Seeing as I hadn’t written a review in a minute (summer school had me on lockdown) the Plaitwrights CD release party was my first escape from the library all summer. Located at Toronto’s cultural cornerstone the Drake Hotel, known for its live music, amazing food and unique art exhibits, the band couldn’t have picked a better spot to showcase their eclectic talent and drop their first album.
I first had the chance to see Plaitwrights back in July at the ‘Can I live’ showcase where they headlined the charity event aimed at raising money for a young Toronto man suffering from bone marrow cancer. The Toronto duo Xylk [Silk] Lorena and Angela Abrenica, alongside their band of musicians have worked tirelessly for the past year to see the day of their EP release.
As the crowd waited in anticipation for the performances to start, Moe and Hafswa Naaman the brother sister act better known by their emcee names theMedicis and Haffe Sinclair alongside Storytella Issa took the stage for an unforgettable performance. The pioneer behind the ‘Can I Live’ project, Moe has hosted various showcases around Toronto which has allowed for up and coming artists to display their talent while also raising money for the now 20-year-old cancer patient. To catch more of these amazing rappers & to show love and support for the dope initiative check them out later this month (August 25th) at Dazzling Lounge where they will be hosting their 5th charity showcase BBQ.
Second up was a short performance by underground Toronto rapper SHAQISDOPE who reminded me of a young J.Cole. The dude had the crowd moving to his hype performance, proving himself as a self confident man and a front runner in the Toronto hip-hop game. If you don’t believe me you can check him out on datpiff.com – pay special attention to his mixtape “Sophomore Season”.
Last, but far from least, as Plaitwrights took the stage members of the band alongside the deafening crowd threw up hand signs mimicking what appeared to be the number 13. When I later had the chance to ask Angela what the hand symbol meant she described “it’s the sign for the 13th floor. That’s the thing we do for our best friends, we always want to credit them for supporting us – they are the ones who fuel our drive. Why 13th floor? Xylk and his best friend have been living in Jamestown apartment buildings all their lives and there is no 13th floor due to common belief that its bad luck. In the same sense we feel that we are overlooked and skipped. We vow to rise above these expectations”. Keeping in line with this symbolic gesture the doors to the show opened at 9:13pm with the show starting at 10:13pm and Plaitwrights taking the spotlight at 11.13pm.
So used to being guests of other artists shows, Xylk took the mic and absent-mindedly shouted “Thank you for having us…..Uh, I mean thank you for coming out”! The humble demeanor of the young rapper continued as he avidly thanked his fans for all the support himself and Angela received during the past year. In a touching note Angela remarks “This past year so far has been the most emotional and heartbreaking year. Many feelings of frustration, anger, sadness and doubt hit me within the past months. But with those feelings came growth. I found myself more within the lowest times. Myself and Xylk have been tested with so many obstacles towards the making and process of this EP release that only lead to strength”.
The performance showcased the blazing vocals and talent of Angela (who by the way can make a ukulele look downright sexy) and the fierce lyrics of Xylk amongst an array of instruments proved why the duo is quickly rising to the top. Alongside the ever talented band Charleston Relay, they blew the crowd away with performances mirroring a cross between indie/electronic/folk rhythms meets old school hip-hop. My favorite song of the night by far was “Golden” as Xylk got up close and personal with the catchy love tune. Giving praise to his grandparents who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, he reminisced over the love they share and the hope that he could one day have the same. As a saxophone blared in the background the rapper jumped into the crowd during the instrumental break to show love for his fans.
As the night ended everyone got to walk away with a copy of the EP album, with an opportunity to purchase handmade Plaitwrights bracelets and limited edition CMYK shirts. I truly believe the release of their album is only the beginning as the local (and beautifully authentic) duo and band is on the fast track to going global.