The first and last time I saw Reggie Noble, a.k.a. Redman perform was during the spring of 2013, when he tore down The Sound Academy with Method Man. That was the time when my glasses were destroyed because they got knocked off my face while I was helping carry Redman during his crowd surfing. It was still one of the best hip-hop shows I’ve ever been to, and I fully expected Redman to be just as dope on his own, this time at a more intimate venue in Rockpile East. Last summer I saw Tech N9ne perform at the original Rockpile West, but this would be my first time going to the newer Rockpile East location.
Redman doesn’t need much of an introduction; we all know he’s a hip-hop legend from the golden era of rap and his influence is undeniable. His cartoon-like mannerisms and comedic lyrical style are often imitated by emcees like Eminem and Ludacris. His weed-smoker raps have influenced most other artists who rap about weed, and his use of alter-egos on his albums are an obvious influence on Tyler The Creator (Dr. T.C. being very similar to Dr. Trevis). Redman is also regarded as one of the greatest showmen in hip-hop; he’s up there with Busta Rhymes, Tech N9ne, Black Thought, and of course Method Man. Before he got on stage though, there were some opening acts.
I have to give a shoutout to In Tha Kut Radio for allowing my crew to get on their guestlist, as some of the artists on their team were a part of the local talent showcase. Their artists all took turns performing their songs, including my friend Jamila B and her partner in rhyme, Donsai, who did one song each. After the In Tha Kut showcase, Marmel Entertainment had their own set. It was my third time seeing Marmel, although their roster seems to change slightly with every performance. The final opening act before Redman got on was Charron from King of the Dot, who I had seen perform a little over a year ago when he opened for Wu-Block.
After all the opening acts got the crowd turned up, Redman came out in what seemed like no time at all and kept the party going. By now clouds of smoke were forming above the crowd and beer started to glaze the floor; it was a good ol’ grimy hip-hop show! Redman started things off with “Errbody Scream” and kept the crowd hyped the entire time he was on stage. With the absence of Method Man, Red was able to go through hits off most of his solo albums including “Time 4 Sum Aksion”, “How To Roll A Blunt”, “Tonight’s Da Night”, “Pick It Up”, “Whateva Man”, “I’ll Bee Dat”, and “Put It Down”.
With over two decades experience of rocking shows, watching Redman perform is like watching a master at work. He nailed every flow on every track, knowing exactly when to let the hypeman and the crowd cut in, and maintained a high energy level throughout. Even the little things like engaging the crowd, knowing when to throw water on us to get a reaction, knowing when to take a puff of weed, and of course his famous crowd surfing stunt are all part of a perfectly executed set that takes years of development. While the smaller venue made it more dangerous to do his usual stage-dive, he still crowd surfed just once after performing “Da Rockwilder”, with the crowd rapping Method Man’s part. I wore my contact lenses this time.
The Rockpile East was another good venue for hip-hop shows, although the location is pretty far from downtown Toronto. They make up for the distance by having free parking, and a motel and strip club in the same block to accommodate for overnight stays (although I didn’t take advantage of this). The inside is really nice as the bars look like they’ve been renovated recently and the overall layout is done well. Thumbs up.
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