advantage giving him a competitive edge, we are now seeing more artists who are abandoning the old scripture and forging their own path. The sounds of The Weeknd, Majid Jordan and producer Wondagurl to name a few are unlike any south of the border and that’s what makes them coveted. And that’s what’s got them looking our way wondering how we ‘all of a sudden got hip’.
Nah fam, we been hip!