Maestro is the stage name of Wesley Williams, a Canadian hip hop artist and actor. His pioneering status and outstanding achievements have led to him being referred to as the "Godfather of Canadian hip hop". Originally known as Melody MC, he changed his moniker to Maestro Fresh Wes by 1989. This was shortened to just "Maestro" in the late 1990s.
In 1989 he became the first Canadian rapper to have a Top 40 hit, "Let Your Backbone Slide". As of early 2008, "Let Your Backbone Slide" remained the best-selling Canadian hip hop single of all time, and the only certified gold single in Canadian hip hop history. Eighteen years after its release, Maestro's debut album, Symphony in Effect (1989), remains the top selling Canadian hip hop album of all time; at 190,000 units sold, it is 10,000 shy of double platinum. On Maestro's song/video "Nothing at All" (Black Tie Affair, 1991), he acknowledges this feat, rapping:
"My first album, symphony in effect went platinum/ in Canada that made me the first Black one/ to achieve that goal, I even got offered a movie role. Hunh, I turned it down, I didn't wanna be no star portrayin' a nigga that dwelled behind bars..."
After the success of his 1991 album, The Black Tie Affair, Maestro's career faltered as he attempted to break into the United States market. However, he returned to the Canadian charts in 1998, with the hit singles "Stick to Your Vision" and "416/905 (T.O. Party Anthem)".
In 2000, "Ever Since" featured the track "Bustin Loose", in which Maestro Fresh Wes teamed up with Kardinal Offishall.
In 2005, Maestro covered Lawrence Gowan's song "A Criminal Mind" (featuring Infinite); Gowan appears in the video and his vocals are sampled on the track. Gowan also performed the song with Maestro at the Canadian Urban Music Awards in 2006.
In 2006 Maestro again made Canadian hip hop history when he and Rochester AKA Juice joined The Dope Poet Society on stage in Cannes, France. Together, they become the first Canadian hip hop acts ever to showcase at Midem, the world's largest and most influential annual music industry conference.
He has had acting roles in the series Metropia, Instant Star, Platinum, Blue Murder, and The Line, as well as the films Poor Boy's Game, Get Rich or Die Tryin', Honey, and Four Brothers. As an actor, he is normally credited as Wes Williams.
Maestro was inducted into the Scarborough Walk of Fame in 2006 and holds the following awards and distinctions: two Juno Awards, 12 Juno nominations, four MuchMusic Video Awards (People's Choice), first Canadian rap artist to go gold (album & single), first Canadian hip hop single to go gold, platinum album - Best Selling Hip Hop Artist in Canadian History, UMAC Pioneer Award -1998, 2002 Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in Arts (Canada - NAACP), 2002 UMAC Special Achievement Award, and 2003 REEL World Film Festival Trailblazer Award.
In 2003, Deejay Ra launched a series of radio PSA's to launch the first Canadian 'Hip-Hop Appreciation Week' with the support of the National Film Board of Canada, aimed at stronger industry recognition of Canadian hip hop pioneers Wes 'Maestro' Williams and Michelle 'Michie Mee' McCullock.
Symphony in Effect 1989
Symphony in Effect is the second album by Canadian rapper Maestro Fresh Wes. The album was successful in Canada, with 190,000 copies sold. It nearly went double platinum, and remains one of the best-selling Canadian hip hop albums of all time. The first single "Let Your Backbone Slide" became the first hit single in Canadian hip hop history. A second single, "Drop The Needle", was released in 1990.
1. "Drop The Needle" – 5:44
2. "Untouchable" – 3:44
3. "The Mic's My Piece" – 5:58
4. "LTD's On The Wheel(s) Of Fortune" – 4:33
5. "I'm Showin' You" – 4:49
6. "Let Your Backbone Slide" (Power Mix) – 4:58
7. "Private Symphony" – 5:40
8. "Just Swingin' " – 5:28
9. "The Maestro" – 3:47
10. "Tear It Up" – 2:22
11. "Fortissimo" – 2:31