When it comes to Toronto, we’re a city still struggling to find our real identity beyond being ‘The Screwface Capital’ which a lot of people like to dismiss now, because we’re better than that, but for people who have been around the bend for the long haul, it’s still the Screwface, and there’s not a lot that will change that notion. Clothing lines, rappers, hustlers of some sort, and hypebeast followers are very common in Toronto, but more often than not, not a lot of them standout because so many people are trying to have their own things and not enough customers to service to. There are a lot of brands that I like in the city, and I support, but one that stands out is definitely Legends League, because this brand has stood the test of time through adversity, and how it has grown in a matter of years has been phenomenal. Brands come and go, but where LL has succeeded has been originality, innovation, and continued persistence in bringing the best quality product to the people, and the people have definitely responded in making them one of the most popular brands to come out of the city. I’m not that familiar with Bryan (the creator), but I definitely respect his hustle to create a brand to the point where he’s a sponsor for a rap show; that’s where the 2nd dose of issues lay in the city.
To be a rapper in Toronto, you’re constantly faced with adversity, because given the fact that the city is so close to the border, and the fact that the American influence does have a lingering effect on what we like, it’s often difficult to grasp the sound of our city (well, at least now it is). We don’t have many that have come out of the city, and often times, rappers who get big in the city tend to just stay…in the city, and that’s as far as their success goes. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the same story that many people have seen for so long. Why is that? Some people just don’t have the heart to make it in a larger way outside of Canada. We’re the 2nd largest country in land mass, but we’re nothing more than a small country in population, which means that it’s a small market. There’s room for buzz and exposure, but it’s not the place to create yourself in a broad way for the world to see. You have to get out there, but having the hometown back you up is always important and fundamental in giving you confidence for the road ahead.
Not many rappers can say that they have the confidence to go out into the world on a large scale, but with the dynamics that NBS (Natural Born Strangers) brings to the table, anything is possible and on a cold (not Polar Vortex like) Friday night, the support that I witnessed was unlike anything I’d seen for a Toronto rap show in my life. Rich Kidd, Tona, and Adam Bomb bring all things Toronto into one group as they took the stage in front of a packed Mod Club in the heart of the city with the who’s who of known local faces in attendance for a promising and entertaining night to behold. Usually, hip hop shows for local acts to gain a large turnout, but this event had so much promotional backing, I was so happy to see people out, even if a lot of them weren’t all exactly there for the performers themselves (if I can just keep it real for a second). With flashing images of Rob Ford, the infamous G20 summit riots of 2010, and other striking video to compliment the groups’ songs throughout every song, the energy never left a high level. Going through their album’s tracks like: Jameson Ave, No One Knows My Struggle, The End, and A Gun & A Pack of Sandwiches to name a few, Rich Kidd even (after a botched attempt) crowd surfed for about a minute or so, which was cool, and as routine, he stepped into the crowd as he spit a verse. That didn’t even measure up to the encore when all of the guys performed solo tracks, with Rich performing his hit SYKE to end the show and send the people home on a great vibe. Water tossing, (plastic) bottle throwing, and arm flexing was in full effect, and it was a lot of fun for those who were in attendance, including myself. What was also great was that everyone received a physical copy of the album as part of their ticket purchase – smart.
I don’t know if this is a sign of good things to come for local acts in Toronto, or if it’s just the case of certain individuals just having the right people back for them to churn out the turn out that they had, but I’m always hoping for the best with the artists who actually strive to be great not just in the city, but beyond. Through having a discussion with friends after the show, we came down to the conclusion that events like these are possible, but people need to get off their asses and make it happen by meeting the right people in order to gain the right exposure. We’re the city that holds an ‘almost, but not quite there yet’ mentality, but eventually, an artist who was at that show walked out of there saying ‘I want this for myself’, and I would hope that they’d be planning to make it happen for themselves. Only time will tell, but for now, we’ll just reflect on what was, and hope that it becomes a constant thing. Until the next show,
That’s My Word & It STiXX