Friday March 9, Cherry Bomb presented Shell Toe, a 2-floor dance party and MC showcase held at Revival Bar on College Street West. The Yes Yes Y’all DJ’s, Cozmic Cat and Denise Benson, organize Cherry Bomb events in Toronto at least once a month, describing them as “a sexy, flirty and crazy fun club party for queer women and friends.” I can’t lie: that description had me prepared for a really crazy night, but as soon as I got there I totally loved the vibe. Cozmic and Denise spun a mix of top 40 infused electro-funk in between performances of six diverse emcees.
Lyracist, a 24 year old female hip-hop artist from Toronto rapped with a story-telling flow, while also singing her own hooks. When I asked her what she thought about rappers who also sing, she laughed, “Well someone has to do my hooks, right? I think it’s an essential component and as long as it’s not overdone I don’t see how you can criticize it.” Real talk.
T-illa, a female rapper born in Jamaica, raised in New York, and now living in Toronto, not surprisingly had an eccentric sound. Mixing her Foxy Brown-like voice over electrobeats, my favorite part of the night was when she grabbed a random dude from the crowd to booty pop on stage with her. The dude could out-dance me any day. Her fly outfit had me wondering, where does one get a sick full leather body suit with a zipper up the front? She filled me in later, but I’m sworn to secrecy.
I didn’t get a chance to talk to her, but MC Jazz performed some serious club bangers, but still kept it lyrical. She initiated the Queer Hip-Hop Movement in T.O. If you’ve never heard of her you need to YouTube her ASAP. Her spoken word poetry is dope.
Man Chyna brought queer hip-hop to a whole new level, rapping in his floor length leopard print fur jacket (faux I hope) and declaring Dolly Parton as his idol. The dude was pretty hilarious. NiLLa, another female Canadian hip-hop emcee had an old school, funky style of flow.
The vibe of the night was hype, and the crowd rocked with each performer, unlike the usual “I’m so not impressed” type of crowd you typically find at Toronto hip-hop showcases. Lyracist agreed, stating “It’s typically dog eats dog, but Cherry Bomb is awesome. The women that run it are amazing.”
Cozmic and Denise were nice enough to introduce me to several of the femcees after their performances. A day after International Women’s Day, it was only fitting that I got to interview an all-female line-up of rappers.
Saye Sky, a 22 year old Iranian rapper and and LGBTQ rights activist, delivered every bar entirely in her native tongue, Farci. I couldn’t understand anything she was saying, but somehow still picked up on the emotion of her songs. Like the event’s host said, “I don’t know what she was saying, but I liked it.” I got to talk to Saye after the show, and she explained: “The song I performed tonight was about laboured children. They have to work, they can’t go to school. It’s called Poor Houses and Wide Highways. It’s a paradox.” It was her first time performing the song, and she got the beat from Cozmic, who told her, “I don’t understand what you’re saying, but I think it’s good. Just go for it.”
If Nicki Minaj is the only female emcee you fuck with, it might be time to broaden your horizons. The two friends I brought to the event had never been to a Cherry Bomb event before, but they loved it.
The next event is on Saturday March 24 at Andy Poolhall. Queer or not, if you’ve never been to a Cherry Bomb event you’re definitely missing out on a goodtime. Reach!