A local rap group bounces back from a cancelled show with a fun, high-energy video.
Watching “The Rebels (Listen Up),” the new video by local rap duo The Antiheroes, it’s hard to imagine that the group would ever have had a concert of theirs cancelled due to security concerns. They just look too damn nice.
The Antiheroes and Rich Kidd, who produced the beat for “The Rebels,” were both scheduled to perform during SmashMouth Entertainment’s June 13 showcase, as part of the North by Northeast music festival. The Rivoli cancelled the show at the last minute, after members of the Toronto Police Service’s Guns and Gangs Unit approached management at the venue with security concerns. According to the Antiheroes’ MC Flex, the exact reasons for the cancellation are still a mystery.
“The Rebels,” which features a guest verse from local rap veteran D-Sisive, is a sort of response to the misconceptions about hip-hop culture that the group believes led to that incident. From the start, Flex and his partner-in-rhyme, Sha Prince, aimed to make a video that stood out.
“The concept was thrown around by the directors, Briin Bernstien and Daniel ‘AM’ Rosenberg,” Flex said. “They had a couple ideas they threw at us. They said, ‘We can either make the typical rap video, or you can go all out and try something different.’ We opted to go the different route…We owe a lot to them and the editor, Micah Rix-Hayes.”
According to Flex, going the different route wasn’t easy. The filming was done in one 15-hour day, and many of the moves that look so fluid in the video were the result of a lot of tedious work.
“The scenes you see with the zipping from front to back, that was actually just us shuffling our feet going from front to back and front to back,” he said. “You see the video, it looks pretty fluid. It wasn’t.”
Flex is still mystified by the North-by-Northeast cancellation. “That whole thing was unfortunate, not only for us as the artists, but for anyone who was planning to come out to the show,” he said. “We never really got any answers. There wasn’t any direct contact. The only word we got was that The Rivoli was responsible in the end for shutting it down, but I can say that the police put enough pressure on them to make that happen.”
He thinks there is a common misconception that hip-hop culture in Toronto is inherently negative.
“There’s no research done when it comes to these things,” he said. “Media likes to dwell on negative things, but they don’t look at artists like Rich Kidd who…are doing all these youth projects and things. People just want to say ‘Let’s lump all [the rappers] together and call it a day.’”
With a great video under their belt and the unpleasantness at The Rivoli behind them, The Antiheroes are taking the momentum from “The Rebels” and moving on to their next project.
“We have a new project coming out in late August or early September, called Modern Day Riot,” he said. “We’re working with Rich Kidd again, Junia-T from the Smash Brovaz and our own in-house producer M-Mac… We’re just trying to keep it moving.”
Previously, Micah Rix-Hayes’ name was written as “Micah Rix-Rayes.” The correction has been made above.