Daniel Caesar shines in his return to Toronto

By Xavier Eeswaran

Grammy award-winning artist, Daniel Caesar, brought his Case Study 01: Tour for two sold-out shows to Budweiser Stage on Sept. 28 and 29. Caesar’s set on Sept. 29 began with the opening skit of his newest album’s first song, “ENTROPY,” which was accompanied with black and red visuals shown on the curtains.

After the skit ended, Toronto hip-hop pioneer Kardinal Offishall ran out of the curtains before giving a UFC-esque intro for Oshawa-born Daniel Caesar, while the background singers sang the vocals to “CYANIDE.”

The crowd roared as Caesar ran out and held the microphone to the audience to sing the lyrics before he jumped in. Caesar, wearing a white t-shirt and black joggers, was visibly in awe of the approximately 16,000 fans. 

“I’ve been a lot of places on tour and there’s nowhere like home,” said Caesar before the crowd responded with a roar. His performance of “CYANIDE” included a previously unheard verse from Jamaican teenage sensation Koffee, who has been the opener for the majority of shows thus far on the Case Study 01: Tour. 

After his electric opener, Caesar followed up with his performance of “Love Again.” Soon after, he demonstrated his range as a vocalist as he sat on a stool and sang stripped down versions of “OPEN UP,” “VIOLET” and “COMPLEXITIES.” He then showcased his versatility as an artist, grabbing an acoustic guitar for “Hold Me Down” and “ARE YOU OK?”

Caesar’s band performed the entire night behind a transparent black curtain, accompanied by two background singers to his left and right. The singers came behind Caesar with guitar in hand for their performance of “TOO DEEP TO TURN BACK,” which made for a great live performance, as the track is built solely on an acoustic guitar and background vocals. The show featured fantastic visuals for every song, such as a beautiful visual of Kali Uchis behind Caesar for “Get You,” and a pole dancer for “Who Hurt You?”

The highlight of the show was his rendition of “SUPERPOSITION,” where the crowd was lit up with cellphone lights and lighters resembling stars shining in the night sky. 

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Highly Blessed and Highly Favoured

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Photo courtesy danielcaesar on Instagram

Daniel Caesar will return to Canada for the tail-end of his tour with shows in Montreal, Halifax, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Edmonton before wrapping up with two shows in Vancouver.

The 24 year-old young star has come a very long way from singing on park tables in Trinity Bellwoods.

Canadian artists breaking into the mainstream

Some of the highest-selling and best-known artists in the world are Canadians, but how does it happen?

Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco. (Courtesy Imnotcmjames/Wikimedia Commons)

Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco. (Courtesy Imnotcmjames/Wikimedia Commons)

By Manus Hopkins

Drake is one of the most popular hip-hop artists in the world right now, outselling numerous American peers. A slew of pop-punk bands that rose to prominence in the 2000s included Canadian groups: Sum 41, Billy Talent, and Simple Plan, some of the biggest names in the scene. Canadian pop stars Celine Dion and Shania Twain are among the top 30 highest-selling musical artists of all time.

Video courtesy Atlantic Records via YouTube

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was established in 1968. The CRTC is responsible for establishing the famous Canadian content, or Can con, requirements that radio and TV broadcasters have to include a certain percentage of content made by Canadians in their programming.

This has gone a long way to help Canadian musicians get airtime — in Canada. But there are Canadian artists who rank among some of the biggest of all time in their genres on a global scale as well. There are many Canadian artists who have broken into both American and British-ruled mainstream music scenes.

While Canada has steadily produced world-class pop stars and rock bands over the years, the simple truth remains that to make it big globally, artists have to make it in the United States. For some Canadian artists, a step towards worldwide stardom is working with well-established American names, like Toronto artist SAFE collaborating with Playboi Carti and Sean Leon now working with Kanye West.

Some of the most promising stars across a variety of genres right now are from Canada. Many Canadian artists have achieved international stardom in the past two decades, going back to pop singers like Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber, and Carly Rae Jepsen in the 2000s. More recently, we have seen the rise of hip-hop and R&B artists Drake and The Weeknd, as well as singer-songwriters Mac DeMarco and Shawn Mendes this past decade. 

Video Courtesy CapturedTracks via YouTube

There are older Canadian mainstays who remain relevant cultural forces today as well. Neil Young, Bryan Adams and Leonard Cohen all place in the top 15 highest-selling Canadian artists of all time, and their works are now considered Canadian classics. 

Video Courtesy clydeman via YouTube

There are Canadian bands who are lumped in with leagues of American and British counterparts, like speed metal veterans Anvil in the ‘80s thrash scene and Rush with the ‘70s progressive rock icons. But Canada has given birth to unique scenes of its own as well, with both Brtish Columbia and Ontario becoming home to punk scenes in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Some of B.C.’s groups, like D.O.A. and Dayglo Abortions, are now grouped in with classic punk bands like Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks and Bad Religion. While hardcore punk never went mainstream, Canadian artists have still dominated underground movements in addition to popular music.

