Concert Review: Obie Trice – The Cheers 15th Anniversary Tour in Guelph, ON

Obie Trice

It’s been fifteen years since Obie Trice released his debut album, Cheers. While he’s spent many of those years on the underground circuit after his eventual exit from Shady Records, Obie’s platinum-certified debut represents a moment in Hip-Hop history worth celebrating. It was a time when Shady Records and Aftermath Entertainment were a unified force dominating Rap’s airwaves, with the entire Shady roster making guest appearances to support the first album by Obie Trice. Executive produced and featuring multiple beats by Eminem, Cheers also featured multiple vocal appearances from the Slim one himself, as well as 50 Cent and members of G-Unit, and D12, all arguably in their primes. It was also a time when there was still a somewhat low tolerance for corniness in the mainstream, as the Shady roster along with Dr. Dre himself came out to put an end to Ja Rule for biting 2Pac’s style (among other things), and mainstream fans actually listened and eventually stopped giving Ja Rule a platform.

But this isn’t about rap beef, this is about the music. Aside from a few jabs and shots aimed at Ja Rule and Murder Inc., Obie’s debut album also had him tell his story as an underdog from Detroit. He went from making you laugh on the single “Got Some Teeth” to bringing out some deep emotions on “Don’t Come Down,” showing the full spectrum of his personality. With the bulk of the production being handled by Eminem & Dr. Dre, and stars like Nate Dogg and Busta Rhymes along with the aforementioned names making solid guest appearances, Cheers has the sounds and the voices that will bring back nostalgia to a classic era in Rap. To celebrate this album turning fifteen, Obie would be hitting the road and touring all across Canada throughout December, doing 17 shows in 20 days.

For reasons unknown, there wouldn’t be any stops within the GTA on this Canadian tour. Toronto fans wanting to see Obie Trice perform would have to travel to either Whitby, St. Catharine’s, or Guelph, and so we chose the latter city to celebrate with him on a Friday night. It would also be an opportunity to see Guelph’s own Robbie G perform in his hometown, as he would be joining Obie for the entire tour as an opening act. Robbie G and his people helped book the entire tour through R-Evolution Media Studio and Cabin Media Entertainment, and Robbie G would be hosting throughout the evening as the local performers hit the stage. He would be perfectly in his element at his hometown venue, Dstrct.

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The small club in downtown Guelph would make for an intimate experience where fans would get to be up close to the artists on stage. The club got filled early as fans eagerly waited to see Obie Trice, hitting the bar and the merch booth while the opening local artists performed. The locals each had a different sound and style; GMurdah of MurdahMuzik got on first with some trap flavour, and would be followed by Phatty Switches’ more soulful, uplifting tracks. The Real Bert got on next and had the crowd hyped by jumping down to the dance floor and rapping over familiar beats by Freeway and Biggie. He had the room singing along with him to his hilarious, raunchy single “Make ‘Em Oink.”

The night was going smoothly with no waits between artists. Diztrikt Apolo went up next joined by two other emcees, and together they had a more rapid-fire style that reminded of Fu-Schnickens or Organized Konfusion. After them would be Gamble The Greedy Grin, who also rapped at a rapid-fire pace but more in the style of a Tech N9ne, with the potential to start mosh pits. He had some weird vocal effects on his mic and it was hard to tell if the muffling of his voice was a stylistic choice or the sound mixer screwing up.

Robbie G

The final opener would be Robbie G himself, who has played a major role in building Guelph’s entire Hip-Hop scene from the ground up. He would take time to speak on what it meant bringing Obie Trice to his hometown, and going from hosting local shows at this same venue to being able to tour the country. Always working on new music, Robbie G would premier an unreleased track that got the crowd hyped, and also rocked some familiar joints like “Fun House,” “Nothin’ To Do With Me,” and “The Homies.” He closed out his set with “Back To Rap,” with that thumping bass getting everyone to dance.

There would be a bit of a wait before the main show got started, and the DJ would spin a bunch of local Toronto-based artists like Bishop Brigante and Suspect/Marmel to keep the crowd entertained. He’d then hype the crowd up by doing some scratches over songs by KRS-One, Biggie, and Mobb Deep, and eventually the stage was set for the main show.

Obie Trice & Swifty McVay

While Cheers is Obie Trice’s album, it was very much a team effort by Shady Records, and it’s only right that Obie bring along someone from the team to help him celebrate the 15th anniversary. Joining him on tour would be D12 member Swifty McVay, and the crowd got hyped as the DJ started to play the instrumental from the 8 Mile song “Rap Game.” We all knew what was coming, as Swifty came out and rocked his opening verse to the song, cranking the energy all the way up! He would continue on with the D12 song “Loyalty,” which actually features Obie Trice on it, but rather than Obie coming out to spit his verse, they switched to the Cheers song “Oh!” for Obie to come out to. The crowd sang along to the Busta Rhymes chorus as Obie made his first appearance.

