But first, what is House of PainT? It is a beautiful gathering of all four elements of hip hop under the Bronson street bridge. This bridge is one of the few places in town that contains legal graffiti walls. Their website gives a perfect description of the event: there are “writers covering concrete walls while DJs and MCs fill the air with beats & rhymes and bboys, bgirls an’ their crews throw down.” Yup, the tenth year of greatness kicked off on Wednesday September 11, although I was only able to make it out to the Friday and Saturday portion.
Friday was hip hop’s night, and who better to steal the show than Big Daddy Kane? The legendary, as smooth as can be, MC put on one hell of a show. He dug into his repertoire of killer 80s and 90s classics, dropping ”Smooth Operator,” “Raw,” “Ain’t No Half Steppin,” and “Warm it up.” But Kane is a rapper of the people, and was constantly chatting with the crowd and thanking them for keeping hip hop alive. He took things to the next level when he walked off the front of the stage and kept singing as he walked through the crowd shaking hands, posing for pictures and hugging fans. It was quite the sight.
After Big Daddy Kane was the man, the myth, and the legend, founder of the Zulu nation, Afrikaa Bambaataa spinning the night away with hip hop old and new. My favourite transition was “ABC” by Jackson Five to “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ E Z Rock, to “Ya’ll Gonna Make Me Lose My Mind” by DMX to Eminem’s ”Real Slim Shady.” He flowed it like nobody’s business.
Early on in the evening, the show was kicked off by Toronto’s Babylon Warchild. The five-piece hip hop band is heavy into politically-conscious, thought-provoking lyrics, but what really sets them apart is their live cello player. They were great, and dropping some sick lines like “Who do you worship, the master or the master card?” and sampled Wu-Tang’s “Bring the Ruckus” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It.” These boys have a lot of energy and a great sound, and I strongly recommend them to any hip hop lover.
After Babylon Warchild, it was time for some French rhymes. David ‘D-Track’ Dufour was surrounded by a great band. They had a keyboard player, a DJ, and drummer that they call Couette Love. D-Track laid down some great originals on us, such as “Occupons hivers” and “Pimp ton vélo.” They were great, but I was completely blown away by their version, a direct translation, of the classic jam “Just Friends.” They sang “Toi tu as tous ce que j’exige, mais tu me dis qu’on est juste des amis, tu me dis qu’on juste des amis.” Hype stuff.
Keeping the night going was Yassin “The Narcicyst” Alsalman, a Montreal-based MC, and vocalist Meryem Saci (Nomadic Massive). Saci opened the set singing a few of her tracks, setting the stage for The Narcicyst. Once on stage, The Narcicyst opened by rapping over A Tribe Called Red song. The duo later did this very cool song name “Haraga”, which I believe was completely in Arabic. You know a track is killer when you don’t understand a word but are still awestruck.
Before Big Daddy Kane was the Polaris-shortlisted artist Zaki Ibrahim. The Toronto-based vocalist delivered a good blend of R&B, soul, and jazz. My favourite song from her performance was “Something In The Water.”