The Halloween hangover didn’t stop people from coming out to the Commodore Ballroom last Thursday night to check out some Canadian Hip-Hop Legends. The Canadian Classics Tour rolled through town headlined by Maritime rapper Classified who is on the road in support of his newest album Tomorrow Could Be The Day Things Change that dropped on Oct 12. The tour also features Maestro Fresh Wes, Choclair and a local opener at each show that was selected via a contest. Shaylen Dee was the successful winner from Vancouver that got to open the night.
Choclair came out giving it his all with classics like Rubbin and Light it Up getting the crowd into it early. There was a lot of crowd interaction and handshakes while giving props to Maestro and Classified and briefing the crowd for what the night had in store. In total he spent about 30 minutes on the stage and finished it off with Made and Let’s Ride.
After a short break Big Sleeps, who always introduces Maestro in Vancouver, got the crowd hyped for the Canadian Godfather of Hip Hop who started with Drop the Needle. At 50 years old he is the elder statesman of the group but still exuded a youthful energy, decked out in a burgundy Vancouver hat and Adidas track. He talked about how much he loved the city and how he has spent time living here over the years.
Next, he went back into his catalogue with Stick to your Vision and Criminal Minds. In between songs his DJ would play classic rock songs like Led Zeppelin and Rush explaining how he has used a lot of old rock samples in his work. He rocked a slow acapella version of ‘I Know your Mom’. Rapping it like a story he once lived. The set wouldn’t be complete without ‘Let your Backbone Slide’, the song that made him famous as the first Canadian rapper with Gold single in 1989. Until 10 years ago it was still the best selling Canadian Rap single ever. The crowd sang it word for word which Maestro happily enabled allowing people to sing into the mic. The 30 minute set ended with the Classified produced and featured song Reach for the Sky.
People hit the bar to grab a drink to wash back the nostalgia as the stage set-up changed for Classified complete with a Keyboard, DJ booth with a drum symbol, guitar for his brother Jake, an MPC and last but not least an Enfield Pizza & Grocery store backdrop. Luke and his brother Mike Boyd kicked things off with ‘Here We Go’ and then into ‘That Ain’t Classy’. New keyboardist Owen Sound who joined the group 4 months ago played a Roland RD 2000 and sang back-ups on a bunch of tracks. Right off the bat there was a lot of crowd interaction and love from Classified. He dropped a few songs (Finish It) from the new album Tomorrow Could Be The Day Things Change. He spoke to the crowd about his love for Rock and his DJ (IV) before having the crowd sing along to Tom Petty’s ‘Free Falling’.
Next he spent some time on the MPC playing some beats he has made for other people and some of his own. Then it was back to crowd pleasers like the always fun Maritimes. Sticking to the nostalgic of the night they ran through a bunch of Old Skool rap by Snoop, Wu Tang, Dr. Dre and more. Even Owen, the new addition, came out from behind the keyboards to sing a song and show off his impressive voice. With the night getting closer to being over the inevitable happened and Choclair and Maestro came out to do some songs with Classified. Packing the stage it took on a house party vibe with everyone having fun and high fiving the crowd rapping with arms around each other.
To complete the Canadian Classics Theme and pay homage to the West Coast, the crowd erupted as Red1 hit the stage for Northern Touch. After Red, Choclair and Maestro headed backstage it was time for Classified to spark a joint and sing Legal Marijuana from his new album. He passed the joint back and forth with his brother and then into his radio single from 2013 ‘Inner Ninja’ . Classified then invited two girls from the crowd up on stage, gave them mics and they sang Chad Hatchers chorus from All About You. When they had finished he got one of the girls to stage dive right into the crowd who did their best to keep her up. He then got all of his crew on stage and a few stage dove into the crowd as well.
The night was appropriately capped off with his anthem ‘Oh, Canada’. Choclair, Maestro and Red1 again graced the stage for the big finale. Everyone sang with great Canadian pride, the stage full of 4 decades of legendary Canadian Hip Hop, it was clear that fun was had by all and there is still lots of love for our Canadian hip-hop pioneers.
Words & Photos: Ronan Considine (Soundflash Photography)