Written By | Joshua Habtwold
Edmonton-based rapper Cadence Weapon came to Toronto as his last tour date for his North American tour, as anticipated from his latest self-titled release, and performed at the Velvet Underground to provide a small, intimate set. When I arrived at the venue, the crowd build-up from the lineup started out small, but began to rise up once the doors opened. When I went inside the venue, Toronto-based DJ JAYEMKAYEM started off spinning a variety of songs in each sub-genre. She would spin off certain ones from grime to trap music, and from Afrobeats to 2000’s hip-hop, which set off a relaxing tone for the vibe. The merchandise seemed decent enough for a typical rap show, and the lighting palette in the venue seemed dark yet vibrant enough to bring a good vibe.
Once some people came to the venue, Montreal-based rapper Hua Li came on stage with her producer as her DJ for her entire set. When she came out, she came with a blue yukata robe and started off with a sultry voice when she sings, but brings an interesting, nonchalant drawl in her voice when she raps, and brings an amazing cadence with her voice.
Throughout her set, she brings some interesting facial expressions throughout her songs and has some vibrant energy during a variety of songs in her set. One interesting thing that happened during her set was that she spoke to the crowd about her experience in the Canadian music industry, and how she was in a situation, where she was speaking in a panel and shared that panel with a person who was friends with her ex-boyfriend, who abused her 10 years ago. She then spoke further of the issue of abuse and managed to express it, in one of her last songs entitled “This Chaos.”
After her set, Houston-based rapper Fat Tony, who has collaborated with the likes of A$AP Rocky and Das Racist, came with no DJ, since he was his own DJ. In the beginning, he provided a variety of mixes and played certain songs, such as Panic at the Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” He was also wearing a Danny Brown merch t-shirt, which symbolizes the cover from his album, XXX, signifying his love for the underground rap scene.
Fat Tony did a variety of things to solidify the energy of his set, such as lighting a weed bud during the beginning of his set, using autotune for a variety of his songs, and bringing multiple styles in his craft, such as slow and high-tempo country to high-tempo emo rock. He talked about a variety of topics in his songs, from his love of Brooklyn and the culture of New York (“BKNY”) to the whole aspect of gentrification and its effects (“Hood Party”), which seemed quite interesting for the aspect of the show. At the end of his set, he brought over the headlining act, Cadence Weapon, to perform their collaborative track “Poet Laureate” together. In the end, it got the crowd going and I seemed to enjoy that performance as well.
Once the crowd got bigger and the energy started to increase more, Cadence Weapon came to the stage, with the first opener Hua Li spinning his set. He started off by performing some cult classics from his previous albums, such as Breaking Kayfabe and
musicians, and so forth) enjoyed the energy he presented onto the crowd and used his vocals to bring certain unique noises while rapping very well.
Throughout his set, Cadence brought a plethora of stellar production from his beats, which a couple of tracks from his new self-titled album, were produced by Montreal-based producer Jacques Greene. As the crowd got bigger and the energy from them became astonishing, he managed to bring his topics on a serious note when he performed his Jacques Greene- produced track “High Rise”, which mainly talked about his experience living in Toronto and how it became gentrified through the increase of its condos and so forth. Overall, the show was quite an interesting impact for Canadian rap music and it was quite informative to know that the themes of gentrification and rave culture play a big role in this tour.