Govfest 2018

Last updated on January 24th, 2021 at 11:56 am

I think it’s possible to have fun with just about anything we do.

Govfest—Because We Do More Than Just Sit Behind Our Desks.

There to Care—A Spotlight on Father Figures by Dove Men+Care—Paul Burns

Back in 2009, after jumping from the Ontario Public Service’s internship program to a contract opportunity that didn’t end so well, I started working for someone who wound up profoundly changing my life.

A Night Thirteen Years in the Making

If you’ve never met Paul Burns, I promise that you’re missing out.

As a guy I’ve worked for three times now, I can tell you some stories about this guy. Like how the question right after my introduction at our first team meeting was what instrument I played. Or that even as a white guy from the depth of Winnipeg, Manitoba, he’d routinely have some of the most diverse teams known to the organisation. He’s a special kind of guy, and it’s that kind of guy who you need to run something like Govfest—the annual battle of the bands in support of the United Way and Ryan’s Well, running more than a dozen years now!

The Abridged Story of the Band Called the Calamities…

There was once a band called The Calamities, with whom I sang a bunch of songs. We actually took Govfest’s People’s Choice Award home a few years running, because with twelve or thirteen bandmates with friends who wanted to see them, how could you not?

But after life came along and changed things up for the lot of us, we all went our separate ways, and I thought that’d be that.

Yeah… Govfest had other plans.

As the show got bigger and bigger each year, they wanted a flashier finale that’d keep the audience living in the moment.

And that, friends, is how I became the annual MC for the Govfest finale.

The 2017 100

Last updated on April 1st, 2021 at 01:08 am

Unless my life sees some major changes this year, 2017 may mark the last list of 100!

It’s January 13th—I’ve spent nearly two weeks of my new year agonising over 100 items that matter enough to hit a list of goals and aspirations for the year ahead. And that’s a key difference from the lists that came before it.

Before it was a task list—I’d look around at everything that needed doing and jot it down, because my life would obviously be better with them out of the way.

But task lists aren’t inspiring. They’re not motivational. As a creative, that’s like dropping a pile of 100 things I dread on my lap and nagging myself to get ’em done by the year’s end.

Once I realised what I was doing to myself, so much so that I just went through my least successful year yet for my list, I knew I needed to make a change for 2017.

The 2017 100—It's Not WHAT You Do, It's How You DO It.—New Year, New Perspective

I’m particularly proud of the list I’ve put together for The 2017 100. I didn’t take any shortcuts—I wrote out 100 things that’d help me live the life I’d like to lead and prove instrumental along the path there. Rather than hurriedly scrawl out a list I’d likely ignore ’til December, I wrote one that I’d happily check off, knowing that each accomplishment would take me a step closer to a far better 2018. I feel like I’m finally getting it right this time, and I hope that shines through as you give it a look for yourself!

But that’s enough of my chatter—I’ve already made you wait long enough. Here for your consideration is The 2017 100—because it’s not what you do… it’s how you do it!

Junia-T | Eye See You Review

Last updated on April 3rd, 2021 at 07:56 pm

“A brova too smoove
Old soul living in this new school…”
— Junia-T, “Too Smoove”, Eye See You (2014)

Except for a notable few like Kardinal Offishall, Maestro Fresh Wes, and of course, Drake, Toronto’s hip-hop scene has been trouble for a while. Despite its share of local hits getting heavy club rotation in the 90s and early-naughts (who can forget how deep we lived the riddim culture for a while?), it’s been steady underground for all these years.

You can tell a Toronto beat from a mile away—slightly unpolished, simple, sound like it’s a throwback from decades ago… we’re unable to keep up with the times, breeding a crop of rappers who just can’t make the grade.

Fortunately, that’s not true for everyone.

Junia-T | The We & We Free

Last updated on April 3rd, 2021 at 07:46 pm

In a time before blogging was my extracurricular activity of choice, I used to draw like a fiend. On break at work. Zipping around on buses between home, school and work. I’d fall asleep with pens and markers in hand as I tried to draw just a little more (my Mom has the ink-stained sheets to prove it!)

It was in one of these scribbling sessions where I first crossed paths with Junia-T.

The We & We Free—Junia-T—Street Shot

Hailing from Sauga’s southwest, Junia’s been in the rap game since before most people knew what Internet radio was. Back in 2003, after we met and exchanged info while riding the city’s notoriously unreliable Mississauga Transit #26, you’d find me with Junia and his 3-5 Playa crew in their basement sessions while sketching out the cover work for Up to Par… Da Mixtape.

Over a decade later, and the Sauga City cat’s still at it, as one of the artists performing at the free upcoming The We & We Free concert on Friday, May 9th at the Izakaya Sushi House!