Video Courtesy Epitaph Records via YouTube

While Canada is still not a musical empire like the United States or England just yet, it is well on its way. The shift won't happen overnight, but with so many emerging artists representing Canadian music on a global scale, heads are being turned towards Canada as a country, not just a select few Canadian artists squeezed into American scenes. 

With the music industry changing, an overload of new music is available at the fingertips of potential fans. This means it can be both easier and more difficult for Canadian artists to get their names and music out there. On one hand, listeners can find music much more easily in the age of streaming. On the other hand, with nearly 40,000 songs uploaded to Spotify daily, independent artists can find their music lost in a digital sea.  

With a new decade approaching and the music industry still rapidly changing, it’s hard to predict who Canada’s next breakthrough artists will be. There are some groups stirring up a buzz right now, like The Jerry Cans out of Iqaluit, who combine traditional Inuit throat singing with folk and country styles, and First Nations hip hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids, based out of Vancouver. Both groups have been sneaking into the spotlight lately, and have the potential to be some of Canada’s next mainstream artists. 

With the emerging talent Canada is producing right now, one thing is for sure — people aren’t just looking to America for new music anymore. 

Yung Tory’s new EP is the comeback he deserves

By Will Lofsky

Photo courtesy yungtory on Instagram

Yung Tory’s major-label debut, Still Here, is sure to rebuild his status in Toronto.

After a tough year for Tory, the project shows that he is still having fun and really in his element, with a brand new project on Def Jam executively produced by Timbaland.

His energetic, high-pitched, melodic vocals and signature low, mumbled verses and ad-libs on tracks like “Aww Shit” and “I Wanna Rock” shine over the simple, tough trap beats that got him noticed in Toronto and Atlanta. 

Tory can do much more than make bangers though, and his wavy, synth-heavy pop and R&B tunes, spanning the majority of his project, show both sides of his loud, outgoing personality. The songs “Lola” featuring Lauren Sanderson, and “Said You Love Me” are radio hits waiting to happen.

Video courtesy yungtory via YouTube

Tory’s previous album, Rastar, which featured major artists — Fenix Flexin from Shoreline Mafia, Uno The Activist, Valee, and Fetty Wap — had some fantastic records and was a great way to address the Toronto rap scene that roasted him after a video of him getting beaten up and robbed by his former manager leaked on 6ixBuzz TV.

If he had not responded the next day on Instagram, his career may have died last year. Ever since then, Tory has struggled to maintain relevance and lost fans despite millions of streams online. Critics were even calling upon Lil Durk, one of the key influencers of drill music and founder of Tory’s previous label, Only the Family, to remove him from their roster.

Since the incident, Tory has clearly been making moves despite Toronto’s disloyalty, from his collaboration with popping Italian rapper, Dref Gold, on the song “Stop Cappin,” to his interview on No Jumper, and several releases on WorldStar’s channel. 

While it may still be a long road for Tory to glow up again in Toronto, he certainly is on his way with over 800,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, his hard work and perseverance is bound to pay off.

Language Arts: Soothing the soul through forward thinking art pop

By Tashon Daley

Image courtesy    Language Arts “Neighbour” Official Video    - Director of Photography Charles Hutchings

Image courtesy Language Arts “Neighbour” Official Video - Director of Photography Charles Hutchings

Kristen Cudmore swiftly plays her guitar while her serene vocals fill the room, her eyes focusing intently on the words from a songbook she created. The sounds echoing from guitarist Patrick O’Reilly’s guitar causes Cudmore to pause for a moment.

Depending on the nature of the song, Cudmore might say that it needs Patrick's “touch.” O’Reilly, who mainly plays the guitar, is also the driving force behind the synths of the songs. Amidst their discussion, drummer Neil MacIntosh comes up with an innovative approach that will alter their tune.

With help from the rest of the band, they remove the legs of the drums. MacIntosh then bangs the legs together, allowing for strange and unexpected sounds to emerge. Then, a strong baseline kicks in, prompting synth bass player Chris Pruden to extend it until there are two parts.

“I like this baseline,” he says as the floor shakes.

This is just another day of practice and the music making process for the Canadian art-pop band, Language Arts. They work on every aspect of their music together.

With support from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), to which the band acknowledges as a game-changer for Ontario artists, Language Arts is dropping their brand new album, Lemon/Lime, this fall.

The OAC is a government agency that provides funds for artistic projects in Ontario. With financial support from them, Language Arts can afford to pay Grammy-winning producers.

Lemon/Lime, the band’s third album, sets itself apart from Wonderkind (2014) and Able Island (2015); taking on more of an electronic sound.

“Somehow, we made it onto some EDM playlists. I don’t know how, but cool. I like EDM,” says Cudmore, “It definitely has … a storm kind of sense to it.”

