Hip-Hop Karaoke Flows Into The Boat

(Update: This was a preview of the first Hip-Hop Karaoke Toronto event. Read reviews here.)

Popular as the Gladstone's Melody Bar remains with patrons crooning their best Meat Loaf and Motown, the official Toronto debut of Hip-Hop Karaoke tests performers' skills on the mic with a fresh approach -- not to mention a songbook update. Straight outta Stillepost's heads-up (and based on the successful NYC event of the same name), the Never Forgive Action crew -- DJs Dalia and Numeric (aka exclaim! mag's Noel Dix) and host More or Les -- bust out with a promising new showcase for local MCs (of the sucker variety and otherwise depending on who you ask).

At the Wavelength 350 panel discussion last week -- an imagining of how Toronto's diverse spheres of independent music, arts and culture could overlap, and how that might work -- Les brought up In Divine Style, HHK TO's predecessor as an open-mic format MC event. (The final IDS happened just over a year ago.) "Underground is to rap what indie is to rock," he pointed out, saying events like IDS and HHK, which give underground and unsigned MCs a chance to perform, "are really about getting the opportunity to do own thing, people from all walks of life." [UPDATE: Clarification: Unlike at IDS, HHK participants cannot perform their own rhymes, and instead must perform one of the tracks from the catalogue provided.]

Citing the monthly HeadsConnect mixed-bag jam Rhythmicru hosts -- at the last one, following iNSiDE a MiND's weird, wonderful beat science, Les went off on a favourite topic: brunch -- Les made note of the monthly event's inclusive approach: "Rhythmicru don't care who you are ... you're cool with the rapping stuff? They want to know you." The MC, DJ and, of late, Herbaliser collaborator, thinks Hip-Hop Karaoke could further that openness. (CBC Radio's Big City Small World recorded the discussion; girl-about-town Tori Allen debriefs with host Garvia Bailey on the Feb 17 show.)

The new Toronto party's MySpace page (other spinoff chapters include London and Iceland) emphasizes its Vanilla Ice-free vibe as an opportunity for "closet MCs" and pros to flow on their favourites tracks: "Using all original instrumentals we provide hundreds of classic jams for everyone to flex their lyrical skill, from the seasoned hip-hop veteran to the casual fan. ... Who I'd like to meet: Maestro Fresh Wes and Michie Mee ... You better come to Hip-Hop Karaoke!" (Which classic jams you ask? Try these ones, for starters.)

You never know -- Big Daddy Kane showed up and threw down at one HHK NYC event, ditto Jeru The Damaja -- and just last month, New York magazine reported that Rhymefest rocked Biz Markie's"Just A Friend.")

HHK Toronto, like its predecessors, will provide the beats, the lyrics and the hype, so all you need to do is bring it -- and yourself -- on the mic.

Hip-Hop Karaoke Toronto
Sign Up at 9PM, Show at 10.
Thursday, February 15 at The Boat (158 Augusta Ave.). $5

Image by Rick Purcell used with permission from Hip-Hop Karaoke NYC

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