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Ajani Charles Pays Homage to Toronto’s Hip-Hip Community in Monumental Art Installation at Billy Bishop Airport

If I were to ask you about Toronto’s hip-hop culture, what names would come to mind? You might name a few popular artists who’ve made their way to the mainstream airwaves, taking the world by storm and capturing a global audience. However, you would be missing a substantial portion of Toronto’s rich hip-hop archive and the trailblazers who paved the way. 

Ajani Charles has made it his mission to ensure that the unique tapestry of Toronto’s hip-hop culture is forever woven into the history books with his documentary project, ‘Project T-Dot.’ What started in 2006 has grown into the largest art exhibit and archive on hip-hop culture in Canadian history. The exhibit features over 80 familiar faces of Toronto’s hip-hop community across 60 large-scale black and white vinyl prints on display at Billy Bishop Airport and features a 55-inch touchscreen that houses the first comprehensive database of a major city’s hip-hop culture.

The exhibit follows Ajani’s success with his first solo ‘Project T-Dot,’ an art exhibit at Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square in 2022. Presented by Nieuport Aviation and sponsored by Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Ajani’s ‘Project T-Dot’ is also part of the CONTACT Photography Festival’s 2024 programming.

I met with Ajani at the site of his exhibit at Billy Bishop Airport for a tour, and instantly, the passion he carries for this project was obvious. Not only has this been an incredible undertaking for Ajani, who has been both creative director and business manager, but it has also been a life-long commitment to preserving Toronto’s hip-hop culture and legacy.

Recent conversations in hip-hop have begged the question, ‘What is Toronto’s hip-hop sound?” For that answer, we need to look no further than some of the originals, Jully Black, Kardinal Offishall, Maestro, DJ Starting From Scratch, Master T, Director X, and Moses Znaimer, who, In 1984, founded the music video channel MuchMusic, one of the first specialty cable channels in Canada with its very own spaces for hip-hop with ‘Da Mix’ and ‘Rap City.’

As we strolled by the black-and-white images, each a little snippet of history, Ajani spoke about his personal experiences with some of the community members and highlighted their significant contributions to the hip-hop scene and broader cultural landscape. Figures like Chris Bosh, The Weeknd, and Drake have undoubtedly made an impact, reaching new heights beyond the borders of Canada that will be remembered for many years to come. 

Ajani is proof that bringing your vision to life requires perseverance, grit, and business acumen. Over the last two decades, he has positioned himself as a standout talent, answering the call to preserve Toronto’s hip-hop history. Charles plans on expanding the exhibit’s interactive and educational components and starting a ‘Project T-Dot’ non-profit organization to support hip-hop-focused projects by underserved youth in Toronto.

Whether you’re passing through to catch your next flight or just curious about Ajani Charles’s incredible exhibit, check out ‘Project T-Dot.’ You will also be able to take in Ajani’s amazing work through his partnership with PATTISON Outdoor. The short film of Charles’s exhibit (seen above) will be streamed throughout the TTC and through the PATH for the next couple of months. 

Exhibit Run Time:

Wednesday, January 24, 2024 – Friday, January 31, 2025

Airport Terminal Atrium, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
2 Eireann Quay Toronto, Ontario, M5V 1A1

To keep up with Ajani Charles’ story and life’s work, follow him on social media @ajaniphoto or visit his website and sign up to receive updates.

Ashley Nedaei

Ashley is the Director of Marketing at Notable Life Inc. As an audacious and creative entrepreneurial spirit, she splits her time between raising her two sons with her husband and toy poodle and creative pursuits in music, beauty, and business. Follow her adventures @ndaiart.