Hoodie season is upon us, but as the weather gets colder, there won’t be any shortages in Hip-Hop artists bringing their concert tours through the city. While there aren’t as many large stadium shows or outdoor festivals, there are a ton of more intimate club performances happening before the end of the year. We picked out some must-see events for Hip-Hop lovers in Toronto, and narrowed down our top 10 picks. Check them out below, laid out in chronological order:
10. Wu-Tang Clan at Rebel Nightclub
(September 30, 2018)
After failing to unite all nine living members of the Wu-Tang Clan for their show in Kitchener back in July (Method Man had to catch a last-minute flight back to L.A.), they’re giving it another shot with a show that’s actually in the big city. Best of all, this concert is free, so fans won’t have to pay twice to attempt to see a full Wu-Tang roster in Ontario. For lovers of all-time classic Hip-Hop, the Wu-Tang Clan’s 25th Anniversary Tour has been one of the most anticipated tours of 2018, with all nine members committed to celebrating the milestone; them missing a member at the previous show had to be a fluke. Their shot at redemption is brought to us by recreational cannabis brand Hexo, who successfully brought The RZA to town last month for an intimate screening of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, and has been putting up promo for this event at bus stops and train stations around the city. If you love Hip-Hop, this one is a no-brainer!
To get into this free show, submit a request to RSVP at NeverJaded.ca!
(UPDATE: We went to this show and reviewed it! Click here to read the full review.)
9. Swollen Members at The Rockpile
(October 2, 2018)
In the past couple years we’ve seen Madchild perform at the Rockpile as a solo artist, and Prevail perform with his alternate group Alpha Omega, but now they’ve reunited as Swollen Members for what they’re calling the Family Reunion Tour. The Juno award-winning group from Vancouver hasn’t released a new album together since 2014, but it’s the decades of classics behind them that allows them to tour through all of Canada, including 16 stops in Ontario. Between this show and others in nearby Hamilton, Oshawa, and Newmarket, fans will get to see an up-close performance by some all-time greats in Canadian Hip-Hop. It will be a ton of classic material they haven’t been able to perform fully in years due to pursuing solo endeavours, and maybe we’ll get a preview of a potential new project(?).
Tickets for this show at The Rockpile are available here.
8. J. Cole at Scotiabank Arena
(October 4, 2018)
It’s no fluke that J. Cole is hitting all the big stadiums on yet another tour. Releasing his fifth major label album back in April, KOD, he’s achieved another gold-selling album with no radio singles, and possibly also made the most important, most relevant mainstream album of 2018, especially with the recent increase in drug overdoses (RIP Mac Miller). After catching him on last year’s 4 Your Eyez Only Tour, we can tell you that J. Cole has adopted a format for his concerts where he performs his newest album in its entirety, in track listing order, with of course a few older throwbacks sprinkled in between. Fans can expect to hear every new song off the KOD album, along with select favourites from his previous releases. It might also be the last great stadium Hip-Hop concert for 2018.
Tickets are still available for J. Cole’s Toronto stop here.
7. Apathy & Celph Titled at The Vatican Gift Shop
(October 5, 2018)
Opening the doors for a brand new venue in Toronto are a pair of underground rap’s finest emcees, Apathy & Celph Titled. Known for their work as part of the supergroups Army of the Pharaohs, as well as The Demigodz, Ap & Celph have kept the brands hot with their consistent touring, hitting Toronto at least every other year. Apathy, in particular, has been able to keep the tours fresh with his consistent output of solo material; since their last time in Toronto, Ap has released his collaborative album with D.I.T.C. legend O.C., Perestroika, as well as his acclaimed 2018 solo release, The Widow’s Son. As with anytime Ap & Celph Titled are in town, be prepared for a grimy, rugged, underground vibe with a focus on raw, hardcore, battle-oriented bars. This will be a night to experience the AOTP and Demigodz classics, along with some new material, all performed in a brand new venue opening its doors for the first time.
Tickets can be bought here. Upgrading to VIP includes an exclusive CD that won’t be sold anywhere else!
6. Kool G Rap at Revival Bar
(October 18, 2018)
Fun Up Entertainment has been bringing underground legends like Apathy & Celph Titled, M.O.P. and R.A. The Rugged Man to Toronto within the last year or so, and this time they’ve booked an OG who’s often considered one of the greatest to ever do it, Kool G Rap. Easily one of the most influential emcees of all time, Kool G Rap performing live is a rare sight to see outside of New York; in all my years of reviewing concerts, I don’t ever remember a time he came to Toronto. Whether you’re a Hip-Hop historian who appreciates the late 80’s/early 90’s era, or an older fan who actually grew up in that era, this will be an extremely rare opportunity to see one of the original innovators in person. While he does have a new collaborative album with 38 Spesh released this year called Son of G Rap, it’s the decades of older classics in his catalogue that will bring out the most dedicated Hip-Hop heads on a weeknight.