She says that drum and synth sounds, combined with effects pedals create their “own little flavour.”

For Language Arts, this album is a perfect opportunity to explore different genres. Cudmore says that she has always admired how artists like Beck manage to make each record different.

For Language Arts, a change in genre is a glimpse into the artist’s vision and approach to songwriting.

“I think that there’s nothing wrong with just being who you are and if you don’t fit in a genre, so be it. Just make songs that you want to hear,” says Cudmore.

Produced by Grammy-winner David Bottrill, and Juno-winning producer Joel Stouffer, Language Arts got the perfect collaborative approach the band was looking for.

On April 5, the band dropped their first single for Lemon/Lime called “Against the Wind.” The song is an explosion of sound, bursting with synth bass beats that balance Cudmore’s soothing voice.

Steady, pulsating drum rhythms bring a stronger emphasis to the chorus. Cudmore needed to find the perfect way to “give them an excuse to break out.”

She says that writing the song happened quickly. In order to process her writing, she shut herself into her room and brought out her loop pedal, creating multiple layers to which she could sing along to. Cudmore then used her keyboard to set up baselines for pre-choruses.

Video courtesy LanguageArtsMusic via YouTube

Accompanying the song is an equally artistic music video. Visuals with bright colours of faces and creative lines move at the pace of the song. The band themselves collaborate on the artwork used in their videos.

Following the song’s release, Cudmore couldn’t hold back her excitement. It was everything she wanted it to be — heavy, yet uplifting. She said she floated off onto cloud nine as soon as she popped the headphones into her ears and pressed play.

“I didn’t hear it in that kind of capacity outside of the studio for a few weeks … and then I went out and went into it and I was dancing like a crazy person.”

While some songs from Lemon/Lime are relatable to everyday situations, others are deep and personal. Even her band members, she says, allow her the intimacy of practising emotional parts of these songs. Cudmore’s emotional trauma comes from her horrifying experience in a car accident in which she was hit by a drunk driver and suffered a brain injury.

At this time, Cudmore was required to attend physiotherapy appointments and take medications— all of which came out of her pocket. She was in and out of the hospital for months and would encounter multiple flare ups stemming from different symptoms.

“My brain would work in different ways where I would remember things that happened to me when I was younger that were really traumatic,” says Cudmore.

However, Cudmore did not expect for her recurring suppressed memories to become the driving force of the music for the record. Many of the songs were written in the hospital.

Cudmore was taken to a psychology unit to be evaluated, where she stayed in for six days. It felt like a jail to her, as she was prohibited from being in the room by herself and having restrictions on electronics. The environment was stressful at first, but Cudmore was able to turn to her music to soothe her soul.

Image courtesy    Language Arts “Neighbour” Official Video    - Director of Photography Charles Hutchings

Image courtesy Language Arts “Neighbour” Official Video - Director of Photography Charles Hutchings

With permission from the staff, she was allowed to go to an observation room close by the nursing station, or sometimes she would stay in her room with the door opened.

“I just sat in there and wrote,” Cudmore says, “Those were the two places that I would go to just to, kind of, write down my thoughts and my lyrics.”

While the album recalls deeply personal moments Cudmore went through, there are also a number of moments that any listener can relate to.

In Lemon/Lime, Cudmore nods towards the growth of movements like #MeToo or the narratives on privilege and other popular topics of awareness.

Language Arts plans on doing two more shows in Toronto, the first being at Monarch Tavern on May 23 and the second and final show during the fall after the full record has been released.

Following the shows, Language Arts will be taking a break due to the brain injury that Cudmore still suffers from.

“The amount of stimulation that I experienced in Toronto just makes me feel sick when I’m not working,” she says.

To help recover, Cudmore plans on moving back home to Nova Scotia with her partner, her supportive service dog, Sprout, and his little adoptive brother. They plan on living near the sea, with the band communicating long-distance during their break. In the meantime, Cudmore’s artistic nature will not stop her from making music.

“There is no other species in the world that's so aware of the art they're making and expressing themselves through it. There are only humans,” said Cudmore. “So, I'm hoping that it will become more important in this society and the world because it really makes people's lives worth living.”

Tequila Nosedive steals the show at Ryerson’s Battle of the Bands

By Federico Sierra

Tequila Nosedive performing “It’s OK Keep Dancing.” (CanCulture/Federico Sierra)

Tequila Nosedive performing “It’s OK Keep Dancing.” (CanCulture/Federico Sierra)

Ryerson rock group, Tequila Nosedive, won the seventh annual Musicians@Ryerson’s Battle of the Bands, sweeping the two biggest awards of the night.

The first place was determined by the judges of the competition: David Cramb, a member of the board of directors for the Sled Island Music and Arts Festival in Calgary, Ian Heath, director of marketing for Dine Alone Records, and Zack Leighton, administrative director to Riverfest Elora. The other prize of the night, the People’s Choice Award, was determined by the loudest support from the audience.

