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"Fanshawe students bring hip-hop to New Music Night"

OkayCity will be hitting the stage during New Music Night at The Out Back Shack on Friday, September 28.

Once again, the collaborative artists who make up OkayCity will be bringing your favourites from their solo discs, as well as brand new material from their album set to release in January of 2008. Over the past two years, these two artists have made their transition to London a booming success bringing with them a vibe that has spread across the city.

With their debut singles taking over the Fanshawe Radio station, 106.9 “The X FM,” Ray Black’s Days Go By from his first album Cruise Control and Bill (Will) Maka’s hit “Never Stop Speakin’ It” off his record Whatever Happens, Happens both deliver a new spin on hip-hop.

Performing at London venues including Fanshawe’s Out Back Shack, Norma Jeans, Salt Lounge and The Embassy, Maka and Black have put their own personalized spin on this genre of music. With musical influences ranging from J Dilla, A Tribe Called Quest and Shad to Swollen Members and Underground West Coast, they continue to “let the music speak for itself” as they move out of the Forest City and into the music world.

“Everyone’s a ‘rapper’ today, not enough people are making good hip-hop music. It seems everyone’s hooked on this material trendy stuff they hear on the radio, so [I figured] I might as well do something different that's still catchy and people can vibe to,” said Black.

Originally from Oakville, Black started writing in ninth grade, as he began to put his love for music down on paper. Since then, this self-proclaimed lyrical artist believes in creating music with significance and meaning.

“I like to make people think about what I’m saying and actually have substance in my songs. If listeners don’t hear what I’m trying to say or they don’t get the message then I’m not doing my job,” said Black.

Kitchener born Bill ‘Will’ Maka, also known as Mad Mak, was influenced by a heavy hip-hop culture and over the past five years has taken on his own promotion, as well as those “who worthy of representing the true hip-hop essence,” he explained.

New Music Night and Open Mic Night during the 2006 school year offered both artists a chance to show off their talent and they soon recognized their mutual love, energy and gift for music.

“We usually rocked all the hip-hop shows at the end of the school year, but always had different sets. Once we both found out we got into The Music Industry Arts Program [at Fanshawe] we decided that when we hit the stage, we might as well go up together and feed off each other,” Maka said.

“We clicked on stage, started writing songs together, and the rest is history,” added Black.

Future plans for ‘OkayCity’ (originating this past year, incorporating their hometowns with their current residence here in the Forest City) are in the making. With their highly anticipated album in the works, much time will be spent in the studio over the next few months but they hope to set out on a Ontario tour and out to the West Coast in the New Year in order to promote their new album.

“This is our passion and we love to bring energy to the music and our performances. Wherever the music takes us...let it speak for itself. We have fun making hip-hop and performing is a blast, so hopefully the right person sees that,” said Black.
Maka and Black, will make their first appearance and kick-off the new 2007 school year with their first show on Friday, September 28 here at Fanshawe. Doors open at The Out Back Shack at 9 p.m. for this all ages event with headliner Shad set to perform with hits from his newest album being released in a few weeks.

“It's our first show back in London since the school year started so get there early. We’ll have some new material so come out and jump around with us,” said Black.

For more info on Black, Maka a.k.a. ‘Mad Mak’ or OkayCity, you can visit their individual Myspace pages at www.myspace.com/rayblackhiphop and www.myspace.com/madmakmusic. - Allison Selway The Interrobang

"The return of OkayCity"

Music Industry Arts graduates Will Maka and Ray Black who make up the hip-hop duo OkayCity came back to London last Thursday for a performance at Fanshawe College; the place where they first met and began collaborating.

Although they took Fanshawe and London by storm, getting their singles on 106.9 fm, and doing shows at the Out Back Shack, they ended up having to collaborate long-distance once they left college and found jobs on different continents.

In fact, their show on campus last week was their first live show together in several months, and is the start of a new chapter. After this show they plan on both moving to Vancouver to get more serious about their art, and “bring their hustle out to the west coast” where they say artists are extremely talented but more laid-back, and lack the drive that eastern hip-hop artists like themselves demonstrate. Although they are quick to point out that there is a lot of fake and soulless hip-hop artists out there with no heart like G-Unit and Lil’ Wayne, who just regurgitate poor lyrical content and lack originality, OkayCity maintains that real hip-hop is coming back in a big way, and that it’s getting a lot easier for good hip-hop to get out there with digital technology and the internet.

