Hip Hop has come a long way since the 80s. Often times, people complain that things have changed for the worse and that mainstream rap is a blight on the music world. To these people, I always say the same thing: take a little stroll into your local underground scene and I guarantee you’ll find a young artist struggling to keep his belly full, yet all the while sharing his art with whoever wants to listen. These are the people who warrant your attention, these are the artists who truly play from the heart, and these are the artists that I saw live at La Vitrola.
First on the stage was rap duo Overnight Celebrity featuring Ashton Chase and Matt Yonge. From hometown Montreal, QC they mixed traditional hip hop with some alternative sounds to share with the crowd melodies unique to them. Both MCs had slick vocals and were perfectly in tune with each other. Their harmonies were what made the act good, like on songs such as “Last Sunday” and “Ghosts.” The DJ behind the scenes was tight with the vocal effects, which had full control of. There wasn’t much mixing going on, as most of the music was pre-recorded and I’m also sure some of their vocals were pre-recorded. Nonetheless, the duo had a solid act and presented it with professionalism.
Not too long after, the MISCELLANIUM army stormed the stage. There wasn’t enough stage, nor enough crowd to do these guys justice. Their energy was overwhelming, hardly giving the crowd a moment to rest. They had a more aggressive sound with each MC rapping with an individual flow, yet they all had in common their undeniable “in your face” attitude. The fact that they had a rotation of artist on stage kept things alive and even if one member had no microphone in his hand, he acted as a motivator, inciting the crowd to jump up and dance. From the moment they walked on stage, MISCELLANIUM grabbed the audience and never let go. They took us through different beats and flows, all the while keeping the crowd on the edge, wondering which MC would take the mic and sing next. Songs like “Trails” had memorable beats, with hooks that hooked you (see what I did there?).
Similar to the artists before him, Aaron Cohen deserved a much bigger crowd and a longer set. From the get-go, I could tell he wasn’t satisfied seeing people standing in the back. From the moment he grabbed the mic, his words pulled the people towards to stage, including me. Like the first act, his choruses were pre-recorded with his beats, which felt awkward at times. It might just be how things are in the hip hop scene, but coming from a scene where everything you hear comes from a voice or an instrument, I felt disconnected at times. But it was a minor problem, one that only I seemed to care about. We all raised our middle fingers in the air for “New York,” a song about his hometown. He was a one-man army, commanding the crowd with his voice and when he wasn’t satisfied, he jumped off stage and into the crowd. Songs like “Bloodshot” and “Stanley Kubrick” hyped the crowd, with Aaron rapping with immense speed and fluidity.
The night was over and the remaining fans dispersed. I stood there for a moment and took in what I had seen. I haven’t been to many rap shows, but this one was memorable. These artists came out and blew the roof off La Vitrola, even with a smaller crowd. It didn’t matter to them, they were here to conquer and they did just that.
Written by Johnathan Robinson
*edited by Danielle Kenedy