Local Toronto Spotlight

A Talk with Rufus John

We interviewed R&B and Soul singer Rufus John this month about his upcoming sophomore album, Gone but Not Forgotten at The Painted Lady in Toronto. Here’s what he had to say:

Tamera Russel and Dijah Payne Hug

 Photo Credit: Brian Capitao

It was a diverse crowd as many ladies (and men) of color came through to celebrate the triumphant release of Root Canal.

A lot has been said about ladies tearing down one another, so it’s beautiful to see when ladies can come together to support each other. And that was the scene at the Root Canal listening party located in the SideStreet Bar on Dundas St W.  It seemed to highlight the burgeoning and untapped talent currently going on in the city; as a diverse group of people came out to show their love to Tamera Russell, also known as TRuss, who just put out her Root Canal  project as part of a recent trilogy of albums.

The night began with reunions as Dijah Payne came out and showed her support and rocked the stage; after delivering a heartfelt speech on what TRuss means to the local scene. Payne, who graduated that same day,  explained that she felt TRuss was partially responsible for the current Toronto sound. Perhaps, more interestingly, was not what was said but implied; in that her music seemed to help heal the wounds felt by people of color in the city, as of late.

Surrounded by music and close friends, TRuss, introduced each track. She wrote and produced all the songs herself, she tells a captive audience.

As the music played; people bobbed their heads to the beat and danced as they took in the music.

“It’s all family!” screamed the DJ as he urged people to come closer.

The bar quickly filled up. People not only came from all over the city but even as far and unsuspecting as Winnipeg as told by an audience member.

The place packed with love and support shows a promising future for female emcees. Toronto’s moment in the sun has largely been male-dominated with the likes of Tory Lanez, Jazz Cartier, and Drake. However, the Ladies of Toronto are proving that they have what it takes and it is only a matter of time before one of them graces the international stage.

TRuss’ Root Canal is available for listening on SoundCloud.

UPDATE: Video Footage from the party

Root Canal Listening Party from Brian Capitao on Vimeo.

Tyler reviews the $5 Rap Show

WordBurglar and crew have been running the $5 Rap Show for the past 6 years. The show features a bevy of talent from all over the city. Here is both a review and inside look:

Manifesto Launch Party 2016

by Brian Capitao


Hiphop has always excelled at melding styles. The gangsters and the peaceniks. Hieroglyphics and 50 cent.

Manifesto is the culmination of these eclectic and diverse personalties coming together in Toronto. So, I took the opportunity to head over to Mascot Brewery where the official launch party for Manifesto was being held. The vibe was casual and laid-back. With three floors of various dj sets going on, a lot was happening but was managed very well.

Juno-Nominated Toronto rapper, Rich Kidd was emceeing for the evening. There was a tribute to deceased rappers, Redway and King Reign; and a lot of Kanye on deck.

It was beautiful to see a b-boy/b-girl session happen organically downstairs.  A crowd made room in the downstairs dining area for a couple of dancers to show off their pop-locking skills.

It was a good start to a growing and flourishing hiphop industry in Toronto.

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My NXNE Write-Up

By Brian Capitao

North By North East (NXNE) has probably done more for hiphop in Toronto than any other music festival except maybe Manifesto.

NXNE is the brain-child of editor of NOW magazine editor-in-chief, Michael Hollett. NOW magazine started as an independent magazine 30 something odd years ago and has become the artistic edifice in Toronto for anything cool and hip. And NXNE and NOW magazine has successfully brought the South by Southwest ethos to Toronto.

It was thanks to NXNE that a poor kid from Toronto got to see DE LA SOUL for free at Dundas Square only a couple of years ago. I have flashbacks of my early 20s when me and my friends would scour NOW for shows. And it seems within the last 5 years hiphop has become more prominently featured in the magazine. NXNE’s mission I imagine is to turn Toronto into an all-around music city. This year did not disappoint. Both Tyler and I had scored tickets to the big show thanks to Ryerson.

ScHoolboy Q and Ghostface Killah were the main event Friday night, with Schoolboy headlining. I had mixed feelings. Since when has ScHoolboy Q usurped Ghostface on a bill?

Going into the show knowing that I had no real expectations. Once Ghost hit the stage he went through some classics and brought out Sheek Louch of D-Block. It was cool. However, I felt that Sheek Louch did most of the heavy-lifting in regards to the performance. I mean if half the crowd can recite your verses there may be no point to saying the whole thing but it felt lazy. At one point, Ghost brought out a bevy of women on stage, some who were twerking – nice! Or was it? It was pure novelty and that was what I felt with most of Ghost’s performance. Pure novelty.

So I was kind of disappointed with Ghostface’s performance. I had no idea what to expect with ScHoolboy Q’s performance. I was pleasantly surprised. Q came out to Gangsta and the energy was live, pulsating through the throngs of fans. For a relatively new artist Q had an extensive catalogue – so extensive that he was doing requests!

Tyler had hoped for Blind Threats. No such luck. Though he did everything from Studio to Blessed to Druggy with Hoes Again. He did his new track with Kanye West -That Part. After my recent boycott of Kanye, I thought I would never want to hear him again but Kanye’s lyrics were actually entertaining as expertly delivered by ScHoolboy Q. He closed out the show with probably my two favorite songs by him, Break the Bank and the closer Man of the Year.

All in all. It was a good show. I definitely recommend checking out anyone from the Black Hippy crew live.

~One Love

First Concert in the New Year.

Hello People,

We are back in the New Year. Be sure to check back on our website as we have some exciting things planned ahead for 2016.



I was there in the beginning. Manifesto was a big deal. It was the first sign that hiphop in Toronto had finally taken off into mainstream appeal, on a mass scale. Manifesto was started as a non-profit grass-roots organization created by young people for young people.

Manifesto incorporated all 4 elements of hiphop; emceeing, djing, breakdancing, graffiti. It was to be our Rock the Bells, bringing out some of the biggest names in hiphop and gave our artists some well-needed exposure. Manifesto introduced me to the likes of 4th Pyramid, Notes to Self and D-Sisive while bringing Jean Grae and Talib Kweli to Toronto.

Manifesto was started by Che Kothari and Ryan Paterson in 2007, originally called Manifesto Community Projects. It was the result of many town hall meetings and community discussions. For two years, Manifesto operated on a volunteer basis. It wasn’t until 2009 that Manifesto received support from the Ontario Arts Council and Ontario Trillium Foundation. Proving itself as a staple in the Toronto music scene, Manifesto re-united everyone on the Northern Touch track (minus Kardinal Offishal) for an explosive finale in 2008 – their second year.

I was glad to see Manifesto return to their roots this year. Manifesto remains largely a community event. Volunteers help make the show what it is and I was happy that Canadian artist Kaystranada and local artist Junia-T got their shine. As Manifesto continues to grow, it’s important that it maintains its integrity. Corporations have already infiltrated the culture, they co-opted the movement and have diluted the message. Manifesto remains a beacon of authenticity in a world of commercial sell-outs.