It’s been two years since Rittz last performed in Canada, and now he’s back with a country-wide tour to promote his fourth and final album on Strange Music, 2017’s Last Call. Starting off in Quebec and slowly making his way out west to BC, the fifth stop on this tour would see him returning to The Rockpile in Toronto on a Saturday night. This would be his second time performing here, as he also rocked the Rockpile during his very first Canada-wide tour back in 2016.
Since the last time he was here, not only has Rittz released a new album, but he’s also made several guest appearances on albums by his fellow Strange Music label mates, including Tech N9ne’s most recent collabo albums Dominion and Strange Reign. He would make it clear at this show however that he’s looking to cut his ties to the independent powerhouse once his contract is up in August, pushing his own CNT brand. He would put his fans to the test, seeing which of them are true Rittz fans and which are only supporting him for his Strange Music connection.
As with most Rockpile shows, there was a long list of local performers hitting the stage before Rittz. We showed up a couple hours into the show, just as L.S.D. Records were showcasing their artists and getting the crowd to follow their chant “lyrically, lyrically, lyrically so dope!”. L.S.D. had some familiar artists with Nos Killah & Trouble Maker, who I had last seen open for Slaine & Termanology back in November, except this time they had a larger squad with them, each performing as solo artists rather than a group. Nos Killah closed out their set with an energetic, chopper-style solo performance, bringing half the crowd on stage with him to rock out to the final song. The energy was cranked early on!
Next up was JDon of Raw Dawg Entertainment, who we’ve seen host many shows in the city before. This time rather than entertaining the crowd with giveaways like usual, he actually had a couple songs prepared, and brought a ton of energy to the mic. He then brought out Samwise and Stripe Gang, who had the crowd bouncing to some high-energy tracks.
The last of the local performers would be Brad Shank & J Reno, who also opened for Rittz last time he was here, and more recently for Tech N9ne’s last show in Toronto. As per their usual, they ripped the mic with some aggressive raps and rugged beats, getting the crowd to jump.
There would be a bit of a wait before Rittz hit the stage, but host Stacee Brizzle kept the crowd entertained in the meantime. She had been plugging her upcoming birthday event this Thursday (May 24), Brizzle’s Kitty Palace Vol. 3, and gave away some free tickets to fans who could guess her favourite Rittz song (check out our review of her last Hip-Hop fundraiser, Mind Ya Brizzness). Eventually the stage was setup with smoke machines, a Georgia street sign, and a huge Rittz sign; it was time for the MC everyone came to see.
Just like last time he was here, Rittz came out to the first song off his 2016 album, Top Of The Line. He slayed the rapid-fire verse on the title track, and then dove right into a throwback off his 2013 debut album, “For Real.” After giving the fans a taste of the familiar, he then got into some new material off of Last Call, performing the bouncy “Down For Mine,” followed by “Dork Rap.” With the last verse on the latter track being satirical comedy, Rittz cut the beat off to spit it accapella, putting on his fake college bro accent to mock dorky rappers. He then took some time to talk to the crowd, telling a funny story of how fans at the hotel mistook him for Action Bronson.
Rittz then got into several songs off of his 2014 sophomore album, Next To Nothing, performing fan favourites like “Turn Down,” “In My Zone,” “Bounce” and “Call 911.” While this is The Last Call Tour, most the songs Rittz would perform would be from Next To Nothing, as it has some of his most memorable hooks the fans connect to the most. He did eventually get back to the new album though, setting up the mic stand so he could sing his way through the first bit of “Indestructible” before it breaks down into his rapid-fire flow. He also performed the laid back “Reality Check” and the more emotional “Press Rewind,” showing off his singing abilities.
At one point some fans broke out Tech N9ne’s “ahh-ooh!” chant, and Rittz paused the show to explain how he’s no longer rocking with Strange Music after his contract ends in August. While prominently rocking a Strange Music chain, he said he’s going to be hanging it up in his studio once his time with the label ends. He pointed out some fans may just be Tech N9ne fans supporting anyone on the Strange Music label, but his true fans will continue to rock with him as he moves on to his CNT brand.
Continuing with the show, he went back to alternating between his Next To Nothing and Last Call albums, performing new joints like “Into The Sky” and “Only Human,” as well as throwbacks like “Blow,” “Crown Royal,” and “White Rapper.” He got the crowd to sing along with him to the hooks, and slayed all his rapid-fire verses. Next, Rittz invited a fan celebrating a bachelor party to rock with him on stage as he performed “Switch Lanes,” letting him record a video while on stage.
Rather than leaving the stage and waiting for an encore chant, Rittz decided to just keep rocking, performing a pre-Strange Music throwback “High Five,” and then coming down to the dance floor to perform “Wastin’ Time” amongst the people. He moved through the crowd of people and let everyone around him take selfies as he rapped and sang. This would be the end of his set, as he then returned to the stage to grab his coat, and thanked the crowd before leaving the building.
As with last time, Rittz proved to be a true school performer, nailing all his vocals himself whether it was rapid-fire raps or melodic singing, and performing for over an hour and a half. He interacted well with the crowd, telling jokes throughout his set between songs, and getting them involved in singing his choruses. It will be interesting to see where his career goes from here, now that he plans on cutting ties with Strange Music and moving forward on his own. The Strange Music era will be a time in Rittz’ career that fans will continue to go back to, and this Last Call Tour is truly a celebration of that era as it comes to an end.
The Canadian leg of The Last Call Tour wraps up in Victoria, BC on June 3rd, and will be hitting every province along the way.
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