Tickets to see Kool G Rap in Toronto can be bought here.
5. Oddisee & Evidence at The Mod Club
(October 26, 2018)
An unlikely pairing between two underground forces has brought us The Odd Weather Tour. Rhymesayers Entertainment emcee from California, Evidence, has teamed up with Mello Music Group’s Oddisee from Washington D.C., in what’s bound to bring together lovers of down-to-Earth rap. Both known for their uncompromising, mature approach to their music, there should be plenty of crossover appeal between the two fanbases. Evidence is coming off one of the better releases of 2018 with his album Weather Or Not, his first full-length project since 2014, while Oddisee is still riding the wave from 2017’s The Iceberg, as well as his live album Beneath The Surface. While we saw Oddisee put on an incredible show last year on his Beneath The Surface Tour with his band Good Compny, it looks like this tour will be a more traditional Hip-Hop approach, with an emcee and a DJ.
Tickets to see Oddisee & Evidence in Toronto can be bought here.
4. Jay Rock at The Mod Club
(November 12, 2018)
It’s been a big year for Jay Rock, releasing one of the most well-received Hip-Hop albums of 2018 with Redemption, and joining the entire TDE squad on The Championship Tour this past spring. After seeing him get shortchanged on the tour back in June, only getting to perform four songs during his set, he’s been on his solo Redemption Tour giving fans the full show. Joining him on this tour will also be Top Dawg Entertainment’s newest signee, Reason, who’s out to prove he belongs on this roster full of rap superstars. It seems all the artists on the TDE label are becoming more and more famous every year, and so this may be one of the few opportunities to see Jay Rock in a smaller club setting before things really take off.
Tickets are still available here.
3. Classified at The Opera House
(November 16, 2018)
One of the all-time greats in Canadian Hip-Hop is celebrating our country’s excellence with The Canadian Classic Tour. With fifteen albums behind him, Classified is gearing up to release his sixteenth album this October with Tomorrow Could Be The Day Things Change, and will be hitting the road to perform all across Canada. Joining him will also be Canadian icons Maestro Fresh Wes and Choclair bringing that old school flavour to the stage. While this tour is a celebration of classic Canadian Hip-Hop, Classified is also making way for the future Canadian icons by allowing local artists to submit tracks over his own production for a chance to open at their local tour date. In what’s rumoured to be his last run doing small club shows, The Canadian Classic Tour is looking to be a fun, up-close party with some of the best emcees to come out of our country.
Tickets for this show are available here.
2. Murs at The Drake Hotel
(December 1, 2018)
One of underground Hip-Hop’s most prevalent voices, Murs is finally coming to Toronto to perform for the first time in several years. Between his solo work and collaborative projects with artists like 9th Wonder, Slug, and ¡Mayday!, Murs has released over twenty albums since the late 90’s, and has embodied the spirit of Hip-Hop. Having repped several labels and brands over the years, the latest era in Murs’ career has him rocking with Tech N9ne’s Strange Music label, his latest release being 2018’s A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable, produced entirely by Strange’s own Seven. Having been so many years since he last performed in Toronto, it’s bound to be a well-blended showcase of both his newest Strange material, as well as the older classics he released throughout the 2000’s. He’s a man of the people, and the fans will get to be up close as he performs in the intimate Drake Hotel.
Tickets to see Murs in Toronto are available here.
1. Shad at The Great Hall
(December 14 & 15, 2018)
The year wouldn’t be complete without a concert by one of Canada’s best emcees. We’ve seen Shad perform in Toronto at least once every year, although admittedly his setlists have started to get repetitive with a lack of new material released. That’s about to change though, as the wait is finally over and Shad is gearing up to release his first rap album in five years, A Short Story About War. After the new album drops in October, he’ll be hitting the road for an international tour that will conclude with a pair of shows at Toronto’s Great Hall. While fans have waited to hear new raps from Shad, we’ve seen him hold a stint hosting CBC Radio’s q, release a pop-rock album under the name Your Boy Tony Braxton, and make an award-winning documentary film called Hip-Hop Evolution, where he analyzes the culture’s origins through a series of interviews. He’s been doing great things, but now fans can rejoice as he has returned to rap mode.
Tickets for the December 14 show in Toronto are already sold out, but they’ve added a second show on 15th! Buy tickets here before they sell out.
Remember to check out the SYpherSights Youtube channel for more concert videos.