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The Unity Festival culminated in a free concert in Yonge-Dundas Square, celebrating hip-hop youth culture, including performances by Raz Fresco, Airplane Boys, Maestro and Biz Markie. Photos by Roger Cullman.
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APB and RAZ FRESCO as part of UNITY FESTIVAL at Yonge-Dundas Square, Saturday, July 25. Rating: NNN
Beck Motley and Bon Voyage, collectively known as APB (or the Airplane Boys) are fresh off a raucous sold-out performance at the Mod Club - a career high for the Scarborough-bred duo. Beaming as they took the stage Saturday, the two were clearly still basking in the glory of that performance.
Still, the Unity Festival's transient crowd - filled with both curious on-lookers as much as genuine music fans - was a challenge. But they overcame that by jumping in and rapping directly in the faces of attendees, a move that inspired many to bounce with excitement and sent smartphones aflutter.
Part of APB's charm is their unabashed sincerity. They closed with their newest single, Scarborough Kids, an overcoming-the-odds anthem that unified a diverse audience.
Earlier, Toronto emcee Raz Fresco took the stage with a relaxed swagger that belied his 19 years. In front of children on their parents' shoulders, fashionably dressed teenage Tumblrites, and several pockets of breakdancing troupes set up directly on the Yonge-Dundas blacktop, he demonstrated the bag of performance tricks that have bolstered his reputation.
For example, Fresco - known for his soulful 90s revivalism - spat confidently over a melody of southern beats from the crunk golden era, including Like A Pimp and You Don't Want Drama. The artist saved the best moment for last, when he teased a new track from an upcoming release, featuring woozy production and a grimy bass line - uncharted territory for him. If the aggressive thump is any indication of where his next mixtape is headed, one of the city's most underrated emcees may be closer to getting his commercial due.