Review: Connect The Dot 2017 Champion Showcase in Toronto

Photo by Jen Ford

For our first show of 2018, we’re showing some love to our local Toronto Hip-Hop scene with the Connect The Dot showcase! Toronto MC Mic Gutz went on a tour throughout the GTA, picking out the best MCs from each area, and now they’ve all returned to the big city for a competition to determine who is the best MC in the Toronto underground. Each artist would get to perform two songs, and a panel of judges led by Toronto legend Saukrates would determine the winner. Capping off the evening would be performances by Saukrates himself, as well as Juno Award winner Adam Bomb.

It was a slow start to the show, as the crowd took some time showing up to Revival Bar, but the fun soon started with an open-mic cypher. It’s safe to say at least half of the people in the building could rap, and several of them got on stage and took turns spitting 16s over the various beats the DJ played. There were all kinds of styles showcased, from rapid-fire flows over trap beats to smooth deliveries over traditional boom-bap. A lot of the MCs who would be competing in the showcase later on used this as an opportunity to warm themselves up and get a feel of the crowd. A cypher champion was crowned based on cheers from the crowd, and soon the showcase would get started.

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Mic Gutz brought out the legend Saukrates, who greeted the crowd and took his seat at the judges table as an MC named L.I.P (Live In Peace) got the showcase started. He had the crowd chanting his name by the end of his two songs, and things moved along quickly as Zaze took the stage with his hypeman. Zaze spit some aggressive raps during his set, and after him was the duo Casper & Kehmak of Treetop Entertainment. Representing London, Ontario, the duo took turns spitting some sharp raps. Up to this point, it was my first time experiencing any of these artists’ music, but they were making good first impressions, with rhymes that were on point.

Next was an artist I was actually familiar with who I hadn’t seen perform in a long time, Dustin Wareham. He brought some good energy to the stage, getting the crowd to all make gun noises to his song “Bukka Bukka” off of his Jouska album. He was followed by a few more artists I was unfamiliar with, including Jay So Breezy, who would go on to win the runner-up prize of this competition, and an MC with a strong reggae-influenced timbre to his voice who would jump in the crowd and perform amongst the people (couldn’t catch his name). Closing out the showcase would be some more familiar favourites of mine, Whiteplague & Matt Bishop of the group Team OBM, who I had most recently seen open for ¡Mayday! back in October.

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Before crowning the winner of the Connect The Dot showcase, there would be some more performers to keep the party rocking. Toronto MC Kidd Danielz took the stage, and he had the crowd rocking with his remix of the Phresher song “Wait A Minute.” Blacka Da Don had a performance that dazzled the crowd, rocking a jacket that had lights lit up on it, and jumping on top of the bar to rap. Dre Specz brought an entire crowd with him on stage to bring that extra energy. And finally, Adam Bomb took the stage and performed some smooth flows to his songs, including a couple off his latest release, 2017’s A-Material.

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Next it was time for Connect The Dot’s headliner, Saukrates, but first he would announce Brampton MC Saipher Soze as the winner of the showcase. Soze would get to walk away with a Connect The Dot prize pack, some kind words from the veteran Saukrates, and most importantly the respect of the Toronto Hip-Hop community. Saukrates would then proceed to perform some of his own hits. Having recently re-released his 1999 album Underground Tapes onto digital platforms for the first time, he started off with the catchy throwback “Money Or Love” before diving into a medley of his songs. With the clock approaching 2am, Saukrates rocked a short but fun set including hits like “On The Run” and “Hate Runs Deep,” bringing a joyful end to the evening.

Overall, Connect The Dot succeeded in uniting the Toronto Hip-Hop community. The building was filled with artists, whether they were there to perform or not, supporting their fellow artists during the friendly competition, as well as Hip-Hop fans in general. You could feel the love for the culture, as the artists genuinely enjoyed putting their raps on display in both a cypher and song setting, and everyone was supportive of every MC to step on the stage. It’s also really cool seeing veterans who have achieved success like Saukrates and Adam Bomb supporting the newer artists on the come up. After feeling the energy tonight, it’s safe to say the Toronto Hip-Hop scene is thriving.




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