Drop the Beat: picking up hip-hop for the hockey nation

By Justin Lee

CBC Television recently created an important dramatic series, Drop The Beat. A behind-the-scenes look at the Canadian hip-hop industry and the culture that surrounds it, the show follows two twenty-something males, Dennis and Jeff, who host a bi-weekly hip-hop campus radio show on the fictional CIBJ in Toronto. Dennis (Merwin Mondesir) is an up-and-coming music promoter who also manages the mc/DJ duo Projekt Flow featured on the show. "D" constantly tests the show’s limits, to the point where, at times, he jeopardizes the show’s future. Jeff (Mark Taylor), on the other hand, is the sensible one.

A university student majoring in business, Jeff always puts the show’s best interests in mind, shying away from anything too risqué.

As a result of this underlying difference between them, the two complement each other and throughout the series, learn from one another. Drop The Beat also features sound technician Mega (Omari Forrester), and Projekt Flow, comprised of female mc Divine, played by Canadian hip-hop pioneer, Michie Mee with Craft (Shamann) on the 1’s and 2’s.

Through their show, Dennis and Jeff have the ability to give their generation a voice, in addition to promoting Canadian hip-hop music and culture. However, more than a few obstacles hinder the duo from taking the show to the next level, whether it be a violent reaction between two rival gangs to some on-air comments made by Dennis or the complications of booking a CIBJ-sponsored show.

Drop The Beat boasts some strong performances from the cast; Merwin Mondesir and Mark Taylor effectively play off each other. Other notable performances include a strong acting debut by female mc Michie Mee, as the strong-minded Divine, and Ingrid Veninger as Lola Gallo, the radio station’s manger.

One of the largest draws to the half hour series are the many cameos from some of the top Canadian and American MCs. Throughout the first season, Choclair, Kardinal Offishall, Rahzel, Infinite and Rawkus duo High-and-Mighty are all set to appear in episodes and many of them will be "spitting lyrics" on the show.

Drop The Beat is both an entertaining and informative look at the Canadian urban music industry and culture. Many Canadians haven’t given the show much attention, arguing it, likeprevious Canadian television series, falls short of matching the slick aesthetic appearance of American shows. However, it is for this very reason that Drop The Beat is a clear-cut example of Canadian television at its best; the show has a very universal perspective, while still staying true to its Canadian roots. Drop The Beat acknowledges this crucial aspect and displays a positive outlook on hip-hop music and culture, something that mainstream media has rarely done since the beginning of hip-hop.