They also predict that real hip-hop will return to its roots while “top 40-style pop rap is just going to develop into it’s own genre of music and become known as something completely separate from hip-hop.”

OkayCity is still an independent unsigned hip-hop group, and has no real plans for signing or starting a label of their own in the near future.

“What we’re doing right now is working” said Black, referring to the fact that you don’t need a label to get your music out there or book shows.

Maka also maintains that they aren’t in it for the money, but for the love of hip-hop, and that “as long as I’m doing what makes me happy, I don’t care if I’m making money.” You can check them out at myspace.com/okaycityhiphop - Darius Mirshahi The Interrobang

"Local Hip Hop Artists Help Tsunami Effort"

When Will Makrigaini decided he wanted to do something to help those affected by the tsunami, one thing came to mind as the obvious choice, to put together a hip hop show.

So that’s what he did.

Makrigaini, better known as MadMak when he’s on stage, started by contacting other local hip hop artists about putting together a show and there were many eager to help out.

Matt Medirous, Brandon Frank, Que-Da-Beat, Eyeris and Titus, who is frequently played on 91.5 The Beat, all signed up to be part of the benefit show.

The show went off without a hitch on Feb. 11 at the Doon Pioneer Park Community Centre as many family and friends of the artists came out to show their support.

Although the turnout wasn’t as large as he was hoping, Makrigaini was still happy that they were able to raise $300 to donate.

“It may not be a lot but it’s better than nothing and it will help someone in need.” - Kate Battler


Ray Black(solo album) - Cruise Control.
Bill Maka(solo album) - Whatever Happens, Happens.
OKAY CITY - The Sampler.



Hailing out of Vancouver, British Colombia by way of London, Ontario the hip-hop duo Okay City is the always hard-working, always entertaining collaborative effort of Ray Black and Bill Maka. Armed with an unquestionably good sense of music and a hip-hop swagger all their own, the two young emcees have been steadily building a name for themselves writing and performing across southwestern Ontario since mid-2006. Sharing a similar vision, Bill Maka, 23, and Ray Black, 22, bring to their audience two distinct styles. This blend of Maka's explosive and edgy delivery and Black's laid-back smooth flow, along with their eclectic soundscapes, are what make Okay City unique and places them among the brightest of the new generation of Canadian music acts.

Bill Maka, born William Makrigaini, was raised in Kitchener, Ontario on a musical diet of rock spanning from the early days of rock n' roll to the classic rock of the 1980s. It wasn't until his late teens that Bill discovered his talent as a rapper. Through his skill, performances, tireless efforts and self-promotion Bill quickly garnered local success and notoriety as Kitchener's premier rap act.

Ray Black, born Raymond Anthony Black, similarly came of age in one of Ontario's small townships. Growing up listening to his parent's jazz, reggae and Motown records in Oakville, Ontario Black developed a desire to write lyrics at an early age. Like many in his generation, hip-hop had left an indelible mark on his life and Black soon began writing rhymes. After honing his skill and deciding on a career in music, Ray left Oakville for London, Ontario, where he would cross paths with his future rhyming partner.

The fall of 2005 found both emcees independently releasing solo debuts while also pursuing a seat in the nationally renowned Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College. After hearing each other's music Maka and Black quickly developed a bond and found common ground not in rap-style but in a desire to entertain and a love for the live show. Shortly thereafter the two began performing together and within a year Okay City was born.

Fast forward to the present and we'll find Okay City residing in Vancouver, BC. Now well known for their high-energy crowd-moving live shows, Okay City is steadily building their name on Canada's west coast performing material from their 2009 EP, appropriately titled, Sampler. The full length as of yet untitled LP, currently being recorded, will contain production from an array of young Canadian musicians, beat makers and DJs. Matching true school lyricism with their mainstream sensibility hip-hop's odd couple is poised to deliver a classic album. Keep your ears open in the fourth quarter of 2009.