10 upcoming must-see hip hop shows in Toronto
I usually associate the summer months with fun, good times, and some of the best hip hop events our city has to offer, and the end of the summer of 2012 will be no exception. With our altogether-too-long winters, we have a limited time to enjoy the good weather and laid-back vibes of summertime in the city, but there's an array of upcoming shows, events, and festivals featuring both local and international acts to still look forward to before the mercury takes a dive. What better way to enjoy the final weeks of summer than with some boom-bap festivities?
Here is a list (in chronological order) of ten shows that I'm excited about.
TUESDAY AUGUST 28 / BIG MIC TO / THE CENTRAL / 603 MARKHAM ST / 9:30PM / FREE
For those seeking a taste of Toronto's underground hip hop music scene, this event is a showcase of some of Toronto's promising up and coming emcees mixed with some relatively unknown artists. A variety of styles and flavours should be found at this show, from rappers to singers to spoken word artists. Some of the artists on the bill include: myself (MC FÜBB), Crossword (The Vibonics), F.E.L.N., and Ginz. Music provided by deejays Punjaycan and DMS.
FRIDAY AUGUST 31 / 5TH ANNUAL 106 AND YORK URBAN ARTS FESTIVAL / YORKWOOD'S THEATRE / 1785 FINCH AVE W / DOORS AT 4PM / $5
The 106 and York Festival, now in its 5th year, is an urban arts festival with an emphasis on artists from the communities in the North-West area of the city. Headline performers at this year's event include JD Era (recently signed to Raekwon's Ice H20 Record Label), Juno nominated producer/emcee Rich Kidd, and upcoming vocalist Shi Wisdom. There will be numerous other performers at the event as well as visual artists, and booths for community organizers and entrepreneurs to network. All in all, not a bad way to spend the last night of August 2012.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 2 / PUBLIC ENEMY / SOUND ACADEMY / 11 POLSON ST / 8PM / $25 IN ADVANCE
Having made their mark in the late '80s and then continuing to put out album after album since then, Public Enemy is one of the most highly influential, politically-oriented hip hop groups of all time. Their sophomore album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, is considered by many to be one of the greatest albums of all time - across all genres of music - and they'll be performing songs from the album at the show. This is a rare opportunity to hear Chuck D's bold, baritone emceeing and Flava Flav's signature hype-man vocals in Toronto. But "Don't Believe the Hype" - come and see them for yourself.
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 5 / BLU AND NOTES TO SELF / REVIVAL BAR / 783 COLLEGE ST / DOORS AT 9PM / $20 IN ADVANCE
Best known for his collaborations with DJ and producer Exile, Los Angeles emcee Blu has been gaining much international notoriety since the release of the duo's 2007 album, Below the Heavens. Having released numerous projects since then, Blu has gained a huge fan-base and for good reason - he's dope! Add to the mix Toronto hip hop heavyweights Notes to Self, who have released several banging singles since the start of 2012 (including collaborations with Evidence of Dilated Peoples and Fashawn), and this show is a can't-miss night for hip hop lovers.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 7 / DROPPIN' KNOWLEDGE / THE RIVOLI / 334 QUEEN ST W / DOORS AT 9:30PM / $12 IN ADVANCE
After a three month hiatus, hip hop monthly showcase/jam Droppin' Knowledge (aka DK) has returned. Known for booking buzzing up-and-coming artists from the US as well as showcasing Toronto talent, DK is a fun-vibe hip hop show with a youthful party atmosphere. This month's event is featuring Los Angeles native Iman Omari, known for his recent Energy mixtape and collaborations with Kendrick Lamar and Mac Miller. Other local talent on the bill include: TFHouse, Kit Knows, and DK founder Fundament. Music supplied by DJ James Redi with special guest DJ Mensa, co-hosted by Double X and Roshin (Notes to Self).