Along with the praise of both audience and judges, the band also won a spot to play at the Riverfest Elora Music Festival, plus a paid show by the Ryerson Students’ Union.

The lineup for this year’s competition featured Scarlett’s Hand, Misunderstood Ninja, Tequila Nosedive, Gavin McLeod, Bad News Bois and The High Loves.

Tequila Nosedive delivered an electrifying performance with their bangers, “It’s OK Keep Dancing,” “Sex,” and “Strawberry Blonde.” As the wailing guitar riffs and loud, obnoxious punk vocals smashed through the speakers, a mosh pit formed, leaving the audience drenched in sweat, and begging for an encore.

“The guys knew what they wanted to do and what they wanted to say,” said judge David Cramb. “Great vibes and great energy.”

Runner-up to the People’s Choice Award were the Bad News Bois. The song, “Eff’d My Mood Up” had a sweet and meditative vibe that sent shivers through the audience.

Judge Ian Heath particularly admired the soft “speaking” vocal style of the lead singer.

“I was moved by the raw emotion of the band’s on-stage performance,” said Heath.

Bad News Bois performing “Eff’d My Mood Up.” (CanCulture/ Federico Sierra)

Bad News Bois performing “Eff’d My Mood Up.” (CanCulture/ Federico Sierra)

A powerful and historic evening, this year’s Battle of the Bands showcased some of the finest musicians on campus and set the tone for years to come.

Artist Profile: Hudson Alexander

Toronto producer Hudson Alexander never slows down

By Manus Hopkins

Hudson Alexander is a Toronto-based music producer and artist (CanCulture/Manus Hopkins)

Hudson Alexander is a Toronto-based music producer and artist (CanCulture/Manus Hopkins)

Originally from Winnipeg, 26-year-old musician and producer Hudson Alexander is making a name for himself in Toronto’s music scene. Surrounded by music since he was young, Alexander naturally picked up guitar as a teen. He’s come a long way from his original musical roots playing in high school bands.

“I would just record songs on my own,” said Alexander, “I’d do random guitar parts and then use MIDI and drum samples or whatever I could find. When I joined a band I kept making music like that until eventually that became more fun to me than being in bands.”

When Alexander was drafting up songs himself before showing them to his bandmates, he found a penchant for producing his own music and stopped bringing all his material to them. After high school, he got more serious about recording and started to explore what he could bring to the music scene. Since then, he has become more independent by pursuing his own passions.

Eventually, Alexander outgrew Winnipeg as a musician and decided that Toronto would be a better place for finding opportunities in the industry.

“It was a pretty snap decision...I didn’t really have a lot of time to think about it,” he said. “But I was just getting bored of Winnipeg. I was trying to do more DJing and playing more dance music and stuff like that, but there was no scene for that there.”

When it comes to his work process, Alexander said it’s usually pretty loose before ideas really come together.

“When I’m starting a beat, I’ll sit down and mess around with different notes and sounds and stuff to find something that I like,” said Alexander. “I get ideas out as quick as I can, and then if I’m really feeling something I’ll spend more time to expand on it, structure it, and arrange it.”

Alexander has worked with a variety of rappers and singers, making beats, tracks and handling production duties. He cites fellow artists HUSH., teddybear and his old Winnipeg friend smrtdeath as the “OG dudes” he first started working with.

Last October, Alexander and HUSH. released a seven-song album together, a project Alexander says he is particularly proud of. They spent nearly a year working on the record.

“We started working together when we were both pretty new to what we were doing,” said Alexander.

“It was right as I was making the transition from making electronic and solo music to doing more beats and working with artists, and it was when [HUSH.] was taking more of a front seat to music. He was becoming more of a rapper and more of a vocalist.”

The album is called You’re Just Miserable and can be heard on Spotify, Soundcloud and all other streaming platforms.

“It was really beneficial for both of us,” he said, “We’re both super happy with how the project turned out. In some songs you can hear the progression, going ‘these are the older songs’ and ‘these are the newer songs.’ It’s crazy.”

Alexander is currently working on his next project, an album in collaboration with rapper Boy Pape (formerly known as Brick), with whom Alexander has collaborated before. It will be released on April 5, and is also a short album, similar to the one Alexander made with HUSH.

“It doesn’t feel like an EP because we worked really hard on it and tried to make it an actual cohesive, well-sequenced, diverse project,” says Alexander. “I’m really excited about that. I’m currently in the manic stages, trying to mix it and listening to it a million times. I’m kind of going crazy about it right now, but I’m super excited.”

Alexander is producing the whole album, which was recorded in his bedroom.

“That’s how I do all my music,” he says. “I’m a super control freak about stuff like that. I like to record, mix, master and everything myself.”

The song “Madness” has already been released as a single.

“This year I’m trying to put out more of those little projects,” says Alexander. “Last year I was mostly focused on being able to drop a cool song every couple of weeks or so, and get a lot of content out.”

