CFN – I think back on my time in Promotion. I was Working dead end middle Management Jobs, supporting my family, making music and promoting musicians and artists.
The hours were bad, the pay was non existent but I kept doing it. I was running full force at one point and making a lot of connections from all over the world. My facebook email was running with 30 Messages in my inbox daily and about 87 notifications.
By studying the logistics and statistics behind facebook reach and effective promotion, I was able to reach about 14,000 people with one post. Its 3am in the morning and I am getting emails from Artists in Ireland to Vancouver asking me to do articles on them.
I’m trying to drink my coffee and get ready for work when I get the old….”hey man what’s up!!!” I say good morning and as soon as I hit send…. BAM…..they send me a link to a new song they did. Shake my damn head…as the kids say. I had to give up promotion for a while, I got into all the cool parties but people wouldn’t leave me alone…… It was pretty crazy.
Artists are special people and I tell you that this trade is not for people who lack diplomacy, charm and thick skin.
I would send off a request to their Management team and the artist would ask how much I was paying them, when I replied nothing as I am promoting you I would usually get the some sort of egotistical response. YO DAWG!! YOU CAN’T JUST DO AN INTERVIEW ON BIG MONEY COUCH MASTER ESQUIRE MC MONEY BLING and NOT PAY ME!!! Well….Money Bling…is it? Yes I can…ps your songs suck.
On to the next one…
During my time I was able to make a lot of connections in the Aboriginal Music scene in Canada. I was always a huge fan of Artists like War Party, Tru Rez and Pioneers like Warriors Blood in Akwesasne. I tried to stay as local as possible but I strongly believe our Cornwall artists should be learning from all over the world. This is why I have interviewed artists on a Municipal, Regional, Provincial, National and World scale. I am from the City and I believe the City can learn from artists all over the world as well as from their own backyard.
I have always seen Aboriginal Hip Hop as a greatly misunderstood cultural music in a greatly misunderstood Genre. You have to live it, breath it and respect it to understand the multicultural diversity and intelligence involved in Hip Hop.
Hip Hop is like Canada. Our School system taught us that Canada is a diverse Country with an extremely bright and vivid multicultural background. I strongly believe that Aboriginal people should have a strong positive voice in Canadian Hip Hop and music in general. I have met a lot of Aboriginal artists and I will say that they are people with dreams and families just like you and I. I love aboriginal music and respect it greatly.
I used to weigh about 500 pounds at one point in my life and have dropped almost 250 pounds by adopting a healthy lifestyle, being positive and finding my passion again. During this long road I witnessed a Native hip hop artists named Relik doing the same thing. He was posting Gym selfies online. The progress was incredible and I noticed something in my newsfeed every day. A smile. A guy who was dedicated to self-improvement and bettering himself. I watched him go higher and higher until he was hitting the biggest stages and changing the face of Culture in his Community. CBC News, Aboriginal Music awards and our biggest Canadian award ceremony, The JUNO Awards. It was such an inspiration to me and encouraged me to keep improving until I could find my smile again.
Bill Leblanc AKA Relik is an Aboriginal Hip Hop Recording Artist from Edmonton. He has been making music for 30 years and knows his craft extremely well. He is a positive influence to not only the Aboriginal Music Scene but also to Canada in General. His music is real and his life success story is quite incredible. Bill responded to my interview on a long flight while traveling across Canada to perform shows and made time for a Journalist from Cornwall, Ontario.
In Hip Hop we say “He keeps it 100” meaning he is legit and true to what he does.
I am completely Honored to Interview Mr. Bill Leblanc and I welcome you to read and learn from this man’s words.
What’s good Sir. How are you doing?
“I’m doing well , thanks. Busy but no complaints over here. albums done, family and kids are healthy, and I woke up this morning.”
There are so many things I wanted to ask you as you have such a diverse portfolio of work here. First off can you explain a little bit about native culture and where the native hip hop scene came from? A little history if you will for our readers.
