‹ Tri-City Hip-Hop

Divo - Chandler Drive

I first started listening to hip-hop around 1992, when I lived on Chandler Drive. At the time, we played cassettes on boomboxes and one of my first ones was the Das EFX album "Dead Serious", which really made a mark on me. I memorized all the lyrics to every song and would listen to it constantly. The hard beats would make my head nod along with the complex flow of skilled emcees Krazy Draz and Skoob. The next album I bought would be the one that influenced me to start rapping; it was Cypress Hill’s self titled debut. B-Real and Sen Dog were Latinos like me, which made me connect with them instantly. They rapped about issues and experiences I could relate to because they were things that were going on in my neighbourhood: drug dealing, crime, run-ins with the police and in general life in a low-income community full of new immigrants.

Many more monumental albums in hip hop would come out in the early nineties while I was living on Chandler: Nas' "Illmatic", Snoop's "Doggy Style", Dr. Dre's "The Chronic", Wu-Tang Clan's "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)", Notorious B.I.G.'s "Ready to Die", and so on. I would plaster my bedroom wall with pictures of them from pages of The Source magazine.

I started writing lyrics during this time when I was in my early teens and was heavily influenced by these artists. One of my first performances was in grade 7 at Laurentian Public School, when I covered a Cypress Hill song during a class talent show. I’m sure it was the first time my teacher had heard anything like it. As the years passed, I would always mention Chandler in my rhymes and I was proud of where I started from.

The message of the music at that time was more about the struggle to make something out nothing, to rise up from poverty and be successful. To stand your ground, earn respect, maintain loyalty and represent your hood. These are all things that molded my character and made me the person I am today.