Tuffhouse Records is shaping Edmonton’s urban scene with its Whyte Ave location

It's all crew love here // Stefan Legacy Photography
It's all crew love here // Stefan Legacy Photography

‘The first step to get people to stay home [in Edmonton] is that we have to invest in ours,” says Orville Green, founder of Tuffhouse Records. “The one thing Edmonton has always invested in is our sports. When it comes to hockey, there are no more loyal fans than Edmonton’s. When it comes to the CFL, same thing. So, when it comes to art, we’ve just got to put that same thing that is in us and invest it into music—not just rock, country and pop, but the urban side. The music scene is a family, but you can’t advance [one] without the other.”

In 1996, Green believed in Edmonton’s music scene. In response to the lack of an urban-music presence in the city—which resulted in many hip-hop artists relocating to more metropolitan centres like Toronto—Green decided to create something that would fill that void. The result was Tuffhouse Records, a label specializing in urban music. Green and his label were met with criticism and doubt, but he preservered, believing that he could cultivate an urban scene in the city. Nineteen years later, Tuffhouse Records is still thriving, and it moved into a new location on Whyte Avenue this past April.

“We’re not just about us, we’re about the whole community,”  says Green, who raps under the name Wayz. “That’s what gives us the longevity that we have.”

Tuffhouse Records’ new location is more than just a recording studio: it’s a place for artists to create and develop their music. Within the studio is a makeshift green room, used for the label’s own YouTube videos (Green also makes sport-review videos), music videos and photo shoots, and a space for artists to design clothing and other merchandise. While Tuffhouse helps launch the careers of hip-hop artists, Green notes that it is a place for any music genre, adding that country and rock artists have recorded at the studio as well.

“Art is one thing we stand behind,” Green says. “At the end of the day, [Edmonton] is a full community of it, so I tell different artists at any given time that [Tuffhouse is] a place to meet people, it’s a place to sit, it’s a place to write, it’s a place to practice, it’s a place to keep advancing your craft.”

Feed The Kids, the latest event from Tuffhouse Records, mirrors that of its former Hip Hop For Hunger initiative in that it’s aimed at raising food donations for Edmonton’s Food Bank while doubling as a celebration for the record label’s 19th anniversary. The one-night event will feature local and national hip-hop acts, including CMATT, KBH Ent, ABM, Danny Cash, Fayisha and more.

“[Edmonton’s] Food Bank still needs our help. A lot of people have come through the food bank system,” Green says. “I’m a man where I don’t forget where I came from … the more success you have, the more you have to give back.”

Sat, Dec 19 (9 pm)
Northlands Park Racetrack & Casino, $40



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