Art, Arts & Entertainment, Music

Local artists explore the trials and triumphs of Quebec’s hip-hop scene

In the dark depths of winter, the PHI Centre, a creative space known for hosting many of Montreal’s most creative and experimental art installations, is bringing a little light back to the city. Their latest exhibit, entitled Visions Hip-Hop QC, displays the work of Marven Clerveau, ​​a 26-year-old contemporary auditory and visual artist working with Diversité Artistique Montréal (DAM). Curated by music historian and author Vladimir Delva, the exhibit takes visitors through a sensory journey to discover the artists who have shaped the Quebec hip-hop scene through innovative producing and genre-expanding sounds. 

The exhibit pairs multimedia art to each musician’s works, complementing the full scope and range of their music. Clerveau’s talent as a multidisciplinary artist shines—but the true stars of the show are his new series of portraits that aim to capture a person’s essence and are imbued with personality in favour of realism. Exaggerated expressions and distorted facial features tell the story of these artists’ works visually. Colour-changing lights accompany the portraits, and auditory guides softly usher the viewer from room to room throughout the PHI Centre, making a particularly stunning sight at night. 

The exhibit occurs alongside a four-part discussion series that kicked off on Feb. 17, featuring rappers, producers, artists, and managers discussing their contributions to Quebec’s hip-hop scene. Starting off the series was a panel entitled Women in Hip-Hop, hosted and moderated by Keithy Antoine, a self-described socially engaged entrepreneur, visual artist, animator, and the founder and co-owner of Espace Urbain Montreal. Hua Li, Tammy Tuesdayz, and Sabrina Jean (AKA Skandal) completing the panel. In the first hour of the panel, each artist discussed their musical influences and career trajectories. The panellists spoke about finding inclusion in their communities and a sense of identity in Canada through hip-hop music, and shared stories about connecting to their communities or family members through music. 

On the topic of women in hip-hop, the panellists explored the ways in which they have seen their “femininity” act as an aid or hindrance to their careers. All three advocated for the creation of a safer and more inclusive space for women in the hip-hop industry, with Tammy Tuesdayz adding that she works to “break open doors” for younger women in the industry. They spoke at length about bringing other female artists with them on tour and balancing education and the pursuit of a musical career, concluding by sharing advice to young aspiring musicians in the audience. 

An Exhibition by Marven Clerveau: Visions Hip-Hop QC will be running for free at the PHI centre until Mar. 26, and the Visions Hip-Hop QC: Discussion Series will continue every Wednesday from 7–9 p.m. until Mar. 24. with topics ranging from Entrepreneurial Development in Hip-Hop to Longevity in the Genre.

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