Some of Canada’s main exports include cars, gold, wheat, and oil. But at the beginning of 2022, Toronto’s Ryerson University (which has been temporarily changed to “X”) will hold a class on two other popular exports from The Great White North: Toronto artists Drake and The Weeknd. Author and publicist Dalton Higgins is a professor-in-residence at the university’s Creative School, and he will be teaching a course called “Deconstructing Drake and The Weeknd.”
Higgins posted the news on his IG, and he asked how come Canadian students don’t have similar opportunities to learn about musicians from their homeland like their counterparts in the States. “On the U.S. college and university scene there are all kinds of courses being taught about rock, folk, pop artists, like Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen,” he wrote, “so why shouldn’t there be a course about Drake and The Weeknd right here in Toronto?”
He wrote further about the contributions of the country’s performers to urban culture as well as the benefit of studying those artists. “I also think it’s an opportune time to get Canadian rap and R&B icons recognized and canonized academically,” Higgins continued, “and that it’s a great time for music scholars and historians to examine the Toronto music scene that birthed Drake and The Weeknd and that helped create the conditions for them to become mega successful.”
Drake released his sixth studio album, Certified Lover Boy, on September 3 and outsold Kanye West’s Donda nearly twofold to land at No. 1 on Rolling Stone’s albums chart. CLB still sits in its second week. And The Weeknd also had a stellar 2020, with his double-platinum album After Hours and a highly touted halftime performance at Super Bowl LV.
“When you have two Black artists born and bred in Toronto who perform rap, R&B, and pop, and who are arguably well on their way to becoming billionaires at some point in time, there is apparently a lot to learn,” says Higgins. “Remember, they both blew up despite being products of a local Canadian music scene that does very little to foster the growth of its Black music practitioners.”