Canadian hip hop legend Maestro Fresh Wes has dropped a new single, “Backpack Check,” and companion videos, to provide some encouragement for preschool and elementary kids returning to school in September.
“Before young Maestro goes to school, he makes sure that everything he needs is in his backpack,” the song begins. “Backpack check / Lunchbox check / Notebook check / What comes next?”
Produced by Rich Kidd, it’s a light simple song to ease the worry after almost a year-and-a-half of covid-19 uncertainty, and, in most cases, in-home learning.
The lyric video by Andrew Finlay came out Aug. 26 and an official video, featuring Maestro (real name Wes Williams), was shot by Tyler Warren Ellis.
Other lyrics include: “Mrs. Santos said Wes don’t stress. Just as long as you prep / You’ll do your best,” “And I’m ready to rock / I’m ready to roll,” adding, “Mr. Wilson told me keep writing … Mom and dad told me keep shining.”
Earlier this year, Maestro who played a high school teacher /vice-principal for eight seasons on CBC’s Mr. D, released a children’s book, Stick to Your Vision: Young Maestro Goes to School, which touches on young Maestro’s introduction to hip hop after competing in a school writing competition.
“This book was written to emphasize the importance of family structure, mentorship, hip hop, and the positive impact of inspirational elementary school teachers,” Williams said in a statement at the time. He co-wrote it with award-winning teacher and advocate Rhodora Meliton-Vanderpool; it was illustrated by Leon "Eklipz" Robinson.
Maestro, who was born in Toronto, now lives in New Brunswick, where he moved with his wife and son. With the release of his 1989 debut album, Symphony in Effect, he became the first a Black Canadian to receive a certified platinum album in Canada.
The now-classic song “Let Your Backbone Slide” was the first Canadian hip hop track to go gold. His first book, 2010’s Stick To Your Vision: How to Get Past the Hurdles and Haters to Get Where You Want to Be, won the 2011 White Pine Literary Award and was made part of the curriculum for the Adult Learning Program at Nova Scotia Community College.
“Stick to Your Vision” was the first single from his 1998 album, Built to Last.