Adulis ‘Chedo’ Mokanan has made a career of picking the brains of artists and creatives. As host and founder of The Come Up Show, a radio show and website described by CBC Music as a “hip-hop centrifuge” and one of the Top 10 Canadian music blogs, Mokanan has interviewed over 500 artists in his decade in the music industry.
What’s the common lesson he’s learned?
“Everyone has their own path,” says Chedo. “Somebody can tell you everything that they know, but you’ve still gotta figure it out for yourself.”
For Mokanan, that has meant finding a way to build a viable media outlet supporting Canadian talent in an industry in which only a select few artists are making a living off their craft.
“What I’m doing does not exist, really,” says Mokanan. “There’s not too many models.”
Maintaining confidence in the face of the odds has meant approaching his craft with a mix of passion and relentless determination — the same drive that has led him to interviews with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. The passion for music goes way back for Chedo, though — to a childhood spent halfway around the world. His family, originally from Eritrea, lived in Saudia Arabia until he was 10 years old.
“What I’m doing does not exist, really. There’s not too many models.” – Adulis Mokanan
“I remember two things vividly: Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan,” he laughs. “The greats.”
His family’s move to London, Ontario in 1996 introduced Mokanan to a new genre: hip-hop. It was one he wouldn’t soon forget. He began devouring it at every opportunity, sharing his favourites with classmates by writing songs of the day on the chalkboard.
A high school teacher, recognizing Mokanan’s passion, allowed him to play music during the lunch hour.
“It was like, ‘Whoa,’” says Mokanan. “‘How can I do this for the rest of my life?’”
A radio gig followed at 94.9 CHRW — the campus radio station at the University of Western Ontario. Mokanan’s first opportunity came on December 23rd, 2006.
“I was so nervous, I didn’t talk for the first 30 minutes,” he says.
Fast-forward to 2017, and Mokanan’s labour of love, The Come Up Show, has celebrated its 10th anniversary. Starting as a campus radio show, it has grown into a full-blown media operation, complete with video interviews, music columns, concert photography, and a weekly podcast.
“It’s funny,” says Mokanan. “I could tell you tons of memories from the past ten years, but what I’m doing right now is what’s really inspiring me […] The love that I’m feeling for the music, I just want to share it with people.”
Photo credit: Andrew S. Photography