Jay-Z Kanye West Reviews

Watch The Throne Tour – Kanye West & Jay-Z in Montreal

Yesterday, amidst a crowd of 15,000 fans, two of the biggest names in hip-hop took the stage for a two-hour and forty minute marathon of rhymes and beats. As Ye and Jay rose above the crowd on fourteen foot platform covered in LEDs, you could tell this show would be one for the ages. Spitting their verses on “H.A.M.” from their respective “thrones,” and moving right into “Who Gon Stop Me” without a pause. And then joining each other on one stage to belt out their lead single with pyrotechnics and lasers spazzing all over the Bell Centre: “Otis.”

Did I mention this was only the first ten minutes of the show?

The Throne worked through a large chunk of their new album, and then started taking turns on their solo tracks. Hova was right at it with “Where I’m From,” “Nigga What? Nigga Who?” and coming back later on for “Hard Knock Life” and “Izzo (H.O.V.A.).” It seemed to me like Jay wanted a lot of the stage time to be given to Kanye – who was sporting a skirt/kilt and leather leggings for the better half of the night. For every Jay-Z song, there were three Yeezy songs. While I don’t mind the imbalance, as I’m a bigger fan of Ye than Jay (crucify me now – you have my permission), it still seemed strange to me.

Regardless, Kanye was flawless when it came to renditions of “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” (that had a laser light show reminiscent of his Glow in the Dark tour) “Jesus Walks,” “Touch the Sky,” and “Good Life.” Heck, the songs I’ve listed are just the tip of the iceberg. The duo went through about forty tracks in total, and Kanye even got the chance to do his eight minute version of “Runaway,” as well as  a powerful sing-a-long to finish off “Heartless.” All while standing on a raised platform, of course… in a kilt.

They got through the majority of their new album. “New Day” was definitely a highlight, with the two rappers just sitting on the stage, spitting their rhymes about being fathers one day soon. And when it came time to finishing off the night, “Niggas in Paris'” Blades of Glory sample came through the speakers – the crowd went off! And when they were finished? Again. Went off for the encore. Came back on. Guess what? They played it again. And when it was done? Jay yelled, “AGAIN!” And finally… one more time. Unless my ability to count was lost, they played “Niggas in Paris” five times. And you know what? The majority of us didn’t mind one bit, dancing and bumping to it like it was the first time it had been played. Every. Single. Time. The Bell Centre hasn’t been so electrified by a hip-hop crowd in a while.

Egotistical much? Yeah, but a well-executed show no doubt. They gave the fans more than their money’s worth in lasers, lights and pyrotechnics. I have no idea if another tour like this will hit your town after this leg, especially with Jay’s baby on the way. If you can make it out to a show, despite the pricey tickets, it’ll be well worth your time. That shit cray.


J. Cole in Montreal: A Night in Photos

Plenty of mixtapes and tracks. No album out. Sold out shows.
J. Cole
That about sums up the buzz around J. Cole. As I’ve said before, rap shows are particularly sparse in Montreal, but when they come around, they tend to gather a solid audience. A 1000-person sold out crowd greeted the North Carolina rapper with cheers galore. I haven’t heard Club Soda get that loud in a long time.

J. Cole
Opening with his verse off of “Looking For Trouble,” Cole did not let up from the getgo. “Higher” had the crowd (literally) lighting up, “In the Morning” had the ladies screaming, and his verse off “A Star is Born” solidified his rise to this point in time.

J. Cole
Along with two keyboardists and DJ, J. Cole had the Montreal crowd moving for nearly two hours of pure rap and hip-hop. No backing vocal track. No auto-tune. No stage gimmicks. Just a man, his mic, and his music.

J. Cole
Full set of photos: jakemullan’s flickr
Partial setlist: J. Cole in Montreal



Show Review – Hoodie Allen at La Tulipe (Montreal, Qc)

Let me tell you a little story:

I was on my lunch break from school one day, walking down the hill to grab a sandwich. I had recently downloaded a free mixtape entitled “Pep Rally” by a New York based rapper called Hoodie Allen. His stuff was on Hype Machine and it sounded pretty good to me, so I figured I’d give the rest of his album a shot. It’s loaded up on my iPhone, and I’m playing his single, “You Are Not a Robot.” So I broadcast it on my Twitter. I eat my sandwich, walk out of the shop and my phone buzzes. It’s the artist himself – Hoodie Allen, tweeting me saying “thanks jake for the support, glad u diggin robot.” That’s how you secure a fan for life.
Hoodie Allen
So when I found out that he was coming to town, I bought my tickets the day they were released. I thought there’d be more of a crowd showing up at the venue that night, but even a small crowd of a hundred people or so didn’t dampen this Long Islander’s spirit or his performance. Right off the bat, RJF (his producer and beat mastermind) drops a beat from the new mixtape “Leap Year,” and Hoodie starts spitting “You’re Welcome.” The dedicated crowd is shouting “yeah, you’re welcome” along with the hook.
Hoodie Allen
“This is crazy…” Hoodie (or Steven Markowitz) says, “I’ve never been to Canada before. I’m so sheltered. I’m just a kid from New York and we’re here in Montreal.” It was indeed his first show in Canada, and for being a guy who doesn’t get radio airplay and is not signed to a single label, having any sort of crowd must’ve been a surprise.

