Hit it Maestro!

Toronto's own Maestro Fresh Wes is practically a household name. Who doesn't know the classic hit "Let Your Backbone Slide?" To this day, that song is still the largest selling Canadian hip-hop track and ranks the top 15 of the best Canadian songs ever released.

And just like the fact that Canada's pioneering rapper hardly goes by "Fresh Wes" anymore, Williams has evolved from being just a talented MC into a talented actor with two successful Canadian television series (Metropia and Instant Star) on the go. And at this stage in his hip-hop career Wes "Maestro" Williams is not only still conducting things, he's still doing so on his own terms.

Simply put, Williams is the godfather of Canadian hip-hop and to celebrate and document his accomplishments, he's just released the appropriately titled "Urban Landmark-1989-2005" which hit stores this week. The greatest hits album (featuring hits such as "Conducting Thangs" and "Let Your Backbone Slide," classic B-sides and five new tracks) is being touted as his final album, with the first single (a hip-hop mix of Gowan's 1985 hit "Criminal Mind") already in rotation on MuchMusic. I recently got a chance to speak with Maestro to find out what he's been up to.

Do you ever stop and think about all that you've accomplished?
Only on this album, because it's a retrospective album. But I think it could be a crutch for me if I lie on my laurels and think about stuff that I've done before. Y'know? If I have that mentality it's a stagnant mentality. I think that this is why this is a good project to release, a retrospective, because it's been 20 years.

What do you think about the state of the Canadian music industry?
I'm proud of these cats. I'm a big fan of k-os, big fan of Kardinal. I feel good that I can buy Canadian (hip-hop) records. That's a dope thing.

Do you think that a Canadian hip-hop artist today could make the same impact that you did back in the day?
Two totally different eras. Right now there are artists that are way more talented than me but it's a different time. When I was around the Internet wasn't even out yet. In terms of sales and in terms of impact, I don't know if it's gonna happen. I think that there's a lot more talent out there and that's the main thing. Also, America's finally coming around and acknowledging certain things. Ain't nobody sold more records than me, and it's been a decade and a half. And that's something that should be documented. If I was an American artist it would be. I got to it for myself and I feel that people should know that it's a part of our history.

What's next for Maestro?
I'm not really stressing music like that as an artist. In other words, it's not my main focus. I'll always make music and be involved in music in some capacity but I'm more looking at assisting the industry right now and being an asset that way. I'm looking to grow as a multimedia artist.

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