Alexander says releasing longer projects instead of singles is rewarding, and a better way to attract lasting attention.

“If you’re just doing one song every week or so, you’re putting out music, but it gets forgotten as time goes and you stack up more songs. These little projects feel more important, so I’m trying to do more of those.”

Check out Hudson Alexander on Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.

Daniel Caesar: Behind the genre-defying sound and soul

By Will Lofsky

Feature image courtesy Sean Brown and Keavan Yazdani via danielcaesar on Instagram

Toronto’s music scene has drastically changed over the decade from Drake-inspired moody R&B to auto-tuned trap that very few musicians have failed to stand out, with the exception of Daniel Caesar, also known as Canada’s Frank Ocean.

Ashton Simmonds, better known as Daniel Caesar, is the 23-year-old Grammy Award winning songwriter, musician, and incredible vocalist from Oshawa, Ont. He first made his way to Toronto after getting expelled from his Christian high-school and kicked out of the house by his father for selling a small amount of weed to another student.

Times were not easy for Caesar. He worked dead-end jobs and once slept on a park bench in Trinity Bellwoods Park between couch surfing at friend’s homes. “There were low points,” Caesar told Exclaim! “And I know that I could go back home, if it really came down to that.”

Growing up in a religious household that did not support secular music influenced Caesar’s gospel-infused, genre-defying blend of soul, rock, pop, and jazz. Through deep, reflective tracks about sex, love, money, spirituality and longing, Caesar connects to his audience in a way that so many artists cannot.

Caesar first built momentum off of his independently-released EPs Birds of Paradise, Praise Break, and Pilgrim’s Paradise, which featured a collaboration with long-term friend and co-founder of the IXXI Initiative, Sean Leon, and BADBADNOTGOOD, a world-renowned Jazz band formed by Humber College students in 2010.

After connecting with Kali Uchis for his Grammy nominated hit, “Get You,” which now has 75 million views on YouTube and 200 million streams on Spotify, Caesar began performing more regularly and putting together his debut album, Freudian.

Following the success of “Get You,” Caesar prepared for his take-over, “It was kind of like this is our moment,” said Caesar to Exclaim! “We knew that if we put out a subpar project, we could lose all the momentum.”

Once released, Freudian blew up and landed the #1 on iTunes top charts with “Get You” and “Best Part” featuring H.E.R going platinum in Canada and the US. In 2017, Freudian won a Juno for R&B/ Soul recording of the year, and earned two Grammy nominations; one for Best R&B Album and one for Best R&B Performance of “Get You.”

As Freudian continued to take over 2018, Caesar became the first male in history to land his first two commercial singles “Get You” and “Best Part” on the #1 spot of Billboard’s Adult R&B chart. Caesar closed off the year with a surprise single called “Who Hurt You?” a beautiful slow jam with rich harmonies, psychedelic, phased-out guitar riffs, and smooth, raw vocals that sound like you’re in the studio with him.

Now internationally recognized, Caesar’s “Best Part” won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance on stage of the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019.  

While still early on his career, it’s safe to say that Caesar has made a lasting impact on Toronto and will continue to inspire the next generation of singers in the city and GTA.

Review: Anvil at The Rockpile West

Toronto’s speed metal veterans got heavy with hometown fans last Friday

By Manus Hopkins

Anvil frontman Steve “Lips” Kudlow delivers a real rock ‘n’ roll show to a crowd of diehard fans on March 8. (CanCulture/Manus Hopkins)

Anvil frontman Steve “Lips” Kudlow delivers a real rock ‘n’ roll show to a crowd of diehard fans on March 8. (CanCulture/Manus Hopkins)

It’s not so common anymore to see the living, breathing legends of days past up close and personal in venues like The Rockpile. You get the dinosaur bands who tour once or twice a decade through big-city stadiums, or the washed-up acts you might catch mid-day at some county fair with one or two original members. The band in question tonight falls into neither of these categories.

A couple hundred fans have flocked out for the first of two nights in Toronto on Anvil’s ‘Pounding the Pavement’ 2019 tour. There is even a surprisingly high number of fans who come early to see sets from four local support acts. Old-school heavy metal group Injustice, hard rock cover band Rotten Candy and heavy rock trio Down the Void each play a half hour set to an enthusiastic audience. The main support band, Caym, rips through a ferocious but unexpectedly short set, and at midnight the real event begins.

Main support act, Caym, bring their raw energy to to the Rockpile and leave with a few new fans. (CanCulture/Manus Hopkins)

Main support act, Caym, bring their raw energy to to the Rockpile and leave with a few new fans. (CanCulture/Manus Hopkins)

Immediately upon taking the stage, Anvil frontman and guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow jumps off and snakes his way into the crowd, where he stays for the opening song, an instrumental, “March of the Crabs.” The people who surround Kudlow are the same diehards who have supported his band for decades, and when he returns to the stage, the band wastes no time ripping into fan favourite “666.”

