When I was approached to cover the ‘Can I Live?’ Showcase #4 (my first ever official review) I was more than excited to be in the presence of this dope initiative which aspires to raise money for a young man suffering from bone marrow cancer. I had an opportunity to attend charity showcase #3 back in May where I initially met Moe Naaman, the brain behind it all.
The various showcases that Moe and his team have held offer an opportunity for up and coming Toronto artists to display their talent while also raising money for the now 20-year-old cancer patient who recently celebrated his birthday. A birthday he was told by doctors that he would never live to see. An estimated $200,000 over a three year period is needed for him to have a significant chance of survival, a cost that the ‘Can I live’ team is slowly, but surely, working hard to reach. “It costs about $2,500 a month to finance the medication and smaller surgical operations he needs” Moe tells me, “the shows that we put on help him get the pills he needs so he doesn’t have to feel the pain”.
In the spirit of life & love, the night was filled with good food, music and some amazing raffle prizes which included Outkast’s debut 1994 album ‘Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik’, their 1998 album ‘Aquemini’ and (my personal favourite) the late Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’…..did I mention it was a vinyl copy?!
While the venue, the Paintbox Bistro, located at 555 Dundas St. East began to fill in with avid hip-hop heads and proud supporters of the cause, the room flowed with dope tracks courtesy of DJ Griff. He took us back to hip-hop’s better days– with hip-hop straight from the 90’s. The crowd was definitely receptive to the goodness oozing through the speakers.
Keeping in line with the theme of duets, first up to perform was none other than Moe and Hafswa Naaman, the brother sister act better known by their emcee names theMedicis and Haffe Sinclair. I was proud to see the two show their affection for one another as theMedicas praised Haffe as a wicked female emcee and joked about the everyday sibling rivalries, that I personally relate to; like the death-to-the-finish-line race for the last bowl of cereal and the ever contested control of the TV remote. My personal favourite was reference to the 1990s beautiful fictional African-American family on the sitcom ‘Family Matters’, a reference the duo used to highlight the chorus of their epic performance showing us all that ‘no matter what happens/family matters’!
Second to perform were the headliners of the evening, Plaitwrights. I over heard their soundcheck earlier that night, which made me more than excited to see what the duo had in store– Their blazing vocals amongst an array of instruments were a precursor of good music to come. The Toronto duo Xylk [Silk] Lorena and Angela Abrenica, alongside their band of musicians, blew the crowd away with performances mirroring a cross between indie/electronic/folk rhythms meets old school hip-hop keepin to traditions of oral storytelling and raw emotion. Their cover of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘B****, Don’t Kill My Vibe’ stole my heart as the smooth vocals of Angela beautified the rough lyrics of Kendrick while the instrumental performance of the band fused a melody that (in my opinion) sounded a like production better than the original beat. In case I haven’t convinced you, you can check them out as they open for Talib Kweli at Yonge & Dundas square July 20th 2013.
Needless to say as the night came to a close I walked out of the PaintBox Bistro with a sweet ‘Can I Live’ T-Shirt, some new favorite artists and a rekindled love for the positive contributions that hip-hop is all too rarely credited for facilitating. I sit in anticipation for the next showcase on this journey to help the life of a young man in need of a cure.
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Written by: Bissy L.W