Category: The Scene

Musician Clerel playing guitar and singing at Arthaus Block Party

Local Spotlight: Arthaus’ inaugural Block Party event

Hello wonderful people, This past weekend I attended a community event put out by independent music label , Arthaus. The event was a lowkey, and chill experience. During the day, attendees had the chance to purchase goodies from vendors – some who themselves had connections … Continue reading Local Spotlight: Arthaus’ inaugural Block Party event

Key! and Upto₩n Boy Band


Photo Credit: Sarah Llewelyn

Atlanta rapper Key! hit up StudioBar on June 16. You’ve probably heard Key! on OG Maco’s banger ‘U Guessed It’. Self-styled as ‘Fatman Key’, the 26-year-old has a gravitas and self-awareness that belies his age. He comes on the cusp of a new generation of rappers. Broaching subjects like mental illness and difficult pasts; he has no problems standing apart in the crowd.

What the Future Holds for Key!

As Key! gains popularity among the new guard of hiphop, he has refused to curry favor with the mainstream industry. It’s gained him admirers, and it’s clear he doesn’t take himself too seriously. By his second song he shared the stage with a crush of opening acts, which included ACV, Upto₩n Boyband, Deadboyye Dre and Johnny Darko.


Photo Credit: Sarah Llewelyn

Among the opening acts was Upto₩n Boy Band. There’s three boys in this band, but just don’t call them N’Sync wannabes. Justin Trash, Joe Rascal, and Roclee are a cohort of rappers whose style runs the gamut. They’re out of hand onstage, spitting lines in English and Korean.

“Sammy (Roclee) and I met in high school. He went to Korea and learned production from G2’s people. When he came back to Toronto we recorded ‘Summer Man’ together. These days Kpop is huge, and they’re all boy bands. We’re the opposite of that. The name is satire,” says Joe.

Justin rounds out the trio.  He circled back to Toronto after living in the US for a spell. “I met (Roc and Joe) through a mutual friend. We clicked and wanted to do Uptown together. We’re not trying to be Kpop level, but we’ll get that Kpop money though,” he adds.


0V4A2658Photo Credit: Sarah Llewelyn


Photo Credit: Sarah Llewelyn


Photo Credit: Sarah Llewelyn

Artist Spotlight: Tamera Russell

Tamera Russell aka TRuss embraces Dijah Payne in a moment of pride.

 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.

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 an inside look:

$5 Rap Show 2017 Poster


Well that was certainly more rap than you can shake a stick at. If you’re in the Toronto-area and like oldschool, boombap, and 90s style hip hop, we would definitely recommend checking this out. The performers at the $5 Rap Show are often touring rappers, so having them at a intimate and local setting is quite a treat.

A little piece of Toronto history is that rap shows were often frowned down upon and so performers would have a hard time securing venues. Venue owners would often cite security reasons for not allowing rap shows at the venues. Now, Toronto has become one of the biggest exporters in musical talent in recent years.

The $5 Rap Show is exactly the place where you will find “undiscovered talent” and “hidden gems” from the local rap scene.

For more of our reviews of local rap shows, be sure to check our artist spotlight page:  

For more info on WordBurglar and Handsolo Records visit here.

Jay Electronica just declared war on the industry

It’s “fuck white people” apparently. After boasting about how he would “son” Kendrick and Kendrick wishes he could be him and that he would slap 50 cent, Jay Elect has rang out shots to the industry claiming that he should be considered the best. A lot of egos in hiphop recently with Kanye asking Zuckerberg for his patronage and Martin Shkrelli saying he got duped out his bitcoins.

Behind-the-Scenes- Episode Two


The idea of this episode occurred to me after listening to Mac Miller’s latest project,GO: OD AM. After being really impressed with Mac’s journey in music and the introspectiveness of his last record – I was let down.  Mac Miller has always had a druggy sound, even back on KIDS but back then he was just a teenage dirtbag stoner. Mac Miller has been very public about his drug use. When he talked about it on Movies with the Sound Off, it sounded like he matured and actually gave a shit about the damage done to him for years of hard drug use. Then he came out with his current album and it seemed liked he made a complete u-turn; coming out with a record that was celebrating excess consumption and materialism that just came off as vacuous.

And then it happened; as I was streaming an album on Spotify, I was struck by an ad for Canadian rapper K-OS’ new album, featuring a single with a video where he is rapping on a slow distorted beat, holding a styrofoam cup in hand amidst scantily clad women during a carnival.

I have my own thoughts on the video itself but the video struck a chord with me; because it like the album; once again highlighted how druggy and spaced out modern rap music has become. Not the rappers in particular but a lot of the production at least, I feel. I get that a lot of this emanates from the success of trap music – which originated in the American south.  And this to me ties in with popularization of lean.

While the American south may not have the same stature that it once did in hiphop in the early 2000s, it’s influence is certainly still there. Even west-coast artist Kendrick Lamar, uses these spacey sounds in his production despite not being druggy at all. So the question remains, can you be a contemporary rap artist and not talk about doing drugs and still be popular?

Was K-OS’ video a parody? Or was he conceding that this is what hiphop is now? I’ve linked the video below. Tell me your thoughts.