Hopsin is one of the better rappers to come out in the past five years. He’s been able to grow his fan base with his critically acclaimed 2010 album, Raw, his “Ill Mind Of Hopsin” Youtube series (with over 37 million views on Part 5), and most recently, his new Knock Madness album. He’s been able to win over fans with his ridiculous punchlines, his sense of humour, his level of realness and relatability, and the deep, emotional moments in his music. He’s shown growth as an artist between his two independent albums, and while we’ve had a long wait for the new one, Knock Madness season is in full effect; he’s been on tour ever since releasing the album in November.
January of 2013 marked the first and last time Hopsin was in Toronto, and I unfortunately chose to miss that show in favour of going to Method Man’s show that same night. Little did I know that Method Man would return twice that year, once with Redman and again with the Wu-Tang Clan, while Hopsin wouldn’t return to Toronto until now. My train of thought at the time was that Hopsin still has his whole career ahead of him, and I had faith he would be back with new material someday. So here we are, at the same Guvernment/Kool Haus complex where I saw the Wu-Tang Clan perform last year, but this time for a much newer artist by comparison.
I got to the venue about ten minutes after the doors opened, and the line to get in was around the block. While I was waiting in line, I noticed something that I’ve never seen before at any hip-hop show: Hopsin (the headlining act) was hanging out right in front of the club, skateboarding with some young-looking fans. He has a reputation for being really friendly with his fans, depending on the situation, but this was something I never expected to see from any artist. I know next to nothing about skateboarding, so I chose to just stay in line while others went to watch Hopsin play a game of Horse with a preteen. When I got inside, there was a short wait before a local artist named Jimmy B (in the pic above) came out as the opening act. He and his crew had good stage presence, as they got the crowd involved in some chants and handed out some free CDs.
Soon after Jimmy B and his crew did their thing, DJ Hoppa came out for a short little mix before bringing out Hopsin to “The Fiends Are Knocking”. The venue wasn’t quite as full as the Wu-Tang Clan show from November, as it was pretty easy to walk to the bar and back, but it was still a large, hyped up crowd. Hopsin got into his newest single, “I Need Help”, before performing other tracks off the new album like “Rip Your Heart Out” and “Nollie Tre Flip”. He also did some tracks off Raw, getting us to jump during “Trampoline” and bringing a fan on stage to help perform SwizZz’ verse on “How You Like Me Now”.
While I only mentioned the Wu-Tang Clan earlier because they performed in this same building, the comparison doesn’t seem so farfetched, as Hopsin has clearly studied and adopted a lot of their performance techniques. He got the fan performing SwizZz’ verse to crowd-surf while rapping, making sure it was done safely and that we didn’t drop him (with an all-ages crowd, there’s bound to be people who don’t know what they’re doing). Hop himself also did multiple stage-dives, walking on our hands like Method Man does, and surfing across the crowd while rapping. He later brought some fans on stage to party with him (like how I’ve seen Ghostface do before), getting ten girls and five guys to dance during “Gimmie That Money”. Hopsin then did a little emotional section, performing “Nocturnal Rainbows” and “Old Friend” before bringing even more fans on stage to rap with him during “Lunch Time Cypher”.
By this point, Hopsin proved he’s a great performer, doing every verse of every song with minimal need for DJ Hoppa on hypeman duties. He kept the party going with “Hop Is Back” and then got into some throwbacks. He reminded us of his troubles with Ruthless Records on “Kill Her”, performed his early singles like “Sag My Pants” and “Ill Mind of Hopsin 4”, as well as his breakout feature with Tech N9ne’s “Am I A Psycho?”. Wanting to return the love he was getting from the crowd, he took a fan request leading to “Baby’s Daddy” before ending his set with “Ill Mind of Hopsin 5”. The show wasn’t over though; the crowd wanted more and Hopsin wanted to keep partying too.
Hopsin took some more fan requests, performing “Pans In The Kitchen”, “I’m Not Introducing You”, and did “Hip Hop Sinister” while crowd surfing again (I got to help hold him up by the feet as he stood up at one point). He then got funky with “Still Got Love For You” before ending his after-show with the more mellow “Good Guys Get Left Behind”. After he was done, he let DJ Hoppa play some ignorant gangsta-rap while he brought more fans onto the stage to dance.
Overall, this was one of the better shows I’ve seen. Hopsin seemed to truly appreciate the fans, spending time to take pictures with them from the stage as the crowd emptied the building. Although I didn’t stick around after the show, I could tell he’s a real class act, and it’s great to see the level of humbleness shown even with large crowds like this. It’s also great seeing newer artists like Hopsin carrying on hip-hop traditions, from not being afraid to call out other artists in your lyrics, to using the tried and proven techniques for getting the crowd involved. I highly recommend catching his show if he comes to your city; one day he may have too much material to have the time to do every verse on every song like he did here.
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