My 10 Most Played Songs and What They Say About Me

Last updated on October 21st, 2020 at 06:49 pm


This isn’t 1998 where I used to play DMX’s It’s Dark and Hell is Hot on low volume so my parents wouldn’t hear all the cussing—I’ve been consuming hip-hop for a very long time, and if you’re easily offended, I’ve refrain from playing the YouTube videos in this post.

But now that that’s out of the way, please enjoy!

One thing you’ll rarely see me without is my iPod (well, except that one time I forgot to pack it if or a week-long stay in Vegas). I grew up with music as a core part of my life with my Dad loving his soul and reggae, and investing in solid stereo systems to listen to it all. I dabbled in piano, viola and choir, and tried my hand at rap for a good while.

Music keeps me going. Music keeps me sane. And I find that the more we explore our musical tastes, the more patterns emerge, and the more our collections speak to who we are. Our tastes will always evolve, but there will always be foundational cues that draw us to one song over another.

In today’s post, I wanted to give you a little insight into what music has stuck with me the most, and maybe give some points where we can relate to each other.

I hope you enjoy it!

#10—Justin Timberlake—Don’t Hold the Wall (395 plays)

The 20/20 Experience is to Futuresex/Lovesounds what The Dark Knight Rises is to The Dark Knight—it’s good, but it’s lacking. There was a whole heap of expectation leading up to it, and when it came out there was a collective “eh” that could be heard the world ’round.

But it can grow on you, and that’s precisely what “Don’t Hold the Wall” did to me.

While not strictly a party song, Justin still manages to make a song about getting your ass on the dance floor sexy and club-worthy, with its popping percussion and thumping bass.

It’s a perfect blend between Timbaland wanting to make you shake what your mama gave you and JT wanting to get you to take off whatever’s covering it.

#9—田中公平 / 浜口史郎 — 3つの塔 [Kohei Tanaka—”Tower of Three” from the Original Soundtrack for One Piece Movie 3] (407 plays)

If you expected to see this list without one anime-related entry, you don’t know Case.

One Piece is hands down one of the best manga that Japan has ever offered (it might be the best-selling manga it’s ever had, but sources differ between One Piece and Dragon Ball as the one that reigns supreme). Over 700 issues and 600 22-minutes episodes deep, it’s the story of teenage pirate Luffy D. Monkey and the crew he assembles in his quest to become the Pirate King. They undergo a ton of adventures and challenges to work their way there, and the series is still ongoing—they’ve a ways to go yet!

Why should you care about One Piece?

The Japanese have excelled at storytelling for centuries. Where we water down messages and themes for our younger audiences, the Japanese are all about story purity, doing everything possible to deliver the best story that they can—otherwise, in a highly competitive manga industry, they’re simply not going to sell!

One Piece is one of those stories that actually gets you to care about the characters. Unexpected deaths, epic battles, difficult choices, sociopolitical issues and emotional turmoil—Eiichiro Oda spares no expense at making sure you know that no one is invincible, and if they want to succeed, they’d better be willing to work their ass off to do it!

Think of it like Game of Thrones, though Oda isn’t nearly as much of a jerk as George R. R. Martin. I haven’t wanted to hurt Oda yet! (Martin, I’ll find out where you live. Red Wedding my ass.)

The anime was only made better by getting Kohei Tanaka to compose its music—the track you hear above is the music used to recap events at the beginning of each episode and get you pumped for what’s ahead. Check One Piece out. It’s worth the investment!

#8—Kendrick Lamar—Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe (419 plays)

Whenever I’m feeling worn out, this is a song that can get me moving again. Track 2 on Kendrick’s 2012 good kid, m.A.A.d. city release, this song is a hand to the face to anyone trying to bring down what Kendrick’s trying to accomplish. I said it before it came out, I said it when it came out and I’m saying it now — gkmc was one of the best albums that 2012 had to offer, and if you haven’t given it a listen, do so immediately. You’ll hear the expertly woven tale of how Kendrick got to where he is now, and when you respect that, you respect why this song is wholly appropriate.

#7—J. Cole—Power Trip (featuring Miguel) (421 plays)

I remember when this just got  released and I instantly fell in love with the smoothness of the song for a while.

“Got me open all night / All I’m singing is love songs.”

Some songs are simply hypnotic to me, and while this would eventually be released on a sub-par album (which ended up being okay—J. Cole decided to release Born Sinner the same day that Kanye West did Yeezus, an album that just confused the hell out of everybody), I think it’ll still get some play in the Palmer household in the near future.

#6—Rich Kidd—Beautiful Day (429 plays)


The Toronto music scene is horribly underrated. Kardinal Offishall’s been in the rap game for years and didn’t get international acclaim ’til he jumped the border to work for Akon; Drake lost the wheelchair-bound persona and fled south of the border long ago to become Drizzy and somehow convince the world that he’s a badass—but there’s so much talent that’s still here.