Kudlow shows his signature way of introducing “666” off of 1982’s  Metal on Metal.  (CanCulture/Manus Hopkins)

Kudlow shows his signature way of introducing “666” off of 1982’s Metal on Metal. (CanCulture/Manus Hopkins)

Formed back in 1978, Anvil was a huge influence on many bands that made up the emerging thrash metal scene in the early 1980s. Infamous thrashers like Slayer, Anthrax and the highest-selling metal band of all, Metallica, have all cited Anvil as an inspiration.

Unfortunately, it would be decades before the group gained the recognition they deserved.

Anvil’s career-spanning set incorporates material from their 1981 debut album Hard ‘n’ Heavy, all the way up to their most recent record, 2018’s Pounding the Pavement. With 17 albums under their belt, there’s a lot of ground for Anvil to cover. They don’t rely on the nostalgia factor, though. Newer tunes like “Bitch in the Box” and “Badass Rock ‘n’ Roll” fit nicely in the set alongside the classics.

That’s not to say songs that were written over 30 years ago like “Winged Assassins” and “Mothra” don’t still manage to sound fresh. The old records might be dated by today’s standards with the advancements in recording technology, but there’s still a magic to them that isn’t often captured in the digital age.

It’s easy to see that the members of Anvil are genuinely having fun onstage, but there are touching moments in Kudlow’s banter as well. He takes some time to recount stories of partying with late Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister in the early 80s, and acknowledges the impact the incredibly moving 2008 documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil had on the band’s career.

Before the success of the movie, Kudlow and fellow Anvil founder, drummer Robb Reiner, stuck it out as a band, but struggled to the point of having to work dead-end day jobs while they weren’t on tour. After a few words about the film, Kudlow tells the crowd he hasn’t had to deliver meals for 10 years, sparking a huge cheer through the venue.

The worst days are behind them: Anvil can now rock out onstage and go home with a paycheck. (CanCulture/Manus Hopkins)

The worst days are behind them: Anvil can now rock out onstage and go home with a paycheck. (CanCulture/Manus Hopkins)

Anvil has been called the real-life version of the fictional band from the 1984 mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, and it shows in their performance. A bass solo, a guitar solo (for which Kudlow swaps out his pick for a vibrator) and a bombastic drum solo all find their way into the 90-minute show. The main set closes with Canadian heavy metal anthem Metal on Metal, and if there are any doubts that Anvil has still got their fire, this song alone is enough to dispel them. This is a veteran band that hasn’t lost a bit of its edge over its 40-year career. Not bad for a group of guys in their 60s.

Opinion: Tory Lanez’s Constant Need for Attention

The Toronto rapper constantly makes headlines with his penchant for starting conflicts

Photo courtesy of Anton Mak/The Come Up Show/Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Anton Mak/The Come Up Show/Wikimedia Commons

By Manus Hopkins

Having a hard time keeping up with all the feuds Tory Lanez keeps seeming to land himself in? You aren’t the only one. The 26-year-old Brampton rapper has earned himself a load of publicity taking shots at some of the biggest names in the industry.

Lanez has been on the music scene, putting out mixtapes since 2009 and has risen to fame over the past 10 years. After being picked up by Mad Love and Interscope Records, his first full-length studio album, I Told You, was released in 2016. Though his music has received critical acclaim, he has still found other ways to continue reeling in attention.

Lanez’ oldest and longest-running feud was with Toronto superstar Drake. It dates back to as early as 2010, when Lanez was just a teenager. It all started with a callout from Lanez, and in 2015 he dropped a mixtape called New Toronto, which some saw as a slight to Drake, the reigning king of Toronto’s rap scene. Drake even name dropped Lanez’ mixtape in his song “Summer Sixteen,” rapping “all you boys in the new Toronto wanna be me a little.”

Though they buried the hatchet in May 2017, the two rappers spent a few years continuing to make vague jabs at each other on their tracks. When the end of their beef became Instagram official, Lanez didn’t waste a lot of time busying himself with other high-profile conflicts.

Lanez’ feud with Drake had earned him a great deal of publicity. For better or worse, it made people notice him and pay attention to him in a way they hadn’t before. With his name in the headlines, he was able to attract more potential listeners. It seems as if getting himself into disputes with other stars proved to be a way for him to stay relevant.

Lanez began using Twitter as a new platform to throw insults at his contemporaries, starting more feuds and gaining more attention. He had short-lived public disputes with artists such as Jacquees in February 2016. Later that year, Lanez also had a fiery dispute with rapper Travis Scott, of which eventually led to an in-person confrontation where blows were almost thrown.

In some cases, the hostility between Lanez and his rivals blew over quickly. Other contentions have lasted longer and continued into the present. A still-ongoing war of words ignited in 2017 between Lanez and Eric Bellinger after Bellinger accused Lanez of trying to steal his tag, twice. By this point, Lanez had become known for landing himself in hot water with other rappers, and he hasn’t failed to uphold this reputation.

