Art is power. Art is always a cause for celebration.
When Toronto community instigator and esteemed photographer Che Kothari launched his online photographic portfolio this past Friday, true to form he brought together Toronto’s most vibrant and noteworthy community members for #1992Toronto.
The 1992 party is a mainstay New York event that was started in 2006 by the original King, Va$htie and Oscar Sanchez. It was meant to bring together tastemakers and hip hop enthusiasts, drawing the likes of Jay-Z and The Clipse who have been associated with the event. You can only imagine the sheer joy I felt when Che announced that he would be bringing down Va$htie and Huggy Bear to Toronto for the very first time. Now was our chance to show the New Yorkers what Northern Hospitality really was while they brought the energy of the Big Apple to our city. I’m a self-admitted Empirephile – a person obsessed with anything and everything New York. The cultural relevance that Toronto’s edition of 1992 was serving up was sure to be a night to look fondly back on for months to come.
The party took place in the newly revamped TATTOO (formerly Tattoo Rock Parlour) in the Queen West neighborhood, an undertaking facilitated by INK Entertainment. Hoping to rebrand it as the city’s next intimate concert venue/lounge, guests filled up the place quickly and early. No one wanted to miss the opportunity to speak with Va$htie, who had earlier informed fans via social media not feel too shy to approach the Downtown Sweetheart.
Lissa Monét was already on the 1’s and 2’s when we walked in and played an eclectic mix that included old school Michael Jackson, some of Tupac‘s more heartfelt tracks (read: Do For Love) and I particularly remember getting turnt when I heard the beat to Nu Shooz‘s I Can’t Wait. Next up was DJ Mensa who served up 90’s hip hop classics from Busta Rhymes, Snoop with Nate Dogg and scored bonus points when he spun Brandy and Ma$e‘s Top Of The World.
It wasn’t long before Va$htie and Huggy Bear took the stage and began to set up their equipment. Dressed in a navy pleated tennis skirt and her signature red, white and blue Supreme jersey, she totally looked the part of a Soho It Girl. Va$htie’s gaze remained fixed on her laptop screen never breaking concentration as she spun tracks from the Golden Age of Hip Hop and the best of the late 90s era East Coast staples. I can’t remember the last time I heard Mobb Deep and Lil’ Kim in the club, but it felt good to dance to the tracks that I was raised on. I mean, it can’t be trap-o-clock all the time.
Meanwhile downstairs in TATTOO’s cozy basement, Lissa Monét had packed the room to capacity to the point where people were afraid to go to the bathroom because they knew once they were out, there was no coming back in. I sympathize with the eager patrons who patiently waited in the staircase all the while feeling bummed that they were missing their favourite tunes. Lissa spun a mash-up of dancehall and electro in the form of Major Lazer, ratchet tracks from Drake and French Montana and got the co-ed crowd especially hyped during Beyoncé‘s Drunk In Love and ***Flawless. Yes ladies, apparently the boys can claim to have ‘woke up like dis’ too. By the end of the night, backs were aching from non-stop bubbling, the furnace pipe had taken quite a beating from everyone’s palms, edges were sweated out and faces that were once beaten to the gods…well now they just had a dewy glow.
I barely caught a glimpse of Che as he quietly weaved between the crowd ensuring that everyone was having a good time throughout the night. On our way home, my friends and I stopped to stare at the 10 ft. high photographs that had been blown up and pasted on the walls outside of TATTOO. Bright colours and expressive emotions reign supreme in Che’s work. His photographs are not only a pleasure to visually consume, but a reminder to all artists to remember the power of art.