LSM Showcase with Point Blank, Empire, Mayhem Morearty , DA Records , 20/20 Records & DJ Shortcut at the 360, November 27. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 175. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
When Toronto rap artists release product that proclaims Toronto a real-ass city, people laugh that we've got nothing on the crime-ridden streets of New York and our artists are just aping the U.S. East Coast's gritty style. But Gotham doesn't have a lock on hecticness. When murder and poverty constantly make the headlines here, you can't deny that the suffering and hope that spur the dreams of rappers truly do exist in T.O.
That feeling was in the air at the 360 during an appearance by the flip side of Toronto's underground scene. This wasn't about who's the whitest and has the funkiest backpack. This was about realness, DAT machines and large groups of dudes wearing expressive T-shirts.
The vibe certainly was right, thanks largely to DJ Shortcut of CIUT's Project Bounce radio show, who rocked the crowd with classics like Smoothe da Hustler's Broken Language, as well as the night's host, Fatcat , who was instrumental in moving the acts along - not an easy task when most crews brought at least seven people onstage.
Mayhem Morearty of CD-hustling grassroots project Hustle Mann rocked well, thanks to boisterousness and tight rapping over savvy modern jams provided by beatmaker Soze . They helped energize the crowd for Empire , who distinguished themselves via creative shirts (the best being one that read "S.A.R.S. - sick artists runnin' shit"), by their proclamations of concern over Toronto's recent gun violence and by skilled a cappella verse.
Regent Park's Point Blank wasted no time hitting the stage in their "Fuk Tha Rest" Ts. MCs Trouble , Stump and Imperial blazed through a too-short set, showcasing a few of their tough gangsta tracks to a responsive crowd, schizophrenically playing a psycho-violent song and following it up with an anti-violence parable.
If there was a problem with the evening, it was that although the crews established who they were, they should have introduced each MC - and there were too many people on the small 360 stage, considering that many were there for bellowing purposes.
Why so much hollering? If you don't sound like M.O.P. on wax, there's no need to yell so much live, especially over an MC's verse.
The night ended well. The mike was thrown open and several skilled freestylers rocked the crowd. A good sound mix and fun vibe made this an enjoyable Saturday night and a refreshing reminder that there are many sides to the word "underground."