Lanez started to step up his game in 2018 and throw more disses and challenges wherever he could. His ego-tripping got him into trouble with rapper Joyner Lucas and another tweet at the expense of Royce 5’9” created animosity between the two. The rifts were settled with a couple of diss tracks and an apology respectively, but Lanez’s more recent feuds haven’t ended just yet.

We’re only a few months into 2019, but it’s already been a busy year for Lanez and his pot-stirring. Not all of Lanez’s contemporaries share the view that he is “The best rapper alive right now,” as he not-so-subtly proclaimed in a tweet.

Some rappers took issue with Lanez’s self-praise, including Mysonne and Don Q, whose accusations that Lanez stole his rhymes earned him a diss track from Lanez, titled “Don Queen.” Lanez has also claimed he could outrap prominent artists: J. Cole, Pusha T and every artist on Dreamville Records.

Maybe Lanez is clever and knows igniting feuds is a good way to keep his name on everyone's lips and doesn’t mind the integrity it costs him. Or maybe he’s just insecure and needs to prove he is the best rapper around for his own validation. Either way, he’s sure to be back in the headlines soon enough with more drama.

Get to Know: Drew Yorke, the Toronto-based creative who works harder than you do

By Will Lofsky

Photo courtesy  mr.koa

Photo courtesy mr.koa

At just 23, Drew Yorke has become a contributing editor and staff photographer for lifestyle and culture publication Sidewalk Hustle, started his own video podcast, The Drew Yorke Show out of the Red Bull office on Queen Street West and completed a joint-degree in media studies and journalism at the University of Guelph-Humber.

What separates Ottawa-born Yorke from most 23-year-olds is his relentless drive to turn his show into a regular press stop for international artists, produce live concerts and video performance segments like BBC Radio 1’s “Fire in the Booth”, and to help cultivate the next wave of upcoming rap and R&B artists in the city - all while keeping up with growing Toronto rent prices.

We got together at a coffee shop in Parkdale to talk about his story, what he’s got going on right now and his plans moving forward. Read the full interview below.

What made you want to get into journalism?

I’ve been a fan of interviews on Hot97 and the Breakfast Club for a long time now. Every day I wake up and I watch all of those shows. Even when I was younger and more into video games I would watch news shows and stuff like Machinima. When it came time to go to school, I went for a multimedia program and focused on journalism later on. I don’t really know what drew me towards it. I think I used to want to be a real, hard news journalist but I quickly realized that I didn’t want to get that serious. I like talking about stuff I care about. Even though hard news is really exciting, it’s exhausting.  

How long have you worked as a photographer?

I started doing that in early 2015. So, I guess almost four years now but I started taking it really seriously in the beginning of 2017.

Do you have management?

No. It gets busy, but it’s not overwhelming. A lot of my work is based in the city. I’ve travelled a little bit for brand stuff, but it’s all pretty manageable. It’d be cool to be at that point where it’s not manageable, but I guess that’s a little scary too. I’m still in the place right now where I think I’m just saying yes to a lot of people.

Where have you travelled to?

I’ve been to Vancouver a couple of times to shoot and write. I know some artists out there like So Loki, ANKLEGOD and Yurmsauce and I was working with a cannabis brand out there called Emerald Health Canada. There’s also a festival in Quebec City that I go to a lot called Festival d’ete de Quebec. It’s a huge festival - they go all out for like eleven days. Last summer I saw The Weeknd, Neil Young, and Future headlining over three nights with a bunch of other acts. It’s crazy.

How’d you get in touch with Sidewalk Hustle?

HYPEBEAST posted a photo I took of an Atlanta artist named Raury at Adelaide Hall and the location tag on the post said it was taken in Toronto. Sidewalk Hustle saw it and DM’d me asking if I was from Toronto and how much I charged. I gave them my rate and started working for them. About a year later they were like, “Do you write?” and I wasn’t really writing about music or anything but my writing had always been pretty good so I said yes. Eventually they started sending me more opportunities and I would write about the shows I was going to as well as photograph them. One day they asked me if I could interview an artist, and I always thought about it, but I had never done it yet. The first one I ever did was with Phantogram. That’s how I got into interviewing.

When did The Drew Yorke Show start to come together?

I’ve wanted to do it for years but six months ago I started thinking that I wanted to take the idea seriously. I don’t really put things on paper, I kind of work them out in my head. The only thing I was missing was a name. I had bought mics, I had a location, I had equipment, I had some potential guests, and a quick format of how I wanted to do it. I slowly worked out all of the details but couldn’t figure out a name for it. I didn’t know what to call it. I think I just got fed up that I had no name and eventually I decided that I was going to call it The Drew Yorke Show. I thought that people were going to think that I was too cocky but people were into it. I was always behind the camera, and that’s the reason why I started doing interviews because I wanted to be on camera and be part of the story.

