Some of the biggest names and talents at this year’s CMW are hip-hop artists. As well as the marquee names, there are plenty of other notable local emcees and groups performing, and some international artists that also warrant attention.
Here are some of the hip-hop acts that can be expected to make their mark at the festival.
Wednesday, May 7, 11 p.m.
The Opera House (735 Queen Street East)
The rise of Houston rapper and producer Travi$ Scott over the last few years has been meteoric. Making beats from the age of 16, he moved to Los Angeles after quitting college and quickly impressed the likes of T.I. and Kanye West. Regarded now by many as Kanye’s protégé, he released his first mixtape, Owl Pharaoh—featuring the single “Upper Echelon” (which produced a pretty impressive self-directed video, included above)—around this time last year. If his recent appearance at SXSW is any indication, expect a performance bordering on the chaotic and involving some songs from his upcoming album, Rodeo.
Thursday, May 8, 10 p.m.
Baltic Avenue (875 Bloor Street West)
Because a lot of British hip hop doesn’t often make it overseas to North American airwaves, it’s nice that CMW has devoted a night to U.K. artists like Ghetts and Little Simz. Coming up in the English grime scene, Ghetts was known as Ghetto and performed in collectives before striking out on his own. He made a bunch of mixtapes over the years and finally released a debut album, Rebel With a Cause, in March. His live shows are typically energetic affairs filled with torrents of deft wordplay, and he has covered Drake before, so there’s always a chance he’ll break that out while in town.
Thursday, May 8, midnight
Tattoo (567 Queen Street West)
With Canadian hip hop well represented at the fest, you’ll find both veterans of the game like Kardinal Offishal and Swollen Members and relative newcomers like ShaqIsDope, Sean Leon, and Roney. Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum is Rich Kidd, who has produced songs for Drake, Busta Rhymes, and k-os while annually releasing a series of mixtapes called We kn Some Rich Kidd Shit, which has now reached seven volumes. His 2012 album, The Closers, with Vancouver emcee SonReal, was nominated for a Juno, and last year’s new mixtape My Opinion only whet the appetite for the proper follow-up that’s being recorded and mixed by Jay Z’s engineer, Young Guru. Kidd will be performing at the fest as part of Naturally Born Strangers, his group with Tona and Adam Bomb, and will be taking part in a beat-making class presented by SOCAN.
Friday, May 9, 11 p.m.
Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne Street)
Part of a “Beast Coast” movement that also includes Joey Bada$$, this Brooklyn group first made a splash with “Thug Waffle” and their appearance on the ASAP Mob song “Bath Salt.” They’ve released a wealth of material since then, including a recent “Day of the Dead” series of tracks, and established a reputation for tight and technically proficient live performances. They’ll be sharing a bill with fellow New Yorker and sometime collaborator Bodega Bamz, making this one of the most promising nights of hip hop at the festival.
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