Maestro (rapper)

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Maestro
Birth name Wesley Williams
Also known as Maestro Fresh-Wes
Born (1968-03-31) March 31, 1968 (age 49)
Origin Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Occupation(s) Emcee, rapper, producer, actor, author, motivational speaker,
Years active 1987–Present
Labels Attic, LMR, Fontana North
Associated acts Kardinal Offishall, Percee P, Rich London, Michie Mee, Classified, Choclair, Dream Warriors, The Dope Poet Society, Shad K, Kool G Rap, Sadat X, Ghettosocks, D-Sisive, Adam Bomb, D.O. Gibson

Wesley Williams (born March 31, 1968), better known as Maestro or Maestro Fresh-Wes, is a Canadian rapper, record producer, and actor. One of the early Canadian rappers, he has been labeled by Exclaim! magazine as the "Godfather of Canadian hip hop".[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Williams was born in Toronto, Ontario. He studied law and political science at Ottawa's Carleton University in the mid-1980s. [2]

Career[edit]

In 1989 Maestro released his first album, Symphony in Effect.[3] That year he became the first Canadian rapper to have a Top 40 hit, "Let Your Backbone Slide". In 1991 he collaborated on the one-off single "Can't Repress the Cause", a plea for greater inclusion of hip hop music in the Canadian music scene, with Dance Appeal, a supergroup of Toronto-area musicians that included Devon, Dream Warriors, B-Kool, Michie Mee, Lillian Allen, Eria Fachin, HDV aka 'Pimp of The Microphone'[4], Dionne, Thando Hyman, Carla Marshall, Messenjah, Jillian Mendez, Lorraine Scott, Lorraine Segato, Self Defense, Leroy Sibbles, Zama and Thyron Lee White.[5]

After the success of his 1991 album, The Black Tie Affair, Maestro's career faltered as he attempted to break into the United States market. However, he returned to the Canadian charts in 1998, with the hit singles "Stick to Your Vision" and "416/905 (T.O. Party Anthem)".

In 2000, "Ever Since" featured the track "Bustin Loose", in which Maestro Fresh Wes teamed up with Kardinal Offishall.

In 2005, Maestro covered Lawrence Gowan's song "A Criminal Mind" (featuring Infinite); Gowan appears in the video and his vocals are sampled on the track. Gowan also performed the song with Maestro at the Canadian Urban Music Awards in 2006.

In 2006 Maestro and Rochester AKA Juice joined Professor D and The Dope Poet Society on stage in Cannes, France. Together, they become the first Canadian hip hop acts to showcase at Midem, the world's largest annual music industry conference.

In 2012, Maestro released his first set of new material in more than seven years with the release of an EP entitled Black Tuxedo.[1] This was followed by an album, Orchestrated Noise in 2013, which features rocker Sam Roberts, opera singer Measha Brueggergosman, Kardinal Offishall, American rap legend Kool G Rap of the Juice Crew, and Brand Nubian veteran Sadat X, among others. Orchestrated Noise was released under the name Maestro Fresh Wes, reclaiming his original title from the 1980s.

Acting[edit]

He has had acting roles in the series Metropia, Instant Star, Platinum, Blue Murder, and The Line, as well as the films Poor Boy's Game, Get Rich or Die Tryin', Honey, and Four Brothers. As an actor, he is normally credited as Wes Williams.

Currently, he plays the role of Paul Dwyer on the CBC Television program Mr. D.

Radio[edit]

In 2003, Deejay Ra launched a series of radio PSA's to launch the first Canadian 'Hip-Hop Appreciation Week' with the support of the National Film Board of Canada, aimed at stronger industry recognition of Canadian hip hop pioneers Wes 'Maestro' Williams and Michelle 'Michie Mee' McCullock.

Scholarly engagement[edit]

Professor Rinaldo Walcott, a scholar at OISE/University of Toronto dealing with themes related to Black Canadian experiences and expressions, has written about Maestro Fresh Wes' lyrics, as well as his move from Canada to New York, in his book Black Like Who?.[6]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums

EPs

  • Black Tuxedo EP (2012)
  • Compositions Volume 1 (2015)

Compilations

  • Urban Landmark 1989–2005 (2005)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]