We learned quickly that this would be a celebration of the era Cheers came from rather than the album itself. Obie Trice would perform his guest verses on various Eminem songs, performing “Drips” off of The Eminem Show and “Love Me” off of the 8 Mile Soundtrack, before letting Swifty McVay rock his verse from Eminem’s “Under The Influence.” The sound mixing was still a little off, so they would take the time to let the sound engineer fix things before getting into the hyped “Go To Sleep,” Obie getting the crowd to chant “fuck Donald Trump!” and “free DMX!” as the dramatic beat built up.

With D12’s own Swifty McVay sharing the stage with Obie, this would be just as much a celebration of D12’s two albums, 2001’s Devil’s Night and 2004’s D12 World, as it would be of Obie Trice’s Shady releases. Obie would stand up on a ledge in the corner of the stage and sip his bottle of Hennessey as Swifty got the crowd jumping to D12’s “Shit Can Happen.” In the spirit of celebrating Cheers, Obie would then share his Hennessey with the crowd, pouring waterfall shots into peoples’ mouths as the theme from the TV show Cheers played. He then performed another throwback with his first single that was famously sampled at the beginning of Eminem’s “Without Me,” “Rap Name,” the crowd joining in for the lyrics “Obie Trice, real name, no gimmicks!”

Swifty McVay would perform his verse from D12’s “Pimp Like Me,” getting the ladies in the crowd to sing the chorus, and Obie Trice would then finally get into his Cheers album after barely touching it all night. In a dedication to his late mother, Obie performed the single “Don’t Come Down,” with Swift helping him out by playing the character of his mom on the song. With the most emotional song on the album out of the way, they’d get back to the fun, getting the crowd to help rap Dr. Dre’s verse with them on “Shit Hits The Fan.” With no regard to what seemed like a long-dead beef with Ja Rule, they went all the way in on him, covering Dre’s verse (name-drop and all) and Obie cutting the beat off to spit his own acapella. “Curtis pulled your skirt up, you got murdered!”

Keeping up the aggressive tone, Swifty started a mosh pit with his verse from D12’s “Fight Music,” getting everyone to jump with him. An actual fight would break out two songs later, as Obie would perform the only song of the night off his Second Round’s On Me album, “Snitch,” and some ladies in the front started hitting and yelling at each other as Swifty performed “Instigator.” Not phased at all by the drama, Obie went on the bring out what he called “soldier music” with one of the illest beats Eminem has ever made, “We All Die One Day.” Just after dropping the F-word in the first verse, he cut the song off to speak a bit on Kevin Hart’s recent situation of stepping down as the host of The Academy Awards. Without getting into what was said, suffice it to say Obie restarted the song and performed it uncensored, the crowd breaking out in another mosh pit and singing along to Lloyd Banks’ chorus.

Swifty would follow up with D12’s “American Psycho II” before calming down the crowd and getting everyone to put up their lighters as he performed “Revelation.” Continuing to sip from the Hennessey bottle as he backed up Swifty, Obie would then pay tribute to the late 2Pac by performing the song “Hennessey,” saying it’s a blessing he got to work with one of the all-time greats (even if posthumously). Swift would rock another D12 track, getting the crowd to sing along to “Blow My Buzz” before they paused to take a photo with the crowd. They would then pay tribute to a couple more fallen legends, paying respects to the late Nate Dogg by performing Obie’s “The Set Up,” and D12’s Proof by performing the hit “Purple Pills,” Swift dancing as he spit both his own verse and a wicked cover of Proof’s.

To close out the show, Obie of course had to perform the hit single from Cheers, “Got Some Teeth.” The crowd got rowdy one more time to the comedic track, Obie rapping directly to a girl in the front row and putting his face right up to her phone. As the song ended, another fight would break out between ladies trying to get to the front. Obie kept it cool though, having officially ended his set but going behind the turntables to spin some more Cheers tracks he didn’t get to perform. Him and Swifty would also take the time to take pictures and sign autographs with the fans.

With only 6 of 17 songs performed, this wasn’t the straight Cheers celebration that was expected, but it was still a fun time going through several deep album cuts with Obie and Swifty. It lowkey became more of a D12 Devil’s Night show than an Obie Trice Cheers show, but the fans were definitely okay with that, as we got to hear several D12 tracks that almost never get performed at your typical Eminem concert. Obie made a promise that he would try to get the rest of the D12 squad to join him on the next tour so that those songs could be performed in full (although likely without Eminem). For this one though, it was a rare opportunity to see both D12 and Obie Trice’s best work get performed in an intimate setting, and Obie and Swift made it the ultimate fan experience, even if some moments were spoiled by fights and shoving contests being a distraction. I would’ve liked to hear more Cheers tracks like “Average Man” and the “Outro” where Swift & Obie are on the same song, but that’s just nitpicking at an overall fun experience.

The Cheers 15th Anniversary Tour continues through Ontario and Quebec over the next week before heading out west. Also dubbed The Spirit of Giving Tour, discount door tickets are available with food, clothing or toy donations to charity!

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