When Ottawa native Tom Green appeared on the popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast last November, the comedian discussed a range of topics, including his upbringing in the capital and his time as a rapper and recording artist in the local hip-hop group Organized Rhyme.
As the two watched the now legendary music video for the group’s hit song Check The O.R., Rogan inquired about who the other group members in the video were. Green responded with one name: “Greg Campbell.” This had many listeners wondering who exactly this mystery man was.
Well, Greg Campbell is now a father, husband and longtime realtor based here in Ottawa. But while you may think that a mention on the largest podcast in the world with 190 million downloads per month would be a major feather in his cap, Campbell is no stranger to the limelight.
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The 46-year-old first turned to rap music to help him overcome his fear of speaking in front of his class, building a reputation as the kid who rapped his oral presentations. Two years later in 1988, he and Green, known then as MC Pin and MC Bones, started the rap group Organized Rhyme while attending Colonel By Secondary School.
“We met in high school while skateboarding. One day he asked me if I was into rap music and if I could rap,” Campbell recalls. “He said he wanted to perform in the high school talent show as a rap group. I said yes, and then we went back to his place, started writing, making beats and put together a show. He had all the gear and was great at getting things started.”
Campbell and Green would eventually go on to release the song Check The O.R., sampled from a record they found at the University of Ottawa’s CHUO 89.1FM, where the pair had a radio show.
The song eventually made them one of the first Canadian hip-hop acts to land a major record deal when they signed with A&M Records. The duo later earned the MuchMusic Video Award for Best Rap Video in 1992.
After Organized Rhyme disbanded two years later, Green moved on to Hollywood, hosting his own late-night talk show before appearing in blockbuster films such as Charlie’s Angels. Meanwhile, Campbell – who was diagnosed with a form of synesthesia, meaning he sees colours when he hears music – continued to build a name for himself in the music industry under the moniker “Mr. Bigstuff.”
A week after dropping out of the TV broadcasting program at Algonquin College, he and a friend packed their car and moved to Vancouver, where he opened a small recording studio and rehearsal space while working security at a nightclub and performing in a band.
Eventually, Campbell found a niche producing gangster rap in the late ’90s and early 2000s, even working with big American acts such as Ice-T, Nate Dogg and Kurupt, Luniz, B-Legit and Mac Mall.
Return to Ottawa
He then produced and performed with the female rap duo StinkMitt, which would eclipse Organized Rhyme in underground popularity in both Canada and Europe, with CBC broadcaster George Stroumboulopoulos even proclaiming, “Forget the Beatles – StinkMitt is the greatest band ever.”
After closing down his Gastown recording studio in 2006, he returned to Ottawa to try his hand at another highly competitive industry: real estate.
“My mom had been in real estate since the early ’80s, so I already knew what it was like,” Campbell explains. “It gave me some freedom of not working a 9-to-5 job, which I’ve fortunately never done in my life. I started working with her and enjoyed it. I love meeting people in general, so it worked well.”
After years working with his mother at Coldwell Banker Rhodes & Company, he took his talents to Blue Panda Realty in 2017, later opening the firm’s Orléans office in 2019.
“It gave me some freedom of not working a 9-to-5 job, which I’ve fortunately never done in my life.”
Campbell already had a bit of a connection to the agency. Co-owner Irina Popova was good friends with his wife, Anna, and he and founder Max Damour “hit it off immediately,” he explains.
“I was the first agent outside of his team to join the brokerage, and it’s been growing ever since,” Campbell says. “I loved it being small because it reminded me of how I set up my business in Vancouver. Easy to communicate and make moves without any red tape or overseers to stop us from doing certain things.”
Although he now wears two hats as a realtor and more recently as a partner at Blue Panda, Campbell still finds time to go back to his broadcasting and music roots, both as a weekly real estate podcaster and artist.
He’s currently working on a three-song project with his wife called The Comfort Zone, a mix of electronic, hip-hop, R&B and pop, as well as another rap project with two other local artists, J.A.I. Makes Music and Natural.
Campbell may even have some music in the works with his famous former groupmate after their highly publicized reunion concert at the 2011 edition of Just For Laughs in Montreal.
“We are in touch now more than ever before,” he says. “We have talked about doing music and have tried recording remotely, but it just doesn’t work. Tom and I have a pretty great chemistry when it comes to working together, and that will have to be in the same room. He’ll be back in town at some point soon as a stop on his current cross-country Van Tour. We’ll probably make a song and then cry, because it’ll be over 30 years since we made our first songs together.”