Addi Stewart’s wild ride

He's been into rap, DJing, journalism... and even porn

A prominent Toronto rapper and DJ says the key for music journalism is to absorb as much of the local music scene as possible.

Addi Stewart, who is also known by his stage name Mindbender, spoke with students at Centennial College’s East York campus recently. He’s contributed pieces to magazines like Now and XXL and interviewed major rappers like Kanye West and Nas.

“I had all this education and wisdom. But, my passion was music. My passion was art,” Stewart said.

Stewart said he had the marks to make it into prestigious schools like the University of Toronto but chose to study music production instead. He also had a job working at HMV after he graduated from Trebas in 1996, which he says helped connect him with a bevy of artists.


“It was a time when artists would do in-stores and tangible connections to the industry mattered. There was no internet,” Stewart said.

Working at the HMV allowed Stewart to see in-store performances from artists such as The Roots, Puff Daddy, Herbie Hancock and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. His colleagues were also about to do big things. He worked with future journalist Cabral Richards and soon-to-be influential director RT! among others.

Stewart said Toronto’s thriving music scene helped him make connections in the Hip Hop scene. He said he’s been to as many as five shows in a night.

“I was mostly absorbing as much information as I could…. I’ve been to so many shows I can’t even quantify it anymore,” Stewart said.

Stewart said he misses the tangible qualities of music journalism in the ’90s and revered the process of print publication.

“You had to go to record stores to find music. You actually had to buy magazines to learn about music,” Stewart said.

Stewart, who was moonlighting as a rapper, DJ as well as journalist eventually became disillusioned with the process of submitting work to major publications.

“XXL hires me and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, my dream magazine has hired me,’” Stewart said.

But then, after reading the final edit in the magazine, Stewart became upset that little of his author’s ‘voice’ had been included.

“I flip to my story. First paragraph, I don’t recognize any of that. Second paragraph, I don’t recognize any of that…. I think maybe six sentences we’re my sentences,” Stewart said.

So Stewart said he no longer writes about music and has transitioned into yet another career — in the adult film industry.