BRASSMUNK with MATHEMATIK , CITIZEN KANE , SHYLOW , 9TH UNO , RED CLAY and OKAI as part of RISE UP! a benefit for the GuluWalk, at Drake Hotel, January 14. Tickets: $20. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Support was overwhelming for Rise Up!, a funder for northern Ugandan children living amidst a nearly 20-year civil war.
The successful instalment of Adrian Bradbury and Kieran Hayward 's GuluWalk series of events found its bill flooded by an A-list of Toronto hiphoppers, guaranteeing its status as blazingest ticket of the week.
On the Drake Underground 's ideally crisp sound system, Big Jacks, aka Jacksploitation , held it down as host, raffle announcer and DJ, and superb DJs Linx , Taktiks and Seven:30 threw down classic material throughout the night, getting a warm vibe simmering.
Soon, opening MC Okai rolled out with a djembe drum and started rhyming. The Haitian-rooted, Brooklyn-based rapper ran through full-sounding beats, spitting truth about capitalism and history with a dead prez-like mindset.
Next up, the sextet Sick Sound Syndrome busted shit up with their thumping orchestra of mouth music. Like the X-Ecutioners of beatboxing, they each soloed, cutting up Timbaland-style beats and The Bitches by Jeru the Damaja.
Citizen Kane , who hasn't been seen in a while, wouldn't perform until people moved closer to the stage, setting the tone for his serious, aggressive set. Kicking that street shit over ill beats (that his DJ cut off abruptly whenever he was done), Kane preached unity and reminded everyone, "Rap's not important, life's important." Then he did a deep and heavy a cappella explaining who he is.
Shylow and 9th Uno lightened things up, and people gravitated toward the stage thanks to their strategy of including the crowd. While Saukrates 's long dreads moved through the audience, over yet more incredible golden-age beats, they traded knockout punchlines like "You remind me of undigested food - you ain't shit."
The understated Mathematik , who also hasn't been heard from in a minute, brought back the night's conscious tone over some sincere but still energetic beats. The crowd went plantains when Saukrates formed like Voltron.
Mighty headliners BrassMunk got a similar reaction from the packed house, and somehow managed to outperform all who'd come before.
Maybe it was the worthy addition of King Reign 's lethal flows, Saukrates's continued cameo, Agile 's stellar funk beats shaking the room - or maybe it was just Brass's attention to keeping the crowd engaged with their humour and energy - that sent the amazing night out in a blaze of funk glory.