“Uhhh, it’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a zombie! Hahahaha!” blasted from this kid’s iPhone as a small group of us waited outside of Wrongbar to see the Flatbush Zombies perform, along with Smoke DZA and other acts from the He Has Risen Tour.
“The highest high I’m ayatollah,” once again on repeat.
All I could think was that I hope “Bath Salt” isn’t the only Zombies track he knows. After all, they not only have a strong following, but also some very dope tracks before the A$AP Rocky/A$AP Ant collabo. I feel like right now Flatbush Zombies are at a very special point in their career, one where they have enough recognition and clout to to get co-signs from the heavyweights and a continual growing fanbase, yet they haven’t entered the mainstream media sphere yet. The fact that they were going to perform in an intimate venue such as Wrongbar (which I doubt has a capacity of more than 200 people) got me super stoked because no matter how their career takes off, I’d always have this special show to recollect.
As expected, the show started off fairly soon after the doors opened considering the fact that it was a Tuesday night and Toronto is known for low attendance on a weeknight. The show started with Toronto’s very own Jimmy B who took the stage (or platform should I say. It was about 2ft high), but unfortunately I’m unfamiliar with his music so I can only comment on his performance. Jimmy has that rambunctious, youthful energy that can only come from a burning desire to put on a dope show regardless of whether there’s 22 people in the room or just a bartender. He sat on the edge of the stage as members of the audience joined him. After finishing his set, he exited by simply hopping off the stage and shaking hands with any and every audience member that wanted to.
Follwing Jimmy, a brief gap was filled by Toronto’s lovely DJ OhSo who dropped tracks on the 1’s and 2’s. Now, in a room full of Gen Z, the music will ultimately cater to Gen Z’s taste. She spins a little Kendrick, a little bit of Rocky and the whole audience knows the words. Once OhSo put on Tupac’s “Ambitionz Az A Ridah”, everyone either suddenly becames lost or forgot how to speak English. This is the same group of people who’ll go around claiming that Pac is still alive and reblog his image a hundred times over on Tumblr, yet don’t know the words to one of his most esteemed classics. For shame, Gen Z.
Moving along, The Come Up from Pittsburg were up next followed by local duo the Antiheroes who performed “Listen Up,” produced by Rich Kidd, alongside a couple other joints. There was another round of waiting while a new DJ came on stage to spin. This time around though, not only do we get to hear “C.R.E.A.M.” but also “Triumph” (a sort of anthem for Bad Perm, after all).
As “Clique” starts blasting through the speakers, this large, bald man with a massive beard came on stage. I have to blink. Holy sh*t I thought to myself, it’s Rick Ross! But it’s not, it’s actually Cali rapper Big C who yes, does resemble Rawse the Bawse in appearance but has about 10 times more personality and stage presence. He came on stage with a tank top that reads “I’m the sexiest ni**a on earth.” Big C sees me on the side of the side with my camera and he stopped to pose while I snap away. Do you know how much that means? Half the time artists bounce around stage all crazy and then I have to sift through hundreds of photographs where they look like they’re having a seizure just so I can find a flattering image. Anyways, Big C is kind of being a hype man of sorts for whatever G.O.O.D. Music song comes on (“Clique,” “Mercy”, etc). He’s joined on stage by Pheo, Speak and Cashius Green. Strangely, Speak is a rapper but…he didn’t really spit any bars. But his energy level is crazy, something like a drug induced, chemically imbalanced crazy. He has this long, full-bodied head of hair (jealous!) which he shakes so furiously I worried that his neck might get dislocated. Even when bending down to tie his sneakers, his head bobbed so violently that punk rockers get put to shame. As he neared my end of the stage, the stage lights follow him and he starts spitting some bars to me. It was something about a cheerleader (a song is about falling in love? More like Adderall inspired lust coma). I’m scared and embarrassed and I slowly slink down to the floor wishing the ground would swallow me whole. Thanks Speak. As he begins to gyrate on the floor, I finally manage to snap the clearest photo I possible could of this human Tasmanian devil.
