Adam Massiah works on a track on his laptop in the recording studio. PHOTO: MACKLEN LINKE

Adam Massiah has been a hip hop artist since high school, but after a power struggle with the owner of an underground recording studio, he is now the head of operations and has since done renovations and created a unique culture.

Massiah was inspired to start writing poetry after constant moving, family members passing away and his parents’ messy divorce when he was four. The first rap he wrote was a response to a couple of kids who tried to pick on him in school which resulted in Massiah getting suspended. He now uses rap as a way to convey emotion.

“Your job as an artist is to get that emotional response from your listener. So I don’t care if it’s I make you super sad, if I make you super happy, if I have your shock value and your jaw’s on the floor. If you’ve felt some sort of reaction to what you listened to then I’ve done my job as an artist,” says Massiah.

The first studio Massiah ever used was his closet. He sound-proofed it by nailing blankets to the walls and putting socks over his microphone. He eventually realized he wanted higher quality music and decided to go to a professional recording studio called The Beach.

However, Massiah says the recording process at The Beach felt rushed and he couldn’t make the full piece of art he wanted to.

After the previous owner of New West Entertainment reached out to Massiah after seeing him perform at a rap battle at The Commonwealth – a bar in downtown Calgary – Massiah decided to check out the studio.

“I pulled through this spot, there’s like no lighting, no signage, I’m like, ‘Where the hell, I’m getting robbed, that’s what’s gonna happen.’ So I pull up and walk up these dark set of stairs, he opens the door and that’s the first time I saw New West Entertainment.”

After working with New West Entertainment for two-and-a-half years, Massiah started facing issues with the man who brought him on due to different visions they had for the studio.

“Essentially he was saying I couldn’t use the studio anymore. I have to give back my keys. I wasn’t able to use the logo. I was getting removed from all the accounts. My name was getting taken off the lease,” says Massiah.

One of the founders of the studio and the one responsible for the layout is Adolphus Bohn, who also knew the man who recruited Massiah well.

Bohn said the people who ran the studio wanted to work as a team and the man who brought Massiah on had a big ego that proved difficult to work with. Messiah was also bringing in a lot of people through the studio which raised tensions between him and the other man

Bohn mentioned that the man who brought Massiah on may have felt like Massiah was trying to overshadow him.

The struggle between Massiah and the other man ended when he left for Toronto to produce music, leaving Massiah to become the head of operations at New West Entertainment after a decision was made by the people who operate the studio.

“There’s always competition but I don’t think that’s really gonna slow us down from accomplishing our goals at the end of the day.”

ADAM MASSIAH

Since becoming head of operations, Massiah has been trying to build New West Entertainment as a brand with a strong community where people can hang out and make music.

Ym Meechie is a hip hop artist who grew up in Vancouver and has been recording and mixing in the New West Entertainment studio for the past two years. 

“It’s [the environment] something that allows the artist or, you know, like anyone working with us to really be themselves, you know,” says Meechie.

New West Entertainment continues to provide an environment for artists to hang out and contribute to Calgary’s hip hop scene. Since the start of New West Entertainment, roughly 100 artists have passed through and although most are Alberta based they have had a few artists from the United States.

“We’re not going anywhere, I mean we continue to build this, we’ve been around for 5 years and outlast all these other ones that pop up. There’s always competition but I don’t think that’s really gonna slow us down from accomplishing our goals at the end of the day”, says Massiah.

He has also recently become the CEO of the United Black People Allyship Movement which has organized anti-racism rallies around Calgary since the death of George Floyd in May.