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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 and the first ever to break through to mainstream success, he has been credited as the "Godfather of Canadian hip hop".
|Birth name||Wesley Williams|
|Also known as||Maestro Fresh-Wes|
|Born||March 31, 1968|
|Origin||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Occupation(s)||Emcee, rapper, producer, actor, author, motivational speaker,|
|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|
Early life and educationEdit
Williams was born in Toronto, Ontario to parents of Afro-Guyanese heritage. He was raised primarily in the North York area of the city, then the borough of Scarborough, like many other notable Canadian stars, such as Mike Myers and The Barenaked Ladies to name a few. He attended Senator O'Connor Collegiate then L'Amoreaux Collegiate Institute for the rest of his secondary schooling. He began rapping at age 15, under the moniker, Melody MC and then around this time meets local budding promoter and then manager, Farley Flex and the two soon then began recording demos. In 1988 he officially adapted Maestro Fresh Wes and recorded the independent demos, "You Can't Stop Us Now" and "I'm Showin' You". He studied law and political science at Ottawa's Carleton University in the mid to late-1980s for a brief period of time, before focusing on his music full time after the release of, "Let Your Backbone Slide" in 1989.
In 1989 Maestro released his first album, Symphony in Effect. The following 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", Dionne, Thando Hyman, Carla Marshall, Messenjah, Jillian Mendez, Lorraine Scott, Lorraine Segato, Self Defense, Leroy Sibbles, Zama and Thyron Lee White.
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. In 1992, Maestro Fresh-Wes appeared in a video accompanying a rendition of "O Canada" in which he rapped an improvised second-verse lyric "aw, yeah, from the east coast, of Newfoundland, to the west coast, of B.C." 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. 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.
His 2017 album Coach Fresh included the song "Jurassic Park", a collaboration with Rich Kidd to celebrate the Toronto Raptors. In 2019, the song was released as a single and video to celebrate the Raptors making the 2019 NBA Finals.
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.
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.
- Symphony in Effect (1989)
- The Black Tie Affair (1991)
- Maestro Zone (1992)
- Naaah, Dis Kid Can't Be from Canada?!! (1994)
- Built to Last (1998)
- Ever Since (2000)
- Orchestrated Noise (2013)
- Coach Fresh (2017)
- Champagne Campaign (2019)
- Black Tuxedo EP (2012)
- Compositions Volume 1 (2015)
- Urban Landmark 1989–2005 (2005)
- "Maestro Fresh Wes Gets Classified, the Trews, Rich Kidd for 'Black Tuxedo' EP, Reveals New Album Plans". Exclaim!, September 17, 2012.
- "Maestro Fresh Wes in the House: Wes Williams Helps Carleton Launch 75th Celebrations". Carleton.ca. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
- "25 best Canadian debut albums ever". CBC Music,June 16, 2017.
- "Rap: Pop music genre, introduced in the mid-1970s in New York". Historic Canada.
- "Urban Music" The Canadian Encyclopedia.
- "Maestro Fresh Wes and Rich Kidd Celebrate the Raptors with "Jurassic Park" Video". Exclaim!, June 7, 2019.