RHYTHMICRU with SHAD K , UNCLE DROPSI and the IRIE BAND as part of The Red Ball at the Reverb, December 15. Attendance: 300. Tickets: $10. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Rhythmicru are everywhere. The Toronto hiphoppers are a persistent promo powerhouse, their posters roller-brushed up all over downtown, their stencils splattered all over GTA sidewalks. There was a time when I'd get weekly e-mails about their upcoming events, collabos and new releases.
Their second album, the mixtapey SuperToke Vol. 1, is a thick cross-section of the underground. So the question going into their annual Red Ball last Friday was can they live up to their own hype?
The strong, busy crowd of heads awaiting the 'Cru got their first affirmative answer when MC/reggae rhymer Uncle Dropsi , who opened (doing a solid Peter Tosh cover among other things) and joined them on bass later with the Irie Band , said, "These guys work hard and they work smart."
But behind all this hard/smart work, an undeniable love of original hiphop is pushing it forward.
This was demonstrated by Rhythmicru's vigorous live set, in which they rhymed before the valley of rap fanatics around the stage. Over the abdomen-vibrating bump of their incredible instrumentals on the Reverb's ideal system, MC D-Ray , Cale Sampson and The Snowy Owl traded off rapid-fire flows and internal rhymes, living up to their promise to "go off like a girl's clothes." Bonus: they also gave away T-shirts and swag from Roach-O-Rama.
Halfway through Rhythmicru's segment, the Irie Band stepped up to jam with the MCs. Eventually, the five-piece took over the stage, flooding the room with their thick-ass dub sound..
Between sets, DJs Efsharp and Sawtay kept shit moving with can't-miss bangers by De La Soul, Erick Sermon, Reflection Eternal and Gangstarr.
Shad K 's earlier sizzler of a set gave the 'Cru something to live up to. Before they went on, the rising MC/guitarist came correct with an animated handful of songs, busting over Das EFX's Real Hiphop and following up with nothing short of just that.
He rhymed over his guitar-strumming briefly, but since his beatboxer wasn't around, he got the crowd to clap the beat, which no one had a problem doing for the city's swift-rising hiphop talent. Shad also dissed his own emo tendency and flipped an a cappella about compromise.
After experiencing Rhythmicru's loose yet dynamic energy live, I'm looking forward to their SuperToke Vol. 2 album, which they promise is coming soon.