YouTube page makes Oro-Medonte man a hit on UK hip hop scene

Joe Mercer’s Canadian Dad Reacts videos have garnered a lot of attention across the pond; ‘It is such a fun community of fans and artists’

Joe Mercer has been able to one-up his kids in the “who’s cooler” department for the last few months as a successful and respected hip hop YouTuber.  

The 46-year-old father of three started a YouTube channel in March as a way to fight his creative lull and to get back into the music he has loved most of his life.

“In the last little while, my page has surpassed my daughter’s page for subscribers,” said Mercer. “I enjoy updating her daily when I get new viewers.”

Since starting up in March, Canadian Dad Reacts has more than 1,500 subscribers. The YouTube page features Mercer, the Canadian dad, reacting to United Kingdom hip hop videos. 

The longtime hip hop fan was almost done trying to get excited about anything new in the genre and would only fall back on his early 90’s faves when listening to music.

Growing up with a brother who was nine years his elder, Mercer was exposed mainly to heavy metal and classic rock. But visiting a cousin when he was 12 years old changed his musical tastes – thanks to one video.

“We were watching MuchMusic’s Rap City, which I had never seen before, and Kool Moe Dee’s Wild Wild West came on,” said Mercer. “At the time, I was blown away. It was so amazing and I was hooked on the genre from there. I see it now and while I do always remember how it got me started, it is a pretty cheesy video.”

It was a friend that suggested he check out the UK scene and give a group called The Four Owls a chance.

“It was the first video I reacted to and I can’t explain how it brought me back. It was amazing to hear a song that took me right back to the reason I started loving hip hop,” said Mercer. “I started listening to more UK hip hop and loved the beats and the positive messages in most of the songs.”

That video has over 1,200 views and Mercer now has 193 videos on the page of him recording his reaction to a song he is hearing for the first time. 

“Reaction videos are so popular nowadays and I think it’s because it allows people to see raw emotion to a song,” said Mercer. “Everyone understands the first time they heard this or that and how special it may have been. They get to see that with reaction videos and it’s enjoyable to share in the experience with others.”

Mercer was previously involved with the newspaper industry but is currently a PR consultant with the County of Simcoe.

The experiences have allowed him to also teach himself anything he needed to know about putting together a YouTube page. From there, the Oro-Medonte resident has been connecting with people from across the pond.

“I have artists in the UK now contacting me, asking me to react to their new song and telling me that if I come over I would not open my wallet. They want to meet me as much as I would love to meet up with them,” said Mercer. “It is such a fun community of fans and artists.”

And how do people react when they see that one of the leading UK hip hop critics/enthusiasts is a mid-forties, Canadian family man from rural Ontario?

“It’s funny, it isn’t as weird as you think, at least the artists and true fans haven’t made me feel uneasy,” said Mercer. “I think I’ve had two negative responses on my page since I started and they were shot down immediately by the musicians who support what I’m doing. It’s been a very positive experience.”

Mercer is enjoying the fandom, but isn’t interested in critiquing bigger, North American names.

“Someone suggested I react to the recent surprise album from Eminem. I’m not interested in going that way, I’m very invested with the UK scene,” said Mercer. “These artists are family guys, working 9 to 5 jobs, just regular guys. I can relate to that more than millionaires like Eminem and Drake.”

Another thing he isn’t interested in is negativity.

“Some reaction videos react to songs they don’t like and they pile on to it,” said Mercer. “I am not about that and won’t do it. If I don’t like a song, I just don’t publish the video. Hammering someone’s work like that doesn’t do anything positive for anyone. Maybe you get subscribers who enjoy that, but I’m not looking for viewers that way.”

Mercer’s Canadian Dad Reacts page can be found here.  

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