Pheo and Cashius aren’t any less energetic. Pheo paces the stage dropping rhymes so hard I see neck veins popping but there’s something about Cashius Green that I feel steals the show. He’s that guy in high school that you find yourself weirdly attracted to even though you know better. He’s dressed in a sky-diving suit because he’s “high as f**k” and as the top portion of the unitard comes off, the bottom part too, is in danger of sliding off his lanky frame (no complaints here though). He has a tiny grey stone dermal punched onto his cheekbone beneath his eye, which he keeps rolling back into his head. He put on a wolf mask but due to the overwhelming heat, he quickly took it off. “Ugh, I feel like I just ate wolf pu**y,” he says as some hairs from the mask get stuck to his tongue. I can’t lie, I find this all very amusing and slightly endearing. Just as Cashius begins to lose his balance from bouncing around on stage, I see three familiar faces lingering in the corner. It’s Erick Arc Elliott, Meech and Juice.
They slowly make their way on stage, making sure to shake every, and I mean every hand that reaches out to them. They all have spliffs (or blunts, once again, hell if I know the difference) hanging out their mouths. Then our national anthem comes on: “Oh, Canada, our home and native land…,” the Zombies don’t sing though. They just take long ass drags off kush. “True, patriot love, in all our songs command…,” everyone sings, their hands placed gingerly over their hearts. During election season, you can’t get people to care less about the political climate but get some kush in the mix and suddenly everybody’s a nationalist.
“Now the French version!” A (probably Francophone) audience member yelled out.
“Oui, oui, oui,” replied Juice. “Naw, I don’t speak French.”
The Zombies go on to peform “Face Off (L.S. Darko),” “Young, Black & Arrogant,” and “S.C.O.S.A.”
Meech promptly tells the audience that he’s high on acid. “I heard y’all don’t have that here so I snuck it, because I’m an outlaw!” and according to Killer Mike, an outlaw is ultimately the freest thing you can be.
At this point, there’s a mosh pit happening in the middle of the floor and I don’t mean just any regular mosh pit….people are being pushed to and fro, bent over across the stage in what looks like a sea of overzealous, post-teen spirit gone demonically possessed young men. Meech decides to crowd surf and by the looks of it, it doesn’t seem too pleasant. People are just way too rowdy. I think, and I cannot confirm but once again, I think that Juice jumped into the crowd and landed on the floor. Way to go Toronto! This is an artist with a discerning musical genius and you can’t just drop people all willy-nilly to the floor like you have no upper body strength.
After climbing back up on stage, the audience starts to get restless to hear what is perhaps their two best known singles, “Thug Waffle” and “Bath Salt.” “Thug Waffle” comes on and then they leave the stage for what appears to be the end of their set. However, a few seconds in Meech climbs back on stage. He starts testing the mics, (which I should have mentioned earlier are problematic throughout the night). Three mics he had to test out. Seriously? I love the good folks at Wrongbar and all but artists shouldn’t be doing impromptu equipment checks in the middle of their set.
Anyways, Meech finally decides on a mic and Juice and Erick join him back on stage to perform the first two verses of “Bath Salt.” Once again they shake people’s hands as they part ways with the stage. Meech extends his arm to me and I try to mouth the words “Sorry about the flash,” since I noticed he kept ducking it every time he saw my camera about to go off. As they exit for Smoke DZA to come on, I see them chilling at the side amongst audience members, smiling, talking, sharing spliffs. No pretention. No attitude. Just a very laid back, down-to-earth demeanour that’s so refreshing to see.
By the time Smokey comes on stage, I don’t know man. I feel weird. I think I may have inhaled too much second-hand kush smoke because I’m hungry as hell and according to my friend, I sounded pretty fragmented in my conversation through the phone. DZA’s joined on stage by three other dudes. I’m thinking they were his friends because aside from contributing a few ad-libs and dropping a couple bars, they didn’t really perform any songs. DZA did, however, perform “New Jack,” “Continental Kush Breakfast,” “2AM Monday Night,” “Loaded” and “The World.” He told us about his new mixtape, K.O.N.Y. that has since dropped and like many amazed rappers before him, commented on the quality of our homegrown bud. The last time I saw DZA perform, it was at the Opera House, a much larger venue however tonight, like the acts before him, he got intimate with the audience. He stepped off stage into the crowd to sign autographs, take pictures and give a few pretty women a friendly hug. Both audience members and performing acts ended up exiting the front door in unison. It was pretty much the most harmonious show I’ve ever been to.
As I sat in a bus shelter waiting to catch the last ride home, I saw Juice, Erick and Meech walking down the street until they reached the front door of their hotel. Just like that. The people’s champions. The sh*t urban folklore is made of.
Check out our dope gallery, shot by yours truly for accompanying visuals. A special thank you to homies at SmashMouth Entertainment for the media passes.
Did you have as epic a time as I did? Let me know, I’m always here @TheWomansWork