Photo cred - Karine LaRocque
For those who complain that Montreal does not get good rap shows, here's a journey through time as far back as 1995 when The Beastie Boys took over Verdun Auditorium to just last month when Outkast finally returned to the city at a sold out Osheaga, and a number of other legendary hip hop concerts that have left their mark here. Compiled by the folks at Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal and including stories and anecdotes from the people that were there to see it, here's a list of 10 shows that hip hop fans in Montreal will never forget. Be sure to check out Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal this Thursday September 18th at Le Belmont and go to www.hhkmtl.com for more info!
Photo Cred - Thrasher Magazine
Who: Beastie Boys
Where: Verdun Auditorium
"Verdun Auditorium. I was 13 at the time so it had to be 95. The openers for the show were Bad Brains. I had no idea who that was at the time but I got myself to the front of the pit as soon as I heard the first note of the opener. Thinking back, I don't remember if they hit the stage, but I remember hearing the story that HR (lead singer of BB) punched their manager in the face and got arrested. I stayed there till my curfew, midnight (which was mad late for a 13 year old). The headliners had just dropped one of my favorite albums, iLL communication. The Beastie Boys murdered Verdun that night. It was a highlight of my life, let alone my musical experience. My first concert with the homies. Pablo and Mustafa. The phone is ringing, oh my God. I couldn't get it together."
- The Narciscyst, musician, actor, professor.
Photo cred - Morgan Steiker
Who: Brother Ali & J-Live
Where: Foufounes Electriques
"The first show I did in Montreal was with Brother Ali and J-Live at Foufounes Electric. At the time, I hadn't even heard any of Brother Ali's stuff. It was Fall of 2004, so it was before ready access to everything on the internet. Anyway, I remember two things from that night explicitly. Ali went on stage and asked the crowd "how many people are fans of Brother Ali". 50 people out of about 400 put their hands up. I can't remember exactly what he said next but it was something to the effect of: "After this, you will be". His first song was "Champion", from the EP of the same name that he was touring for. Now Brother Ali was an unknown 6-foot giant with albinism, who didn't say much. He had on a black hoodie with the hood up, black jeans, and black sneakers. His pink face was barely visible. Then, he recited the line "...big bad, fat ass, BROTHER ALI, UGHHHHH". And when he got to the "UGHHHHH" part he pulled his hoodie off and he just looked like a rapper from another world. EVERYONE's hands shot up and he instantly made 350 more fans. That night everything clicked for the crowd and the artist. It was perfect."
- Mike D, Legendary (& retired) rap promoter, artist manager, Sofa King Raw Entertainment.
Photo cred - Carlos Munoz
L'école du micro d'argent
-Brooke Walsh, owner of Coda Nightlife Group & programming Director at Le Belmont.
Where: Le Medley
"One of the very first shows I saw in Montreal was a free Concordia Frosh event (naturally!). In January 2004, the main event was a Common show at the now-disappeared Medley. This show sort of flipped a switch for me and helped usher me into a whole world of hip-hop I had yet to experience. Common delivered a great performance, and he was real, down to earth and friendly. The crowd was not trying to be hard, everyone was just there to have fun and watch the man do his thing. At one point, Common actually busted some official breakdancing moves on stage. I’m talking windmills and everything! It blew my mind to see this guy just be himself and the crowd reaction was phenomenal. I’ve seen a lot of hip-hop shows since then, but none have struck quite a chord. This show was the bare essentials – one mic, one DJ, one emcee. Common brought the house down and helped show me that there’s a lot more to hip-hop than tough talk, money and bitches."
- Peter Dehais, marketing coordinator at Evenko.
Photo cred - Karine LaRocque
Who: Snoop Dogg
"I saw Snoop Dogg this past summer and it was easily my favorite hip hop show to date. Just as you'd expect it to be, Metropolis was one big hot-box. Snoop came out rocking a Habs jersey, and kept a steady flow of hits going for a good hour and a half. To be honest, the performance itself wasn't anything over the top. Pretty basic stage set up, and only a couple hype men. And yet, even at its worst ('California Girls'? Really?) it was pretty damn good. Snoop is a hip hop legend, and he had me hooked."
- Brad Johns, 94.7 Hits FM On Air Personality.
Photo cred - Waahli
"I’ve been fortunate to have a front seat during the golden era of hip-hop. Through out the years, I’ve been going to see a lot of rap concerts in Montreal, which are always refreshing as a fan of this music genre and an artist. My best rap concert was most definitely De La Soul in 2005 at Metropolis when they came to perform their 7th album Grind Date in front of what looked like 2500 people. Their longevity in this rap music industry has never seized to amaze me, being together for so long with a catalogue full of rap hits- it's just breathtaking. They performed all their classics but my highlight was when they performed Rock Kokane Flow. While MF Doom was shining in his absence, they managed to put keep the crowd at their feet, doing this slick broken movement into a momentary freeze over the break part of that song- just made it all so epic for me. I mean Stakes Is High is by far my best DeLaSoul album but they’ve always found ways to renew themselves every year. Oh I forgot, right after the show I got my picture taken with Trugoy right on S.
- Waahli, Nomadic Massive