Jae Sterling calls it “the mission.”Certainly, it’s an ambitious enough endeavour to meet that criteria. The Jamaican-born, Calgary-based hip-hop artist began a week-long residency at the National Music Centre on Monday. The specific goals are to produce an EP and documentary using the centre’s instruments, studios and engineers while drawing from the city’s often unheralded hip-hop talent.But the big-picture goal is much grander.“We want a Calgary sound, we want an Alberta sound,” says Sterling, in an interview from his Calgary home. “This is the beginning of that, the genesis of that.”Neither the documentary nor the EP have a name as of yet. But Sterling will be overseeing the project as one of four artists participating in the National Music Centre’s 2019 artist-in-residence program. It will end with an afternoon workshop on April 20 for youth. Before that, Sterling will be joined in the studio by fellow local hip-hop artists such as Cartel Madras, Lyrique and Profit.This is not Sterling’s first act of community hip-hop building in his adopted home.Sterling, producer Yung Kamaji and Cartel Madras, which is made up of Calgary-based sisters Priya (Contra) and Bhagya (Eboshi) Ramesh, were among the acts that formed the Thot Police back in December. The artistic collective is focused on building the scene in the province and Calgary specifically.“It could mould into many different things,” Sterling says. “This is going to be a whole different story that is going to be told through the music, through the documentary we’ll be shooting. With the help of NMC, we’ll get to everyone hopefully.”Part of the idea behind both the residency and the workshop is to introduce the Thot Police to new up-and-coming hip-hop artists in the city and vice versa.“The approach has always been to try and tell my story and other stories, basically what I’ve heard all my life growing up,” Sterling says. “With this opportunity, I can bring other artists in that do hip-hop in this city. Multiple stories will be told. It’s going to be a whole new story for Calgary that I’m pretty sure nobody has heard before.”Sterling was born in Montego Bay and didn’t make his to Calgary until he was 19. Growing up, he immersed himself in American hip-hop. Being surrounded by music is as natural as being surrounded by sunshine at home. It’s everywhere.“Basically everything there is hip-hop,” Sterling says. “Jamaica is a hip-hop country. No one realizes that, but it is. Hip-hop started in Jamaica and went to New York and carried through dancehall music. Growing up in between those two worlds you choose one. You choose dancehall or you choose hip-hop. I chose hip-hop. Eventually that turned into me wanting to be a rapper.”“I say all the time, I almost didn’t have a choice,” adds Sterling about being surrounded by music in his home country. “I don’t know any family in Jamaica that is not around music 24-7. Hip-hop is everything to us down there. It started out as something we would do to impress the opposite sex in school and whatever. Eventually, with migrating, and being outside of the scene in Jamaica, it really was eye-opening that I could do everything on my own.”Which is exactly what he did. Once in Calgary, Sterling set about teaching himself production and engineering. He said part of the reasoning behind the youth focus of the workshop is to provide the sort of mentorship that he didn’t get as a fledgling hip-hop artist.“With this residency, with the acknowledgement that comes with it, now I know I’m doing something right,” he says. “Others see that as well. Why not spread the knowledge? Why not make more of it here? I can’t exist on my own.”Sterling won’t be completely reinventing the wheel. There has long been a hip-hop scene in Calgary. But he says he is interested in crafting a new aesthetic, a regional sound that will immediately be identified as Albertan.“What we bring different to the table is the trap song, which is electronic music,” he says. “So there is no band involved with most of it. The lyrics are way more crude and brash, way more street, which is basically more my background of things. But with a touch of intelligence behind it. It’s not just garbage music. That’s what we hope to accomplish with this. A whole new sound.”With the residency, Sterling will have the run of the place, including NMC’s impressive recording equipment. He sees himself as the project’s “puppeteer”, crafting the beats, hooks and music and inviting other artists from Calgary to collaborate over top.“This NMC thing is most likely going to be a recruitment thing for us,” he says. “This is how we see who we can work with.”Jae Sterling will hold a 1 p.m. workshop on April 20 at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.