Along with his drummer, Jimmy Kadesch, and RJF, Hoodie gets the crowd moving with his take on The Black Keys’ “Tighten Up,” and breaks out what seemed to be a fan favorite, “James Franco.” Fans scream out “Happy birthday!” to the 23 year-old. “Someone’s been following me on Facebook today,” and he high fives the audience members who wished him one. Like I said, he’s acquired a very dedicated fanbase of online followers all over the world.

Closing out the set with “You Are Not a Robot,” the very song that got me hooked on him, I’m pretty sure that despite Hoodie’s voice being a little hoarse due to a cold, and the strict curfew the venue had – fans would’ve stayed there all night. The crowd knew every word and responded with as loud an applause that they could give. Undeniably an amazing set that showed off his skills and energy on stage.
Hoodie Allen
He hung out near the merch table after the set to make sure he met everyone. I shook his hand and thanked him for a great show. He reiterated how it was his first time in Canada and he was truly appreciative of the support he had been receiving. I told him that the language barrier might get in the way sometimes, but he was definitely welcome here anytime he wanted. And he stayed there until he met every single that wanted to chat with him.

I have a huge amount of respect for this dude. When I started following him in November, he had 3000 followers, and since then, it’s grown exponentially to 22 600 followers on his Twitter. And yet, he still spends hours per day replying to his fans (he even hits his tweet limit for the day pretty often). He meets every fan he possibly can. Hoodie is genuinely dedicated not only to his craft, but every single person out there that allows him to keep on making music. The fans. And it truly shows.

Music: Hoodie Allen
Setlist: Hoodie Allen in Montreal
Photos: jakemullan’s flickr

Eminem Reviews

Show Review – Eminem at the Osheaga Music Festival, Montreal

After more than a decade with a lack of Slim Shady, Montreal was graced with the Detroit-native white rapper just last night. Eminem grabbed hold of the record setting crowd (in the six-year old festival’s history) of 38 000, and refused to let go. As his show-opening track states, Shady just “Won’t Back Down.”

Eminem had stopped performing live back in 2005 when his drug addiction started to seriously interfere with his health. However, he’s been making a comeback to the stage in the past year, mainly performing at European music festivals, as well as Tennessee’s Bonnaroo earlier this summer. He also did a set of shows with Jay-Z last year at Yankee Stadium and Comerica Park in New York and Detroit, respectively. Even then, his performances are few and far in between, and an Eminem concert is not something that’s easy to come by. Montreal thought they were in for a treat.

And they most certainly thought right. Eminem played hit after hit, usually rapping the first verse and chorus, then moving on to the next track. While odd at first, it still somehow worked. “3 a.m.” flowed directly into “Square Dance,” both of which were short-lived. And believe me, the thunderous crowd didn’t mind it at all. Em took a pause and asked, “Montreal, how many of you have ever had beef with your parents?” And broke right into “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.” Royce da 5’9″ even joined him up on stage to spit out a couple of songs from the new Bad Meets Evil album, Hell: The Sequel. When they dropped “Lighters,” the crowd actually lit up with a “sky full of lighters” and cell phones.

The hits kept on coming, with “Stan” and “Love the Way You Lie” getting huge reactions. The Eminem we had been waiting to see all summer came out in full force in each stanza of his rhymes, and his sporadic pacing on stage. Audience members waved their arms, bounced to the beat and didn’t stop roaring. Definite highlight of the night: “Space Bound” was performed live for the first time. It may not have gotten as big a cheer as the encore “Lose Yourself” did, but it felt truly special to see and hear the Recovery track rapped for its first time in front of the massive amount of Eminem fans.

Negatives? None. Sheer perfection from one of the most talented, yet controversial, artists of our time. I think we all just wish we could’ve had Em on stage just a bit longer, so he could perform more songs in their entirety. Choice words: Loud, in your face, and on fire… even if there was a lack of pyrotechnics. If you can make it out to a show of Eminem’s, don’t even hesitate. Go ahead and simply “Lose Yourself.”