Just like Jay-Z “Invited us to something epic” on ‘Can I Live’ off his Reasonable Doubt album, Moe Naaman, Founder of Masika International Development, invited me to something epic this month; The Can I Live Showcase. Returning from a writing hiatus, I was excited to not only attend this event, but also to report on the amazing things Moe et al have been doing for the past few months. The ‘Can I Live?’ Organization sells various types of merchandise and hosts’ music showcases in hopes of raising cancer awareness. The case of a 19-year-old patient diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, stirred the cause and prompted the organizing team to save this boys life. A staggering $200 000 is needed to perform an array of surgeries over the course of 3 years to save the 19-year-old. Through the ‘Can I Live?’ Showcases, Moe Naaman and his team have raised money and awareness while simultaneously giving artists a platform to grow. The Showcase, which has included artists like Erik Flowchild and 3- Card in the past, truly conveys the social significance of Hip-Hop culture. Without the community these showcases would be possible says Naaman, “They are the reason we have been able to put this show on for the third time and raise money”. Speaking to Naaman and the by standing attendees left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. We were all there to support a great cause, make some new friends and listen to some dope music. I was overwhelmed (in a good way) by the positive vibes and airy sentiment that filled the venue. The Paintbox Bistro, located at 555 Dundas St East, Toronto, held the wide-ranging crowd in it’s attractively decorated entertainment area for the evening.
After a couple hours of eating, mingling and enjoying the dj spin, the hosts of the evening, Julian and Rez, started the show at 10pm. The suit and tie, jeans and a fitted, duo broke the ice with corny (but cute) jokes and introduced the first act of the night: Host and founder by day, Emcee by night, Moe Naaman, better known as theMedicis on stage. theMedicis, who I cant help but associate with the Medici Family of Florence (I’m a history major), put on a fervent set that embodied all my favourite elements of a hip hop show. The 3 things about theMedicis set that I really enjoyed were:
1. He engaged and connected with the crowd. His engagement reflected his total gratitude and appreciation for the people in the building who continuously support the ‘Can I Live’ showcase.
2. He wasn’t afraid to show a calmer, more expressive side with tracks like “Rose in the Concrete”
3. He did a cover off Illmatic and he brought out a female Emcee to help him.
Hafswa, the 25-year-old female Emcee captivated the audience the second she stepped foot on stage. With hair resembling that of a young Lauryn Hill, it wouldn’t be so bad to be your hair (this is an India Arie reference folks). She rocked the stage with theMedicis and fed the crowd her female rap greatness. There is something about a female emcee that deserves extra attention; Courageously stepping foot into a tough and male-dominated culture takes major guts, I salute you Hafswa! After talking to attendees during and after her on stage appearance it was clear that she was the highlight of the night. She rapped alongside theMedicis and was the incentive to what he had gone on to say about women
One female expressed to me:
theMedicis recognition of women in Hip Hop was important. He recognized the vitality of female rap listeners and supporters, I dig it
theMedicis ended his set on a Dead Prez ambiance. The crowd repeated “Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop” as Julian and Rez made their way back on to the stage.
Next up was Scott Ramirez. I’m a friend and fan of the 25-year-old Philippino Emcee from Scarborough. I’ve seen Ramirez perform on more occasions than I can count on two hands – each time is better than the next. The equation of a Scott Ramirez show would be something like this:
High Energy + Storytelling + East Coast ambiance + Call & Response – Pretentious parading that you would see at a mainstream show = A dope ass time
The rhyme slinger and real life documentarian didn’t spare a dull moment, performing fan favourites like “Writers Block” “Headlocks” and his recent single “She Got Me”. Ramirez has an unprecedented confidence that he is able to charm the crowd with; they submerged in his incredible lyricism and embraced the cerebral spirit in his voice.
The last performer of the night was ELMNT. The former-Yugoslavia born, Toronto raised emcee stepped on stage with a Brooklyn Nets hat and army print jacket. He immediately suggested the crowd get closer as he stepped off stage and on to the ground level to induce a more intimate enviroment. Everything from the distinct sound of his beats, to his powerful rap delivery, ELMNT was the perfect end to a eventful night. ELMNT performed tracks available on his sound cloud page and enthralled the crowd with his eastern Europe meets Miami Vice themed stories.
Overall a fantastic night with great people, amazing food, talented performers and a charitable cause. I anticipate showcase #4
Review by: Amanda Girgis