Method Man and Redman may have been the headliners for the kick-off to the 2017 Toronto Festival of Beer but an appearance by Choclair during Saukrates‘ set turned it into a reunion of ’90s Canadian hip-hop stars.
The evening got off to a strong start thanks to east coast hip-hop crew City Natives. They represented Canada’s burgeoning Indigenous hip-hop scene well and their music has a definite throwback feel. The three MCs showed an amazing flow. Though much of the set felt heavy, they lightened up at the end for their Classified-produced track “8 AM”, which had a definite ’80s feel to it.
Saukrates stole the show during his far-too-short-set. He joked that while he loved the audience, he loved beer more. He lead the audience in frequent call-and-responses and gave shout-outs to luminaries from Canada’s hip-hop scene over the past 25 years. His DJ almost ruined the surprise when Choclair joined him on stage for his hit “Let’s Ride”. Saukrates dedicated one song to the late King Reign and another to his wife, who be brought on stage. He capped off his set with “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman”, the k-os song he guests on.
Method Man and Redman kicked off their set by dedicating it to the late Prodigy of Mobb Deep. They took the audience on frequent trips back through time, right back to the seventies for a track that sampled Grandmaster Flash. They doubtlessly endeared themselves to the audience when they commented that Canada’s border is, “Hard as a motherfucker” to cross and asked how many Blue Jays fans were in the audience.
They asked if the audience could be louder than the other Canadian cities they had played, as well as their hometown of NYC. They performed a sans-Mary J. Blige version of “All I Need”. They gave their DJs a chance to shine in the spotlight with a short but impressive set. They asked if the audience wanted to see sequel to the ’90s stoner comedy How High before playing the namesake track.
They dedicated a song to their Wu-Tang Clan mate Old Dirty Bastard and played “CREAM” and brought Saukrates and Choclair back out for “Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ Ta Fuck Wit”. All that said… it was epic.