” Native culture has always played a part of hip hop for me, even its it’s beginning. When I was young and Chuck D from Public Enemy was trying to teach young black kids in the states, I always felt the need to try and reach out to our native youth. I try to do this in my music but it’s not as preachy and it pretty much tells a story that they can relate to. My Story.
I have always seen you as a very positive guy and very sharp minded, can you tell us a little about where you started out as there may be kids that will be inspired by what you have and continue to accomplish in music and business?
“I started out just like any young person. Rapping over someone else’s stuff in a mirror. The fact that I also played guitar at a young age played a major role.
Music was a part of me, even as a child and I knew it. I started by recording at home, and then over the years developed it and watched the music grow. Bought what I could for equipment. Wrote and recorded some great hip hop and then learned how to market it myself within a small label scenario.
Combined with working my ass off, its landed me this far and I still won’t stop. Neither should any young person who is passionate about it.
Do you feel criticism should have a constructive platform and clear cut plan of action in place if someone should feel the need to criticize someone else’s work or writing?
Yes. I’ve come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like it. But a good majority of them will. I don’t like everything, so therefore I’m a quick critic of the stuff i don’t like. Criticism is good. We’re all learning and growing.
Something I have learned from doing hip hop for 20 years is this, I never hate on another persons style and become too technical with writing. It is a balance. Do you feel hip hops competitive nature sometimes prevents it from growing larger? I say this because I watched artists like AZ and CANIBUS struggle. KRS ONE is not as set financially as say the Black Eyed Peas. Is it Rap too destructive?
That boils down to the famous “crossover” term. Good hip hop rarely makes it to the radio anymore and it’s all pop versions of other genres like pop, rock and RnB. As for the competitiveness….. possibly . Rather than competing we should all just network together it would benefit us all more in the end. Hip hop will always be competitive on the microphone, because that’s how it all started.
I know hip hop taught me a lot of life lessons through its music, kind of like The Movie ScarFace. Everyone live ScarFace but nobody truly gets the point of the film. It’s a cautionary tale of destruction. Jadakiss from LOX once said “you think you ScarFace but you ain’t seen the end of the movie” that sticks with me in a subjective way. Do you think hip hop has changed your life Sir?
Tough question because hip hop has been a part of me for almost 30 years. I have known hip hop and music in general for my entire life. It has definitely gotten me through some rough times for sure. I’ve also learned many things along the way through hip hop.
How are you giving back to communities in 2015?
In 2015 I already teamed with United Way to raise 24.9 million dollars toward poverty in Edmonton, which to me is highly important , seeing as i grew up low income and saw some serious poverty living on 118 in E town and still see it.
We headlined their annual red tie gala and received a standing ovation from the entire room including the mayor. This was an Amazing feeling and moment in my career.
I have also performed at the sixth annual hip hop for kidz fundraiser in April. All proceeds go to the Stollery Children’s Hospital
I am a huge supporter of the Edmonton food bank through “hip hop for hunger”. I really enjoy community type stuff because I feel like this is my way of giving back to the people through my music.
Aside from hip hop what do you listen to?
Tons of Classic Rock . some blues , jazz and even country. I probably listen to as much Rock as I do hip hop.
I grew up on the classics of all genres.
What do you think small cities or towns can do to raise awareness of hip hop and the positive aspects of the music without making it seem too child friendly?
Explain that it’s all about the content and the impact made on the listener. I try not to be vulgar about anything but I still need to bring about the anger, sorrow or excitement. Without a mood its nothing and the kids won’t listen. Hip hop has caught a bad rap since NWA, two live crew and Eminem. I’ve played so many festivals that were reluctant to even BOOK me because it was “hip hop”. I perform all my material but i sensor the few swears and still show the emotion in the words. The best things I hear after my shows are people of all ages saying” I dont even LIKE rap , but I really like YOU.”
Patrick Ackroyd is an Adventurer, sensationalist, motivational writer, graphic designer, most importantly a father of two beautiful girls. I love my City and I believe we need to see it in a more positive light. #irepmycity