The Polaris Prize broke the shortlist of nominees in the running for 2019’s honours, and while jury is no stranger to championing the dynamic range of artists coming out of Canada, this year’s collection seems to focus on two artistic corners that have long since been too absent from the larger Canadian music discourse: specifically francophone music and hip hop.
Half of the list’s ten nominees are representing the province of Quebec, whether it be through the electronic experiments of Marie Davidson and FET.NAT or the likes of Elisapie, Les Louanges, and Dominique Fils-Aimé and their vocal-driven approaches to musical mish-mash. Capturing Canada’s hip hop scene are First Nations rap group Snotty Nose Rez Kids and this year’s Trapline album, 13th Floor, the solo debut from Toronto rap collective The Sorority’s Haviah Mighty, and Shad’s heady slab of concept-rap, A Short Story About A War.
Rounded out by breakout releases from Jessie Reyez and PUP, this year’s collection of shortlisted albums offers a crash course in the multiple scenes, subcultures, and trends defining Canadian music today. And while we’d of course advise enrolling in this crash course by listening through all of the nominated albums, we’ve also put together a primer on the wide array of artists worth familiarizing yourself with before a winner is crowned.