Canadian Hip Hop. Michie Mee. Saukrates. Reign. BeastMode. #BigTicket

Canadian Hip Hop
Photo: Reign, Grouch, Saukrates

Without a breath of exaggeration, I must say that this concert was like nothing else I have ever experienced in my entire motherfucking life. Big Ticket just had a moment that will resonate for being one of the best Canadian hip hop concert moments all-time. OF ALL-TIME!

I have not written about it since, I have not tweeted about it, I have not instagrammed anything, I could NOT do anything but marvel in awe and joy and utter absolute eternal bliss, after that night with some of Canada’s iconic finest artists, and a whole shitload of alternate energy that proved that our hip hop scene is a sparkling jewel in the crowd of hip hop culture on planet earth in the new millennium.

So many positive words could be said, but I’ll reduce it to the essence of the excellence.

DJ Law obviously was the guy holding shit down on the musical tip, playing nothing but wall-slapping classics and good party chunes. That guy is one of the best disc jockeys in the industry, no doubt. He set up the show for Goliath Paw, a 5-piece rock-rap collective from Ottawa that had a frontman who might have been a little more eager than his talent. But what he lacked in lyrical content, he made up for in stage bravado, and his backing band was solid as hell delivering the groovy goods in a variety of ways. Strong performances of bubbling bass, crackling drumming, back-up harmonizing and precise DJing always can compensate for an MC that needs a bit more work, but it was at least a totally new idea.

Up next was the first-ever BeastMode Battle collaboration with #BigTicket, and I personally thought it was a success, albeit a touch unstructured. BeastMode Bosses Kriss Kain and Tekman held down the hosting and the documentation duties, as C Greezy and Mrsly4life took the initial pugilistic plunge. The crowd was unimpressed at first, as the MCs tried to battle in their normal element, ie. without microphones, but they were far from experienced enough to possess that depth of vocal strength to be heard without a microphone. So wisely, they were given mics to spit into, and the battle begun. It took a few different hits, misses, hard uppercuts and hilarious punchlines for it to get going, but by round 3, it was all good, and the crowd was digging it and cheering for the best bars these combatants delivered. While far from the most skilled battle, it did successfully show that there is room for modern-style battle rap in traditional concert arenas. And when C Greezy ended off the last bar of the battle with a hilariously scathing dis of a parting shot to both his opponent and the opening act GoliathPaw, the crowd went berzerk! Success.

Next up, esteemed #BigTicket host and legendary Toronto hip hop icon Dan-E-O presented the world premier of his brand new video, featuring Rich Kidd and SepTO, ‘Get Up On It’, which left a palpable impression of shock and silent awe at its striking fluorescent visual aesthetic shown in the Wrongbar dark club atmosphere. But, what happened next, will be remembered by my heart and soul until the end of days.

Canadian Hip Hop
Photo: Chris, Sauk, Dan-e-o, Mindbender, Michie Mee, Reign

Michie Mee, the Queen Mother Creator of Canadian Hip Hop, stepped on that stage, and delivered one of the most bloodclot life-changing performances of music, art, truth, power and beauty that I have ever seen in my entire existence! It wasn’t even a show, it was a SCHOOLING. Anyone on planet earth that might have forgotten what a SUPERSTAR looks and sounds like? Seek no further than Michie Mee, forever and always. Dressed in all-white jeans and crisp white with orange Reeboks and her hair all done up superfresh-like, Michie Mee was stepping out hotter than ever this year, and did all the damn things that this hip hop shit is about, and that these damn youth need to always remember if they want to last like three or four decades up in this vicious rap business like Michie has. Dropping one of her most powerful bombs right out the gate, Michie’s performance of “Slave” was perfect fire created by glorious passion. “And I’m not gonna cry victim!/ And I’m not going to blame the system!” Double time flow, sweetness soul, brutal bass and just eternal excellence was all to be heard and felt from Michie. She did it all, people. She rapped. She sung. She did spoken word type tings. She had one of the most humble, heartfelt monologues to the crowd that I have ever heard in my life. She said beautiful words to the effect of: “I just want to thank you all for allowing me to continue to perform with you all. I’m honored to share the stage with the new generation of artists, and I just want to do my thing for the culture, because it’s in my blood to do this, for both the ladies and the men. Thank you for letting me live my dreams…” and it was nothing but true beauty. People were saluting Michie Mee from the crowd, licking shots and clapping and cheering like I have rarely seen. The respect and love for the Queen Michie Mee that was evident in the air there brought tears to my eyes, that’s word to everything I worship in this life. MIchie was funny, powerful, sharp, clever, and beautiful. She rocked her modern dancehall smasher “Bad Gyal Bubble”, “Stand Right Beside Him”, her JD Era featured banger, the all-time jamdown ting “Jamaican Funk” and some other crispness. And almost seemingly by accident, some Raggadeath rawness came tumbling out the speaker, and Michie fucking mashed up that dirty rock guitar riddim, too! There is NOTHING she can’t do!

Honestly, I have never been so proud, happy, and inspired to be a Canadian musician, after seeing the timeless example set by Michie Mee that night. To everyone who was lucky enough to be there on that night, you feel me. You dun know you will remember that show until all your memories go! Maaan… they just don’t make MCs like they used to. If only they still made them like Michie Mee… then hip hop would be just fine. Mindbender loves you, Michie!!!

