When Mark Campbell was growing up, hip-hop music wasn’t just an artifact of popular culture — it was a way for him to understand his place in the world around him.
“Hip hop was one of the first critical educators in my life,” said the DJ and University of Toronto music and culture professor, in an interview with Day 6. “Hip hop allowed me to better understand how the rest of the world would see me.”
In 1990, Campbell was only 12 years old, but he says he was the same height as his father.
“It was a moment in which the body of a child had disappeared,” he said. “As I got older, as I started to grow more mature, I was drawn toward some of the more critical social commentary about how my large Black body would be seen — even if I was only 10, 11, 12 years old — in the public’s eye.”
While many people in the 1990s were listening to American artists like N.W.A. or Public Enemy, Campbell was listening to Canadian hip hop. And he says it played an essential role in his upbringing.