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Music

The Night I Went to Toronto & Saw the Future of Hip-Hop

Posted by Gabby / January 25, 2013

20130125_tnght.jpgEver the trendsetter, occasional MP collaborator Joey Grihalva was recently blown away by the stage antics of BadBadNotGood and TNGHT, the latter of which is playing Igloofest on Saturday. We'll overlook the fact that this piece is about an event that took place in Toronto, and enjoy the music discussion instead... deal?

"Oh, we got some Ghostface fans in the house?" Toronto DJ mymanhenri exclaimed after throwing on a classic Dini joint and hearing cheers from the half-full crowd at The Opera House.

"Is that really a question?" I thought to myself. After all, I was at a hip-hop show. Or at least that's what I thought. The genre designation that NOW Magazine assigned the headliner was simply "BASS." It's also possible that not every person born in the 1990s is familiar with the Wu-Tang Clan, considering most of the audience was in their early twenties the night I went to Toronto and saw the future of hip hop.

As soon as I stepped inside the legendary Queen Street East venue on November 29, 2012 I had a flashback to an absinthe binge in Prague a few years earlier, the night I danced for hours at an identical club and finally understood electronic dance music (EDM).

Personally, I swore off all genres of music aside from hip-hop after a friend played me a cassette tape of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). University opened my ears back up and a year in Europe exposed me to the bad, bad, and not good in techno and dubstep. But that night (and new drug) in Prague tuned me into the magic of EDM, which apparently took over the music industry in 2012.

But don't get it twisted; I'm no kandi kid. I'll take Outkast over Tïesto any day of the week. It was just that I didn't have to choose that night in Toronto. mymanhenri's set consisted mostly of EDM, with the wildest response coming on the heels of Jay-Z & Kanye West's "Niggas in Paris," which is essentially a dubstep beat. At 11:30pm a keyboard, drum set and bass guitar were huddled on stage for a local hip-hop jazz group called BadBadNotGood (BBNG).

The easiest way to describe BBNG is a stripped down version of The Roots with no emcees, made up of three young white boys rather than eight middle-aged black men. Like the rappers in Odd Future who they admire and now collaborate with, BBNG do not seem to give a fuck. A crowd-surfing lion mascot is a regular at their live shows, which bounce and mosh with a punk vibe.

BBNG stay true to their jazz roots by focusing on interpretation and improvisation; but they apply them to rap hits rather than ragtime standards. And when they aren't banging out breakneck covers, they're making their own music. In an age of mp3 swapping the trio's emphasis on in-studio interplay is an anomaly in hip-hop production.

The headliner, TNGHT, brought their laptops onto the elongated podium a little bit after midnight. I don't know what it is about all caps and an absence of vowels, but that shit is hot. The beat-making team is made up of Lunice, a digital maestro from Montreal, and Hudson Mohawke (HudMo), an electronic DJ from Glasgow.

While BBNG met in Humber College's jazz program, TNGHT first connected via MySpace, dynamics that carry over into their respective performances. BBNG play instruments and TNGHT press buttons. But that's not to detract from TNGHT's stage presence; Lunice got his Kanye dance on in the glow of an intense light show, to the delight of the packed house.

A clip of Kendrick Lamar, author of arguably the best rap record of 2012, freestyling over TNGHT's hit "Higher Ground" appeared on the Internet earlier that day. Lunice and HudMo couldn't contain their excitement during the show and a celebration was clearly in order. The duo downed a bottle of expensive vodka and what they didn't finish they sprayed on the throbbing dance floor. I was ten feet from the members of BBNG during TNGHT's set and they were bobbing their heads and jumping around with the rest of the crowd.

The night ended on an odd note as TNGHT bumped the decade old Cam'ron single "Oh Boy," a reminder that while they may currently pimp electronic bangers, they grew up banging traditional rap.

BBNG represent a return to musicianship, a rare approach in hip hop production once championed by the likes of J. Dilla and ?uestlove. TNGHT represent the inevitable intersection of EDM and hip-hop. Just add rappers to either formula and you're bound to have some of the dopest music of 2013, starting with the BBNG produced songs on Earl Sweatshirt's anticipated major label debut, Doris.

TNGHT will be on the Sapporo Stage at 9:30PM, Saturday January 26. Happy dancing!

Discussion

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