The conversations that surround the Junos are usually more interesting than the award show itself (stay tuned to NOW for more on that), but there was one performance at last night’s Vancouver broadcast that overshadowed all the talk around gender parity, the historic under-representation of hip-hop, #MeToo and the elephant in the room.
After winning Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Jesse Reyez took the stage to perform her breakout song Figures from last year’s Kiddo EP. Her raspy powerhouse vocals, already a showstopper on the bluesy throwback, were given an extra boost when fellow Toronto rising R&B singer Daniel Caesar, posing as a backup singer, came to join her for a duet. It felt like a real coming out party for Reyez, and a pivotal moment for post-Drake GTA pop.
Turns out it wasn’t a one-time collaboration. This morning, we awoke to find Figures, A Reprise – the studio version of the two young stars’ duet. Caesar, singing in a lower register than usual, adds new degrees of nuance and soul to the fiery post-heartbreak kiss-off anthem. An extra push for a song that deserves to be a hit.
At her JUNOfest performance at the Commodore Ballroom earlier that weekend, Reyez shared the stage with the reunion of the Northern Touch All-Stars – Rascalz, Checkmate, Kardinal Offishall, Choclair and Thrust – for a reprise of their Canadian hip-hop anthem, which still matters 20 years later. The Flyer Vault got the footage.
Then, later at the gala, presenting the Best Rap Recording Juno to an absent Tory Lanez, the group launched into an impromptu acapella performance of Northern Touch. Thankfully, that meant two decades after their initial boycott, the Canadian hip-hop legends got to do more than sing backup on If I Had A Million Dollars.
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