Next, King Reign came through (what was left of) the spot, and rocked a short but sweet set of all new material for his upcoming album. He was impressively confident, comedically interactive (even going as far as asking the crowd if they liked certain performed songs enough to keep on the upcoming record… how nice of him), and refreshingly OG enough to never give the impression that he was trying to be anything but King Righteous Energy In God’s Nature, and nobody else in Canada or America. These days, I feel like I have to go out of my way to acknowledge the few rappers who remember to stay true to themselves! It was great to hear Reign rock his new single ‘Killer’ and even bring along DJ Grouch for a live scratching session of ODB’s ‘psycho! killaaaaaa! Norman Bates!’ sample. Overall, a nice show for sure, but he could have chosen his words a bit more wisely when he referred to Michie Mee’s previous obliteration of the stage he had to rock next. She will always be a hard act to follow. But Reign did the best any real MC could, which set the show up for Bigg Soxx.

Before that, we were lucky enough to get blessed with another video: Choclair’s new joint, featuring Bishop Brigante and Darryl Riley. Shit was refreshingly new, shit was inspiringly dope, and shit was unquestionably Scarborough, son. What?! I don’t know if they filmed some of the video near the Bluffs, but it was fuckin’ sick, both the visual treatment and the song itself. It was nice to hear Choclair reinvigorated and back on the microphone again!

Then, it was time for the last performer: Saukrates. One of Canada’s first superstars of the 90’s, one of the most unmistakable voices of our generation, and one of the most  talented Canadian musicians ever to pick up an instrument and do something funky with it, Big Sock-It-To-Em came correct as a motherfucker in almost every moment he offered to share with his Toronto hip hop family that night. If you know your Canadian hip hop history, you were in fucking paradise when Sauks got up there and rocked. It was mostly just a wonderful excursion down memory lane, where beautiful classics like “Father Time” and “Hate Runs Deep” (with requisite shoutout to MarveL {but it would have been even more amazing to hear Marvel actually perform that eternal jem with Sauks}) blessed the ears and the heart so joyfully. You aren’t Canadian hip hop if you don’t love these Saukrates songs, I’m sorry, that’s just how I feel, don’t take it personal, ha ha. And then the bliss just continued. “Comin’ Up” felt as funky fresh and fluid as always, and even though it seemed like Sauks forgot the lyrics to it for a second, after telling the DJ to wheel and come again, he came correct the second time ’round. He had the people rocking along the hook with all their T Dot soul and joy, like “all you can do is sing your song…” What else did we hear? “Wednesday”. “Ayo”. “Money or Love”. Even some Big Black Lincoln numbers made their way in there, including “Pimpin Life”. Then it was time to bring it all home… and how was he going to do that? With “On The Run”.

That twisted, wicked vocal sample came thundering in like “hustlers, grab your guns…” and the fucking crowd lost whatever little mind they had left, as Saukrates gave us the ORIGINAL version, his own one that he gracious lent to K-Os for “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman”. Those pianos, the bassline, the Rich Kidd magic creativity in general… holy shit is that song ever a timeless hit if there was one. I love that jam forever! And Saukrates rocked his OG hook, his abstractly awesome lyrics, and the hook again a few times for good measure, while the crowd sung along ecstatically… “I can’t really make you love me… eh eh, oh no/ I can’t really make you love me!!” The anthem for hip hop in Toronto if there ever was one. Well, this song was the perfect grand finale to an amazing Saukrates performance, that reminded us all that he’s still got it, he’s still an OG veteran legend, and that we always need to hear more Saukrates music, no matter what! Don’t play with our emotions and make us wait as long for Season Two as you made us wait for Season One, Bigg Soxx!! Can’t leave rap alone, the game needs you… even if you show up late! Ha ha. Saukrates was everything one could ask for in a performer, and it was the best #BigTicket night I have ever experienced…

Thank you to Chris Jackson, DJ Law, #BeastModeBattles, Michie Mee, Saukrates, King Reign, G5 Canadian Urban, Gina Simone, Trica Carey, Thom Payson, Ashley Gill, Victoria Charko, and all the people who attended this all-time classic event and made it the wonderful family gathering it was… thank you from the bottom of my hip hop heart.

I shed tears of joy for the incredible hip hop dream we have created together… and it all started because of Queen Michie Mee. Peace to #BigTicket, that Maestro show is going to be crazy!


Mindbender Loves You, Toronto.


JD Era ft Cameo – “Candy” (Remix)








(Meh, let’s break the rules. I have to give a little detail to this homie’s impressive project. Check it: The 3rd solo project from Toronto’s Slang Hugh. With a background theme of Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues, the jazzy sounds, blues lyrics over the hip hop soundtrack. This is an grown man look at emotions, dreams, life and the constant struggle with in us all to embrace maturity while keeping our child like spirit and how we deal with that. All produced by long time collaborator SPSnooze, this is “MO’ BETTER HUGHES”.)


Oh, I went to his show, too! Here’s a review:



A nice little gathering at a special, secret location down Danforth East, this night had assembled a near-capacity crowd of grown and sexy Toronto soul afficianados, journalists and artists, all eager to hear the newest artist on the blossoming local scene, Pluto. After a few hours of modern hip hop and R&B mixed with a healthy serving of free Appleton’s rum and vodka for the awaiting audience, Pluto eventually got in front of a few electronic instruments and got the show started. A little nervous at first, this  young 19-year-old felt the crowd and stage out, then opened up his heart and soul. A short but powerful performance ranging from futuristic, sharply-produced sultry slow jams to bass-blessed ballads (courtesy of MaticMusicNow Production Group), and the low-key piano-based lead track ‘Jessica’, had the crowd satisfied and engaged. The intimate environment was a plus, and though the music will be heard by some to have comparisons to The Weeknd, the kid still has a nice voice in his throat, with potential and range beyond his years. Similar to Abel, he also may need a little more time to get used to the spotlight, but watching an artist evolve into their next levels is half the fun of enjoying an artist’s career! How far will Pluto go? This show was a good sign he may take it as far as his namesake.


There is no reason why it shouldn’t be the best ever!



Addi “Mindbender” Stewart