Concert Review: Apathy & Celph Titled at The Rockpile in Toronto, ON

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Apathy and Celph Titled have been busy since the last time they were both in Toronto together.  The last time was in 2013 at Nocturne Nightclub, when they were on their Demigodz KILLmatic tour.  Since then, 2014 saw them release two new albums with Army of the Pharaohs, as well as Apathy’s fourth solo album, Connecticut Casual.  I also saw Apathy headline the Cookout Festival in Hamilton that year.

This year, Apathy has released over 50 songs with a follow-up EP to Connecticut Casual called Weekend At The Cape, as well as a double-disc compilation album with both new and old tracks called The Black Lodge.  While Celph Titled hasn’t released a solo album since 2010’s Nineteen Ninety Now, he is often featured on Apathy’s solo work, and together they have tons of Army of the Pharaohs and Demigodz material to perform.  I often compare Army of the Pharaohs to the Wu-Tang Clan, and these two are like the Raekwon & Ghostface of the group, in terms of how much they work together and the amount of output they have.

This would be a bigger show than last time, as The Rockpile is a much larger venue than Nocturne Nightclub, although harder to get to from the downtown core.  It would be my fourth time coming to this venue in 2015, as I had previously seen Talib Kweli, Non Phixion, and ¡Mayday! all perform here earlier in the year.  The Rockpile has a bit of a hardcore, rebellious theme to it, which suits Apathy & Celph Titled’s style well.

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Due to circumstances beyond my control, I got to the venue ridiculously late and missed all of the opening acts.  There were a few familiar Canadians on the bill including LG, Robbie G and M.O. Littles, many others who I’m not all familiar with, and The Rockpile’s favourite host Stacee Brizzle keeping the crowd engaged between acts (happy birthday to her mom, who was also in the building).  Apologies to all for my lack of coverage.

Apathy & Celph Titled came out on stage shortly after I arrived, with DJ Auzzie Skratch starting them off with the Rocky Theme-sampling “Demigodz Is Back” and continuing with another KILLmatic track, “Captain Caveman.”  They did “Shoot First” off of Apathy’s Wanna Snuggle? album before taking a break for some freestyles.  Over the last two times I’ve seen Apathy perform, he’s gone from performing a work-in-progress verse off his phone to performing it off the top of his head, to finally recording it as an official song for his Weekend At The Cape EP.  This time he had a brand new, fresh verse he spit off his phone, and Celph Titled followed up with his own acapella freestyle off the top of his head.

Next up, they performed their verses from “Swashbuckling” off of Celph Titled’s Nineteen Ninety Now album, followed by their remix of Nas’ “Represent” off of his Gatalog mixtape.  They then got into a medley of dope verses from various tracks, including Apathy’s “The Recipe,” Celph Titled’s verse on 7L & Esoteric’s “Murder-Death-Kill,” and Celph’s “4 Course Meal.”  Apathy did another acapella verse he read off his phone, with some dope punchlines including a Harry Potter reference, and Celph gave a birthday shoutout to Mama Brizzle before they got into a party track with “Mad Ammo.”

They kept the fun vibe going with a little game where they got the crowd to rap Will Smith’s verse on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Theme, as DJ Auzzie Skratch flipped the beat to Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.”  Ap proclaimed it the greatest verse of all time since almost everyone on Earth knows the lyrics.  The energy stayed high as they got into the Honkey Kong hit “Stop What Ya Doin’,” and then there was a medley of Demigodz tracks.  Ap & Celph explained that since it was the first day of their tour, they hadn’t yet cut down their setlist, and so the Toronto crowd would get every single song they considered performing on this tour.

The Demigodz segment included the songs “Fallen Angels,” “Dumb High,” “Raiders Cap,” and “Dead In The Middle.”  They then got into several Apathy solo joints, as Ap mentioned he’s been trying to retire his remix of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” for three years.  He did a couple Connecticut Casual tracks with “Martha Moxley (Rest In Peace)” and “The Curse of the Kennedy’s” before Celph Titled got a solo joint with “S.M.D.”

The crowd had been chanting “A-O-T-P” throughout the night, and they finally got what they wanted with a medley of Army of the Pharaohs tracks.  While nothing off the new Heavy Lies The Crown album got performed, they did their verses off of the In Death Reborn single “God Particle” and the classic “Spaz Out.”  After nailing the high-energy, rapid-fire verses, they toned it down a bit with Celph Titled’s verse on “Seven” before raising the energy again with “Feast of the Wolves.”  Celph Titled then did a couple Ritual of Battle tracks with “Swords Drawn” and “Dump The Clip” before him and Apathy wrapped up the show with the classic “Battle Cry.”  Rather than perform an encore, Ap & Celph went straight to the merch booth to meet all the fans in the building, taking pictures and signing autographs.

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Overall, it was a real fun time.  It was dope to see Apathy & Celph Titled just perform everything on the DJ’s list as opposed to a cut down, organized setlist, and the chemistry of this duo is always fun to witness.  It was also a fun crowd to be a part of, as almost everyone knew most of the songs.  I would have liked to see some more songs off the two new Army of the Pharaohs albums get performed, but it was still a dope setlist with a good variety of solo, Demigodz and AOTP songs.  This is just Day One of their 2015 Canadian tour; be sure to catch them in your city and see if/how much they alter their song selection.

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