“She a Yardie: Translocalism and Jamaican/Canadian Identity in the Music of Michie Mee.”
(Presented at: IASPM-Canada Annual Conference, University of Toronto, May 25-27, 2017)
For many members of black diasporic communities in Canada, music has played a vital role in remembering – and maintaining a sense of connectedness to – one’s cultural heritage while simultaneously providing opportunities to construct and perform hybridized identities.
A case in point is Jamaican-born Michie Mee, a prominent figure in Canadian hip-hop for several reasons. She is a successful female MC in a highly male-dominated performance sphere. Furthermore, she was the first Canadian rapper to gain acknowledgement and support from established hip-hop acts such as Boogie Down Productions. However, what makes Michie Mee especially unique is her articulation of a recognizable hybrid identity that projects both Canadian and Jamaican sensibilities.
Throughout her career, Michie Mee has promoted a Jamaican-Canadian identity within a range of lyrical, visual, and sonic signifiers, thereby affirming what Murray Forman identified as the “highly detailed and consciously defined spatial awareness” that is so central to hip hop culture. By examining select recordings and videos, I analyse the ways in which Michie Mee, like many Canadian hip hop artists, articulates a sense of translocality, performing a particular kind of double consciousness that has set the work of many Canadian hip hop artists apart from their American counterparts historically.