In 1997, Ontario native Kareem Blake
(performing as Choclair
), released the single "21 Years" and was rewared with Canada's version of the Grammy- the Juno- for his debut efforts. The following year, he walked away with another Juno for Northern Touch and the accolades didn't stop there, as the emcee was awarded the prestigious Artist of the Year from the Urban Music Association of Canada in the summer of 1999.
That's coming a long way from freestyling at house Parties in the mid-eighties as a teenager. Choclair
("light as air") performed at school and at talent shows before hooking up with fellow Canadian emcees and producers Kardinal Offishall
, Saukrates and Jully Black. In short order, he became the first Canadian signed onto a major American label (Virgin's Priority Records) and released his first full-length album, Ice Cold
, to heat up the charts in early 2000.