The title of this showcase alone is a tribute to the platform that Bad Perm stands on. The 7th Can I Live charity event was a celebration of female emcees (Femcee) in the Tdot hip hop scene with an all-star lineup of Haffe Sinclair, pHoenix Pagliacci, A Harmony, and Xolisa. The night proved that, ‘a good female emcee can captivate even the toughest music critic.’
I had a moment of déjà vu as I walked into the Paintbox Bistro located at 555 Dundas St. East. My third time attending the charity event, I knew to expect good summer vibes, dope music and luxurious raffle prizes. What I didn’t expect (which turned out to be my favorite part of the night) was to be grand prize winner of the evening – two tickets to see Ms. Lauryn Hill at the Sound Academy later in the month!!!
The restaurant filled with familiar faces and some sought after ones which included Tdot legend Dj MelBoogie on the 1s & 2s, with Spoke N’ Heard’s Dj Afroditee spinning the second half of the night. In typical Can I Live fashion, the host and mastermind behind the event, Moe Naaman, aka theMedicas took the stage to remind us all why we came. All of the showcases were to offer Toronto artists a platform to display their talent, but more importantly to raise money for a young man diagnosed with bone marrow cancer who has bravely fought for his life these past couple of years. The Can I Live team have worked hard to finance his monthly medications which run the young man an average $2,000 a month. Yet, this has all not been without progress. He has already started experimental chemotherapy and the surgery that was originally supposed to cost $200,000 over a three year period is now down to $21,000 over two years!
Not trying to leave the crowd in a somber mood, Moe introduced the entertainers of the night noting them as four incredibly dope female emcees and some of the realist spitters in North America. The first Queen Femcee to take the stage was Haffe Sinclair, sister of theMedicas himself and rapper extraordinaire. Digging into her Swahili roots, her first song Hakuna Matata which translates to ‘no worries’ was not only a throwback to my first Disney love The Lion King, but a symbolic mantra for the theme of the night – making sure to take pleasure in the things we can control in our life, and to just shake off the rest. Haffe ended her set with a less P.G but just as hype track G-String Murders.
Second to perform was recent nominee for top female hip hop artist at this year’s Black Canadian Awards, pHoenix Palagcci alongside MelBoogie. A natural comedian as much as she is an artist, she warmed up for her stellar performance by cracking jokes and giving everyone a good laugh. Performing some of her newer tracks, World is Yours and Youth of the Future, pHoenix’s music style is a raw mix of RnB and hip hop, transitioning from singing to rapping without hesitation.
A Harmony took the stage next accompanied by multi talented, multi instrumentalist 4th Metric Music artist Joe Harry who’s bass playing struck a relaxed vibe throughout the crowd. Before beginning her performance she explained her musical style by simply stating ‘if Claire Huxtable could rap, she would be me.’ Her most memorable song of the night T.I.T.S aka Time is too Short is a memoir and anthem for woman suffering with breast cancer. Although a beautiful song in itself, it also was a reflection of the Can I Live cause.
Last, but far from least, rapper and spoken word artist Xoilsa closed the night with – dare I say – socially and politically inspired tracks. With Dj Afroditee spinning and the equally talented Enuma on the drums, the female powerhouse performance was reminiscent of old school female bands. Xolisa performed some of her more popular songs including Borderlines, which speaks to the sobering fine line between poverty and the middle class in Toronto as well as her infamous track A Beautiful Mind.
As Showcase #7 came to a close, it was evident that everyone felt fulfilled in dedicating their time and money to a good cause. Not to sound like a broken record, but the work that Moe and all the artists put in that night prove that hip-hop can be credited for facilitating positive contributions to our community. Besides, lest we forget that ‘Can I Live’ is a Jay-Z reference, keeping it hip hop to support those in need!