Back in the early 2000s, I used to draw. A lot. The stuff I was working on caught a rapper’s eye—Junia-T—who was then working in a collective of 8 called 3-5 Playa in a basement over on Ridgeway Drive in Mississauga’s west end. (I even did some cover art for one of their mixtapes once upon a time!)

Years would pass and one of the producers Junia would work with was Rich Kidd, hailing from the same part of town. The man has a ridiculously prodigious body of work, but one of my favourites is his more recent “Beautiful Day”, where he’s down in California recording, but thinking on his days growing up in Mississauga—my hometown.

Every city has its ode that honours it—this one’s one of the closest that Mississauga’s ever gotten.

#5—Chris Brown—Fine China (454 plays)

I’ll admit—I got Chris Browned on this one. To quote myself:

Chris Browned (phrase)—to hear a song on the radio and enjoy it, only to discover that it’s by Chris Brown.

Also see: Love the music, hate the artist; Bobby Brown; R. Kelly

I heard this for the first time when playing a game of Race for the Galaxy with Sarah in our den and loved how it flowed. My eyes bugged out when I looked at the Shazam result, but it was too late—the damage had already been done.

I’d been Chris Browned.

And on a side note—how does a dude who used to krump have such a stiff-ass fight scene???

#4—Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep: Fate of the Unknown (as performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra) (479 plays)

I grew up in a Mississaugan home with two working parents in the 80s and 90s, so video games and TV played a huge role in my upbringing—it recently shocked me when a friend and I were recalling stage music from Mega Man I—V from memory. So when I saw that the London Philharmonic Orchestra had performed a series of video game tunes, I was on it.

While much of it was from an era past my gamer days, one caught my attention—what turned out to be the background music for the final hidden scene in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep!

One day, I’d love to make an animated film, and if I ever do, this is what the music for one of the battle scene will sound like!


#3—Kendrick Lamar—Poe Man Dreams (His Vice) (featuring GLC) (532 plays)

Before good kid, m.A.A.d. city, Kendrick Lamar made another attempt to tell the tale of life in Compton with Section.80.

A solid album in its own right, Section.80 covers topics on everything from living a life of crime, the dangers of prostitution, the ills of promiscuity and its effects on relationships—there’s so much it covers, but doesn’t have the narrative packaging you find in gkmc.

But it’s still a great album.

“Poe Mans Dreams” may be the most positive song on the album, with an ethereal beat that puts the listener in the right frame of mind to understand the dreams Kendrick outlines from the vantage point of poverty. All anyone in that situation wants is the ability to “smoke good, eat good, live good”, and while Kendrick realizes that most of his people can’t do so now, he does what he does so that they eventually can.

After removing the song’s layers, it’s inspiring to see the degree of one man’s hustle to make it.

#2—Jamiroquai—World That He Wants (733 plays)

I’ve loved Jamiroquai’s work ever since I stumbled across the “Virtual Insanity” video in 1997. But the Jamiroquai I knew was the dance party Jamiroquai with jams like “Love Foolosophy”, “Canned Heat” and “Alright”—when I heard “World That He Wants” for the first time, it completely caught me off-guard. Why did it sound so tortured? Is it some introspective look at humanity? Are we saying that God’s abandoned us? And why is the music only coming out of my left speaker???

“World That He Wants” is hauntingly beautiful, and gives you a completely different idea of what the band is capable of. It took them 13 years to get to this point, but the song is worth every second.

#1—Kendrick Lamar—Money Trees (featuring Jay Rock) (769 plays)

I was caught in Jamiroquai’s throes for a while, but it wouldn’t last. The 10 most-played songs in my iTunes library are undoubtedly Kendrick Lamar-heavy, but before I bought gkmc, before I even knew the story behind the album, there was one beat that burrowed its way deep into my audio cortex and wouldn’t leave. I’d only heard a 90-second snippet, but it was looping in my head and wasn’t going anywhere until I’d heard it in full on the album.

That song is “Money Trees”.

What makes Kendrick so unique is that he isn’t running around talking about all the things he’s got or glorifying life in the hood. He’s a conscious rapper, analyzing everything that he’s been exposed to in his environment and portraying it in a way that draws the casual listener into his world. But unlike the conscious rappers of yesteryear who preached messages but couldn’t package them for mass consumption, Kendrick’s managed to combine amazing beats, killer flow and complex lyrics into a body of work that lets anyone realize that hip-hop is far from dead.

Kendrick is very likely the man holding the torch that lights the way for the future of hip-hop. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

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So there you have it. My top 10 most played songs in my iTunes library and why they beat 10,000+ other songs to get there.

But enough about me—what are your top 10 songs? How many times have you played them? What do they say about you? Are there any on there that you wish didn’t make the cut?

Looking forward to seeing what makes you tick!


–case p.