This Thursday marks the premiere of Toronto’s Hip-Hop Karaoke night. Brought to you by Never Forgive Action and Earwaks, and hosted by local rapper More or Les (who was interviewed by Torontoist last spring) and local DJs Dalia, Numeric and Ted Dancin’, this party promises to be more than your basic karaoke night. First of all, it’s hip-hop, so you may want to practice ahead of time or do the track you’ve known since you were in Grade 6. Secondly, the DJs will be spinning live instrumentals under your rhymes, so there will be no cheesy MIDI track playing or words that highlight as you go (This means you have to know your song really well!). Thirdly, it’s all rap all night long, so no one will be singing Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”
The organizers had the idea independently, but other Hip-Hop Karaoke nights run successfully all over the world. More or Les says DJ Dalia and the others hammered down the logistics of the night with advice from event organizers in other cities. It must run smoothly, because Big Daddy Kane showed up at Hip-Hop Karaoke New York. If we cross our fingers, maybe Maestro Fresh Wes will make an appearance and do “Let Your Backbone Slide.”
With a choice of more than 200 songs, participants sign up for the song they want on a first-come first-serve basis. You get a print-out with the words to your song, and when you’re called up on stage, you blow the audience away. So easy. And in case you’re wondering, the n-word has been edited out of lyrics sheets, and will be replaced with ‘brother,’ while some recommend using ‘ninja’ or ‘neighbour’ to eliminate racial discomfort at the night.
Sound intimidating? More or Les (a.k.a. Les Seaforth) emphasizes that the party is first and foremost for a good time, not to show off. “We just want everybody to feel relaxed, and we want this to be fun. It’s not a talent show, it’s a party.” If things go well, More or Les says the night will run once a month.
The folks at Hip-Hop Karaoke Toronto remind you to sign up at 9:00 pm, and the show starts at 10:00 pm. $5 at The Boat this Thursday, Februrary 15.