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 12 / RELIC - MILES TO GO ALBUM RELEASE PARTY / THE RIVOLI / 334 QUEEN ST W / DOORS AT 9:30PM / $10
Emcee and producer Relic has been a staple of Toronto's hip hop scene for several years now. Building momentum since his 2009 album The Green Light, followed up by his EPs Not for Nothing and OuttaMind in 2011, as well as numerous single and videos, Relic has been a busy man. His latest full-length, self-produced album, Miles to Go, promises to be an incredible release, with cameos by the likes of Shad, Ghettosocks, Die-Rek, Fresco P, NewBreedMC, and more. Openers on the bill include Wio-K, Ghettosocks, Unbuttoned, and special guest Fresh Kils on the live MPC. This show looks like it will be another triumphant night for Toronto hip hop.
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 20 / THE CYPHER / THE CENTRAL / 603 MARKHAM ST / 10PM / $5
The Cypher is a grassroots hip hop that I founded with the Hip Hop Headz (H3) community in downtown Toronto in the summer of 2009, and has been operating on a monthly basis since then. The Cypher is an event designed to keep alive the spirit of spontaneous creativity and showmanship that can occur only in hip hop, giving all emcees that show up a chance to rock the mic and pass it around in the cypher. Part open mic, part hip hop jam, part showcase, The Cypher is a true-school, underground hip hop event where lovers of hip hop music and culture will feel at home. Featured performers for September's event are TBA. Music supplied by DJ Xplisit and DJ Romeo. Hosted by yours truly (MC FÜBB).
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 21 - SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 23 / 6TH ANNUAL MANIFESTO FESTIVAL / VARIOUS VENUES / TBA
Now in its sixth year, the Manifesto Festival of Community and Culture has become one of Toronto's biggest and most renowned hip hop festivals. While in previous years, the festival has spanned over a week or more, this year, it's taking place over only three days (likely working with a smaller budget due to less sponsorship). The shorter festival should not, however, dissuade lovers of hip hop music and culture from attending the Manifesto events. On day 1 there will be an art exhibition and kick-off party on at the Regent Park Arts & Cultural Center. Day 2 (Sept. 22) is the Fresh Arts 20 x Manifesto Summit youth arts program with panel discussions, speakers, and mentor classes. Day 3 (Sept. 23) is the main event, with Dundas Square being transformed into a "hip hop music, culture, and art epicenter," which will include a full day of music on the main stage featuring local and international artists (artists TBA).
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 24 / BIG K.R.I.T. - LIVE FROM THE UNDERGROUND TOUR / PHOENIX CONCERT THEATRE / 410 SHERBOURNE ST / 8PM / $26.50
Since the release of his critically acclaimed 2010 mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, Mississippi rapper and producer Big K.R.I.T. (acronym for "King Remembered In Time") has been garnering much attention from hip hop listeners. He released his debut album, Live from the Underground, earlier this year, and again managed to impress critics and fans alike. Being heralded as one of the best up-and-coming southern hip hop artists, K.R.I.T.'s music stands out for its soulful sound and honest, emotive lyrical content. Openers for the show are fellow southern rappers Slim Thug and Big Sant.
Tickets available in-stores at Rotate This, Soundscapes, Play De Record, and online at ticketmaster.ca.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 30 / BROTHER ALI / ANNEX WRECKROOM / 794 BATHURST ST / 8PM / $18.50
Indie hip hop sensation Brother Ali will be in Toronto to perform and promote his much anticipated fourth album, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Colour (which is scheduled to drop on Sept. 18). A socially conscious emcee with intense flows and bold vocal delivery, Brother Ali has been busy in 2012, receiving much love for his latest singles/music videos, such as "Not a Day Goes By," "Writer's Block," and "Shine On." For fans of politically conscious, socially aware, and at times downright inspirational lyrics, this show is for you.
Tickets available in-stores at Soundscapes, Rotate This, and Play De Record or online at ticketmaster.ca.