What’s the plan moving forward?

I really want to do a live performance segment. I haven’t really put the pieces together for that yet but there are so many people that do stuff like “Fire In The Booth” so I want to do a sick job. I want to do live events too. I think that strategic partnerships for live events and for anything I do with the brand is really important. I realized that particularly when trying to promote friends and other artists - I can only put the same cover of a song on my Instagram story so many times. There’s only the same 500 people that are seeing it and that’s not even the best way to reach people.

If I did a partnership with a music festival where I had a little set-up somewhere doing live interviews it would be way better for storytelling. I got emailed today by somebody saying, “I haven’t seen you out at any events since the new year,” and it reminds me of how puzzled I feel by how I’m going to break through and not be a part of my same little bubble. It’s really easy to get trapped in your own little comfort zone, thinking that you’re doing something cool with the same people around telling you how what you’re doing is sick and not moving forward. Toronto’s only so big. I want to be bigger.

For example, there’s a Spanish rapper named Kidd Keo. I really want to interview him. I think he has a lot of potential for western crossover - he has millions of followers and sells out huge venues in South America and Spain. And all I have to do is go to Spain. It’s all in my hands.

Who do you really want to work with in the city?

Do you know Nue? I like his music a lot. I’ve done some stuff with him before and he said he wants to be on the show. When he started to break through people didn’t really support him. The usual people that get behind artists that start to get popping weren’t really into it. I’m not sure if that’s because he signed to an American label so quickly, or because his music is so different, but I like his work a lot. That’s somebody I think I would like to work with more.

LocoCity is one for sure. He’s getting really good numbers and his music is interesting. There’s a new kid named Velow that just finished graduating from The Remix Project. His voice is unique, and I think he has a lot of potential in the US market.

It’s funny. I want to work with more Toronto artists but I also want to get every single American artist that comes to Toronto on my show - and I realize that it’s a process. If an artist is going to New York, they’re going to stop in at The Breakfast Club or Hot 97 or Sway. If they go out to LA, they’re going to stop at No Jumper and Big Boy. It’s a press run. That doesn’t even exist in Toronto. People are going to say “You’re going to Toronto? Are you going to see Drew Yorke?”

For more on Drew Yorke tune into his show and follow him on Instagram @drewyorke.

This interview has been edited by Drew Yorke for clarity in his responses

Lil Uzi Vert and Juice Wrld headline Western’s Purple Fest

Western alum, Loud Luxury, and multi-platinum producer, Murda Beatz also performed at the six-hour long day festival during FOCO last Saturday in London, Ont.

Clad in a ski-mask with four bags hanging off of his shoulders, Lil Uzi Vert performs in the on-campus parking lot turned festival venue. Photo / Benjamin Hargreaves

Clad in a ski-mask with four bags hanging off of his shoulders, Lil Uzi Vert performs in the on-campus parking lot turned festival venue. Photo / Benjamin Hargreaves

By: Benjamin Hargreaves

The sold-out festival at Western University went off without a hitch last Saturday, but that might not have been a good thing.

The concert, organized by Western University’s Student Council, sold out of its 12,000 tickets with the Western WSC stating that, at its peak, there were over 11,000 in attendance.

Purple Fest was a mid-day music festival organized by Western’s USC in a bid to draw unsanctioned partiers off residential streets.

The consensus of the crowd was that Grammy-nominated recording artist, Lil Uzi Vert, was the performer attendees were looking forward to most. This seemed to be the case as the crowd broke apart into scattered mosh pits upon his entry.

Before Uzi took the stage, Chicago rapper, Juice Wrld, performed his explosive hits Lucid Dreams and Lean Wit Me. He also covered the late XXXTENTACION’s Take a Step Back.

Other acts included Maestro, Drezo, WISE, Matt Royal and Toronto based rapper, Jordon Solomon.

With only one unspecified non life-threatening injury reported by the Western USC, they consider Purple Fest a success, but it might have caused problems in other ways.

The concert was meant to give students an alternative to partying on streets, but it might have magnified the problem, according to John Pare, London’s police chief at a news conference addressing FOCO on Tuesday.

In 2016, the university decided to move homecoming to late October as a way of deterring the illegal street parties. But the student body’s response to this decision wasn’t what the university expected.  

With the new date of homecoming plagued by midterms and colder weather, the students took to the streets on Oct. 1, 2016, for the first ever “fake homecoming” or FOCO.

London police estimated that about 10,000 people showed up in 2016 and that increased to 11,000 in 2017.

But this year was by far the biggest turn-out for FOCO with the LPS announcing Tuesday that they estimate the number of partiers to have been 20,000.

Details are still emerging about FOCO but the LPS reported that there were 134 charges, over 3,000 warnings and 28 people taken to hospital. The costs of policing alone are expected to be in excess of $100,000.

When the dust settles around FOCO we will have to wait to see if Purple Fest will make an appearance next year.