House of PainT’s Rock Tha House Concert and Popping Battle was held on Friday September 5th at Brewer Park in Ottawa, ON. The festival had set up under the Dunbar underpass and was split into two main sections. The Seeds Tent held preliminaries for the popping battle and the main stage was held under the bridge.
The main stage was hosted by Mic Check of Nine Planets and DJed by DJ 2 Creamz of CKCU’s The Mix. The underpass wall was being painted live by a group of artists, and had scaffolding set up next to it.
The night’s performances started with Ottawa’s own Rita Carter, accompanied on stage by Aspects of Bloclawz and Good Guy Pictures. Delivering a headline-worthy performance, Rita seamlessly blended hip-hop and RnB influences in both style and content. Rita and Aspects performed their recent collaboration “K2AD (Kiss To All The Daddies)” featuring Dynamic, Missy B, & Yetti. Aspects also performed a song off he’s recently released collaboration album with German production duo Snowgoons, available here.
Next up was Montreal visual artist, rapper and performer Monk-E. Un vrai rapper bilingue, Monk-E came straight of the gate with full force. Freestyling effortlessly, Monk-E covered many topics, from the political to the spiritual to the everyday. His ability to deliver machine-gun speed vocals in both French and English is a rarity, especially when combined with his distinct ability to freestyle bilingually. My personal favourite track was the song “Cocacolanisation”, which I highly recommend. The track is available online as part of a mix by deejay Jul for Hip Hop Café (it plays at 19:03). Monk-E was also one of the artists working on the new murals under the Dunbar Bridge.
Rich Kidd is a producer, rapper, and videographer from Toronto. Having produced nearly his entire catalogue and as well as for artists such as Drake, Shad, and K-OS, Rich is no stranger to the Canadian music scene. Rich is a polished performer and stops at nothing to get the crowd going. Everyone deserves to hear the song “SYKE” played live over a powerful PA. Rich’s sound is distinctly modern while mixing traditional hip-hop music with Toronto’s current style.
Taking the stage draped in black robes, Orange County, New York’s Doppelgangaz hit the stage with a sound reminiscent of mid 90s New York. The duo, consisting rapper/producers Matter Ov Fact and EP, and accompanied by Big John, blend medieval and nomadic undertones with a vintage east coast sound. Performing songs primarily off of their Hark! and Peace Kehd albums, the duo spent plenty of time interacting with the crowd.
Penultimate performer for the evening, New York’s Jean Grae took the stage to a still clear night. Only a few songs into her set, the night’s previous rainstorm returned. Despite continuing to perform through the rain, which was being blown across the stage, the concert had to be postponed for a few minutes until the storm calmed down. Everyone was instructed to gather under the bridge. What happened next was probably the key moment in a great night of music. The crowd, now all huddled under the Dunbar Bridge, began clapping and stomping and a spontaneous dance circle erupted. Cheering with each thunderclap, the mass partied while water from the bridge runoff pipe rained over them. The crowd even ended up creating their own rendition of “Whoomp There It Is.” After about 15 minutes the concert was able to start up again, and Jean Grae started her set back up. She is a veteran performer and has the ability to command the crowd with ease. Before ending her set, Jean asked the crowd to split in two. She then lead a Soul Train line that ended in a literal dance party.
Headlining the night, eMC is composed of rappers Masta Ace, Punchline, Wordsworth, and Stricklin. A perfectly choreographed group, eMC never missed a beat all night. Each of the four members of eMC are able more than capable of handling an entire concert on their own, so to say that when combined they deliver something greater than the sum of its parts would be an understatement. Every song performed has a planned performance, even when it may seem like they are just taking turns rapping. The music isn’t reminiscent of 90s era rap music, it is 90s era rap music. That is, 90s era rap music that has survived the test of time and evolved alongside modern hip-hop. My personal favourite moment of their set was the song “eMC (What It Stand For).”
The main stage Bboy battle was hosted by MC Mariano and judged by Frank Boogie. The DJ for the popping portion of the night was Ottawa’s DJ Jervy Jerv. Playing a host of classic break beats of various styles, Jervy Jerv kept the music diverse and entertaining all night. The popping battles were all very close, with poppers Jinky and Lord making it to the finals to be held the next day.
The Rock Tha House Concert and Popping Battle was a great night of music, dance, community, and perseverance. The weather did nothing but energize the crowd, and that energy was powerful. The greatest concerts are the ones where no one wants the night to end, and it was clear that night that everyone just wanted to have fun. Celebrate, elevate!