Shad, Grand Analog, Michie Mee and Cadence Weapon.
Their names may not be as familiar as Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and T.I., but many Canadian hip hop artists have been around just as long.
"The industry in Canada I don't feel has found a way to package hip hop to Canadians and to Americans for that matter," says filmmaker Joe Klymkiw. "I think they don't understand the audience."
A fan of the genre since he was a kid in Manitoba, Klymkiw couldn't understand why the Canadian performers he listened to, such as The Rascalz and Maestro Fresh-Wes, weren't as big as their American counterparts.
"And I was always baffled that guys like Mood Ruff that turned into Grand Analog weren't bigger at the time because I felt like their music was really good."
Flash forward to five years ago, and Klymkiw was working at UBC radio station CiTR. While doing his show Beats from the Basement, which covered old-school jams and more, he decided Canadian hip hop wasn't being represented the way he thought it should be.
When he found out Maestro Fresh-Wes, now known as Maestro, was coming to town, Klymkiw had plans to interview him for his radio show.
"But then I thought it would be a great idea to ask him about how he started in Canadian hip hop and who he looked up to," he explains.
That then led to a plan to expand his idea into a feature length film.
The result is a new documentary, five years in the making, called Hip Hop Eh.
Starring an impressive roster of Canadian talent including Maestro, Buck 65, Kardinal Offishall, Dream Warriors, Michie Mee, Cadence Weapon, Classified, Z-Trip, Rascalz, Swollen Members, Shad and Grand Analog, the film takes a look at the pioneers behind the hip hop music scene in Canada.
This was Klymkiw's first foray into the documentary film world, and he says it was a challenge to get interviews with everyone he wanted in the film. He was going to release the movie last year until he got an opportunity to attend a CBC hip-hop symposium where he was able to snag a lot of the Torontobased artists featured in the film.
"Some people were harder [to interview]," says Klymkiw who travelled to Los Angeles last year to try to track down K'naan and his manager Soul Guy, but was unable to get the interview.
Although he wanted K'naan in the film, Klymkiw says the artist behind the international hit "Waving Flag" is more pop than hip hop now.
"I wouldn't really classify K'naan as hip-hop anymore. His last couple of albums have been more melodic, not so much hip hop."
While the line between hip hop and pop may be more blurred these days, Klymkiw still has a clear list of his hip-hop favourites, and says he was somewhat surprised by the easy access he had to some of the artists he idolized when he was growing up.
The Internet proved to be a great tool for connecting to artists, and Klymkiw used Twitter to get in touch with Abstract Rude.
"He did a collaboration in the '90s with Prevail and Moka Only called Code Name: Scorpion," he explains. "In the underground scene that was kind of a big album back then, and to be able to get him through Twitter was huge."
The Internet has also been a great tool for exposure for Canadian artists getting out their material.
"It's starting to look like the indie rock scene," says Klymkiw, noting many Canadian hip-hop artists are releasing songs online that are getting picked up by DJs around the world, getting remixed and getting played.
"If DJs are playing your stuff then it's getting out to audiences globally," he says.
While he was generally familiar with the work of most of the artists he interviewed, Klymkiw says he was most surprised by singer, producer and writer Chin Injeti, who was one of the original members of the band Bass is Base.
"Some of the stuff he spoke about was amazing," says Klymkiw, who didn't know before the interview that Injeti was working with big names like Dr. Dre, Drake and 50 Cent, and that he won a Grammy in 2010 as part of the team that worked on Eminem's album Recovery.
After leaving radio, Klymkiw worked in lighting and camera ops for the local film industry. He now has his own production company and works mostly on commercials and corporate videos, but he also writes screenplays and recently penned what he describes as a "burlesque horror." Despite the challenges he faced shooting his first documentary-getting interviews, getting good audio, and getting over a bit of nerves interviewing his music idols-Klymkiw says he would consider doing another documentary. He says he now has a better understanding of what it takes to form a story, and this is one he felt needed to be told.
"It's definitely been a journey," he says. "It's been a great, great journey of learning."
Hip Hop Eh screens at the Rio Theatre July 8 at 7: 30 p.m.