It was a night of rarities this past Saturday in Toronto, as The Academy Presents had a showcase of Hip-Hop artists who don’t release new music too often, and haven’t touched a Toronto stage in a while. Brooklyn, New York emcee Nitty Scott would be making her return up north, her latest release being 2017’s Creature!, and opening for her would be Toronto veteran Mathematik, who would be celebrating the release of his first album in almost fifteen years, Real/Is-Him. While there’s a big difference in age and experience between the two artists, both have remained deep in the underground over the years, and so it would be an intimate performance at Adelaide Hall for the Toronto Hip-Hop heads in the know.
The venue slowly filled up as DJ Grouch played some songs. He would take heads on a journey, playing the original songs that were later sampled in Hip-Hop, followed by the actual Hip-Hop tracks they were sampled in. He had a cool flip between playing a brass band with instantly recognizable horns, followed by the Hip-Hop track that made them recognizable, Jay-Z’s “Roc Boys.” A modest crowd would accumulate by the stage as host Wan Luv got the show started, and it was eventually time to bring out Mathematik.
Although Mathematik made his debut twenty years ago, it was like seeing a brand new artist when he performed, as his musical output has been sparse over the years. Having recently released just his third album in those twenty years, he got his set started with some new material, performing the intro from the new album, “Painted Thoughts.” His set was a display of raw lyricism, as he locked in and spit his stream of consciousness verses effortlessly.
Mathematik would go on to perform throwbacks from his 1999 debut album, Ecology, including the song from his very first music video, “Formations.” He also performed some of the standout songs from his new Real/Is-Him album, including “Mayweather” and “Entertainment.” With the crowd not being too familiar with the tracks, we all mostly focused on listening and taking in the lyrics as he spit them sharply.
To close out his set, Mathematik would bring out his daughter Trinity to perform their collaboration together, “Clap,” getting the crowd to clap along to the beat as she sang the chorus. After getting the crowd to vibe with him for one last song, Mathematik would leave the stage, and it would be time for Nitty Scott to take over after a quick break.
The last time we saw Nitty Scott perform in Toronto, she was previewing her yet to be released sophomore album, Creature!, and tonight she wasted no time getting into the material off of that 2017 release. Being a much younger artist, her songs had more energy to them and got the crowd moving, as she performed standout tracks like “Pxssy Powah!” and “Negrita.” She would also sprinkle in a few throwbacks during her set, going back to her 2012 Kendrick Lamar collaboration “Flower Child,” doing a wicked cover of K-Dot’s verse.
Being an artist who can just as easily make you dance as she can make you think with her thought-provoking rhymes, Nitty took on a more serious tone as she performed her song about women’s objectification, “For Sarah Baartman,” and followed it up with the deep “Still I Rise.” Much like Mathematik’s set, she drew in the ears for these more serious and intimate songs, but would soon get back to party mode. After performing selections from her solo albums and EPs, she would do a segment of songs off of her 2016 collaborative album with the group No Panty (which includes fellow New Yorkers Joell Ortiz & Bodega Bamz), Westside Highway Story.
The No Panty album very much embraces New York’s Latino culture, and the Spanish flavour on the songs definitely got the crowd in the mood to move again. Nitty performed some of her standout verses from the album, including the single “Hola,” the certified head-nodder “Iceys On Deck,” and the aggressive “Rrraahh.” Nitty absolutely slayed her verses, getting the crowd involved, and continued on to more of her solo material.
Keeping up the aggressive tone of the raw emceeing, Nitty performed her single “BBYGRL,” and followed up with her most successful song to date, “La Diaspora,” the music video for which has surpassed a million views on YouTube and is being honoured at various film festivals. Nearing the end of her set, Nitty would close out with one last banger, cranking up the energy with her unreleased single “No Toques Mi Pelo,” which she said translates to a sassy “Don’t Touch My Hair.”
Although it felt like a shortened set, with her almost completely skipping over her 2014 debut album The Art of Chill, Nitty Scott’s show was still a fun one to go to. She has started to find her sound with her most recent releases, digging into her Spanish roots and putting more of that cultural flavour in her songs, even rapping bilingual, and it’s made her most recent work that much more enjoyable. Being a huge No Panty fan, I wanted to hear more songs off of that album like “Spanish Fly,” “The Afterparty,” and “No Panty Anthem,” but we still got a solid segment from the album with good energy. Nitty Scott likely has her best work still ahead of her, and we’ll look forward to hearing more new material and seeing her on more tours in the future.
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