What Do You Know About Uniacke Square Posse and Halifax Hip-Hop Circa 1988?
Built in 1966, Uniacke Square is a north central public housing project in Halifax, NS. Originally constructed to deal with a displaced African Canadian population who were pushed from the historic community of Africville during an urban renewal effort in the1960s, Uniacke Square became one of the post-relocation neighbourhoods that fell victim to unkept government promises of employment and education programs. While the Halifax Department of Development claimed their relocation efforts in the 1960s were to offer the residents who lived under the slum conditions of Africville a “better living”, the poverty and unemployment of an evicted populous and abandoned social programs gave areas like Uniacke Square an unfortunate reputation of crime, violence and civic neglect.
All these years later, Uniacke Square continues to hang around headlines in 2017 with the province’s controversial plans for an 8 camera CCTV surveillance system in the neighbourhood following a fatal shooting last year.
“This is a disadvantaged community, historically. People walk around feeling that even outside of the community that they’re going to experience discrimination and racism, which does happen,” North End Parent Resource Centre program manager Vicki Samuels-Stewart told CBC after the shooting last year. “There’s no job opportunities, there’s nothing to keep them occupied besides the streets. It’s like they are beat before they start.”
Like many other disenfranchised settings, the subjects of crime and violence have historically been the focal point of media coverage of Uniacke Square. But beneath the negative light is a heap of important cultural contribution that has come exclusively from the people of these marginalized neighbourhoods. While the positive output of the residents can find a way to flourish regardless of what their situations have stacked against them, many of their contributions are seldom celebrated on the level in which they deserve.
Since the launch of our efforts at Secret East, one of the major topics of interest and importance to us has been the rich history of hip-hop in Halifax, and its gleaming contribution as one of the earliest national hubs to the genre.
In 2016 we jumped into Mod’rn World Thang, Haltown Projex and DJ Jorun Bombay’s irreplaceable guidance to Halifax hip-hop in the early 1990s. But prior to the success and popularization of the music by the aforementioned artists, as well as the MuchMusic-friendly duo MCJ & Cool G, there was some raw underground rumblings of Halifax rap pioneers in the 1980s that have largely faded into obscurity with little information available.
One of the earliest and most interesting slices of Halifax hip-hop history that has made it to the internet is an untitled video snippet of the Uniacke Square Posse in 1988.
Dressed in white, rockin’ Jheri curls and moustaches, the Uniacke Square duo drop golden age cypher-style rhymes and beat boxes accompanied with clips of their namesake neighbourhood in the late 1980s.
Since we first stumbled across the video a few years ago, we’ve done our best to try and track down the individuals who comprised the Uniacke Square Posse. Though we feel we’ve come close, we’ve yet to make contact.
So that leads to our question at hand: what do you know about Uniacke Square Posse?
We feel like a proper interview with the U.S.P would be of utmost importance to capturing an essence of the music and culture in those undocumented years that preceded the publicized movement in Halifax hip-hop. It would be a shame for these folks to not have their stories told or get their due for their contribution to the culture.
If you’ve got any information that could lend itself to our cause, we’d love for you to get in touch.
“Everyone out there who wants to battle, I’ll shake you up like a baby with a rattle.”