Metro Metro pageant is proof of a golden age for Quebec rap – Montreal Gazette


Whereas consideration will rightly be paid to the Cardi Bs and Futures of this world after they contact down at Parc Olympique this weekend for the inaugural Metro Metro city music pageant, and not using a sturdy spine of Montreal artists it could be onerous to think about an completely rap-based fest of this magnitude ever being attainable within the first place.

Montreal has little bother attracting worldwide rap acts to its festivals and venues all year long, however all of the whereas, the native rap scene — in English and French — has been progressively constructing momentum within the shadow of the style’s greatest markets. With over a dozen Quebec acts taking part in every day, Metro Metro will function the most important meeting of native rap acts on one invoice. Ticket consumers could also be there for the massive New York and Atlanta headliners, however they could depart with an added appreciation of what’s being created inside the 514 and 450 space codes.

With a rookie pageant set to take flight, hyped releases by the likes of Fouki and Useless Obies, in addition to the upcoming launch of Loud’s anticipated album Tout ça pour ça on Could 24 — with two Bell Centre live shows, Could 31 and June 1, marking the primary time an area rapper will headline the house of the Habs — Rap Keb has by no means been hotter, and this summer season it seems poised to hit unprecedented new heights of public recognition.

For the artists concerned, an all-rap pageant is a uncommon likelihood to carry out in entrance of hundreds. A well-received set could possibly be a springboard to extra streams and extra social media follows, each very important instruments for younger acts right now.

“It feels wonderful! I really feel necessary for as soon as,” says Montreal rapper Mike Shabb, who’s releasing a brand new EP, Gloom, on Could 23, and performs Metro Metro Saturday at 1 p.m. “English-speaking rappers hardly ever get any recognition right here. It’ll really be a day to recollect. It’ll be an ideal alternative to fulfill individuals from outdoors the Quebec trade, too, which is what we’d like. Montreal is filled with gifted English-speaking artists, nevertheless it’s onerous for us out right here. We obtained rappers who’re simply as gifted as Individuals throughout the border.”

Limitations that after appeared unbreakable are actually being surpassed with relative ease. The aforementioned Bell Centre reveals by Loud represent a brand new high-water mark; beforehand, Metropolis was typically thought of the most important venue an area rap act may fill. Loud’s meteoric rise — not too long ago placed on full show within the video Fallait y aller, by which he rode the Bell Centre ice on a Zamboni in a uniquely Montreal Drake-on-the-CN-Tower-type flex — was aided by one other enormous second for the style right here: his personal Toutes les femmes savent danser changing into a crossover FM radio hit.

Francophone rap songs have crept onto the FM dial every now and then, however often have been one-offs and did little to reshape pop radio’s typical make-up. As the primary intentionally pop-friendly observe of the Rap Keb period to crack the radio code, Toutes les femmes savent danser felt like one thing totally different — like a street map to getting performed within the mainstream. It stays to be seen how different rappers will regulate their sound to placate the institution, however there’s now proof it may be performed.

Maybe extra indicative of the place radio goes total, this yr Bell Media’s iHeartRadio established its personal Rap Keb digital radio station to vie for younger listeners who way back deserted terrestrial radio for streaming and on-line sources. Streaming giants Apple Music and Spotify have their very own consistently up to date Quebec rap playlists.

Shades of Tradition have been a part of Montreal rap’s first increase.

Montreal Gazette information

Traditionally, rap in Montreal reached a primary plateau in Could-June 1998, when Dubmatique headlined Metropolis, Sans Pression performed the Spectrum and Shades of Tradition launched their sole LP, Mindstate. Since then, the style has had its ups and downs right here, largely receding into the background throughout the indie rock explosion of the 2000s.

In the beginning of this decade, issues began to perk up once more, particularly on the francophone aspect, the place Useless Obies and Loud Lary Ajust (Loud’s former group) turned a brand new technology on to an unique franglais rap fashion that didn’t attempt to copycat what was occurring in the USA. Each crews went on to fill Metropolis, sprouting quite a few aspect tasks and like-minded friends alongside the best way. In 2019 alone, it looks like per week hasn’t passed by and not using a noteworthy native rap launch or present.

Relying on the way you take a look at it, Metro Metro may both be the apex of this musical technology, or the second when rap began changing into the dominant music style in Quebec — not simply by way of exports, however amongst artists right here as nicely. In France, rap brothers PNL are at present all the fad, whereas Latin entice is having a significant second within the Spanish-speaking world, so there’s ample proof of rap’s progress outdoors of anglophone North America.

In concentrated type, Metro Metro will showcase the very best Montreal’s rap scene has to supply, minus Loud and some others (together with KGoon, who was scheduled however needed to drop out). Montrealers are used to rap acts on phases at Osheaga, Les Francos and the jazz fest, however they’ve by no means had an occasion fairly like this, with wall-to-wall rap acts for a complete weekend. Steve Jolin, founding father of influential label 7ième Ciel, which homes fest performers Alaclair Ensemble, Fouki and Zach Zoya, stated: “I feel for the followers and native artists, it will go down as one of the intense hip-hop weekends Montreal has ever skilled.”

Anybody anticipating Metro Metro to go and not using a hitch is probably not conversant in occasions akin to final weekend’s Rolling Loud pageant in Florida, the place hiccups included Lil Wayne’s no-show.

Wealthy Fury /


Nobody denies the viability and recognition of all-rap lineups, however making certain every part goes and not using a hitch could also be a idiot’s errand. Final weekend, Florida rap pageant and Metro Metro inspiration Rolling Loud celebrated its newest version. It was a combined bag fêting the most important stars in music, nevertheless it additionally featured worries of gun violence, the arrest of rapper Kodak Black (who not too long ago had a Montreal present cancelled attributable to authorized issues), a distinguished no-show (Lil Wayne) and myriad technical points.

Montreal rap followers are not any strangers to rappers’ volatility both. Final yr, the Santa Teresa Pageant in Ste-Thérèse was dealt a last-minute blow when headliners Trippie Redd, Ski Masks the Hunch God and Lil Uzi Vert all skipped out attributable to supposed border crossing troubles. It’s inevitable somebody will bail on Metro Metro, irrespective of the due diligence of organizers. On the very least, a steady of locals already on the town can choose up the slack the place wanted.

And Rolling Loud’s response on Twitter to the controversy surrounding its weekend? “And in case you didn’t take pleasure in Rolling Loud regardless of the hiccups, keep house subsequent yr … that is hip-hop.”

Metro Metro organizers and attendees could be smart to heed that recommendation and easily take pleasure in what needs to be an thrilling journey. No matter the way it goes down, there’s by no means been something prefer it in Montreal.

Requested what a pageant like Metro Metro would possibly imply for Quebec rap going ahead, and if the town can maintain a significant rap pageant yearly, Jolin responded: “Solely time will inform. However I really feel so long as the occasion presents main acts, the native acts and hip-hop generally will profit from the given publicity. Hopefully, in the future an area act will headline the pageant.”


The Metro Metro pageant takes place Saturday, Could 18 and Sunday, Could 19 on the Esplanade of Parc Olympique. The music is scheduled to start out at midday every day. Weekend passes are offered out; single-day passes value $120 for Saturday, $115 for Sunday. For extra info, see


Alaclair Ensemble: true originals might have written the definitive Quebec rap anthem.

Olivier Robitaille

Past the headliners: 5 acts to observe at Metro Metro

FouKi(Saturday, three p.m., Bud Mild Stage): The colorful world of Plateau rapper Fouki comes with its personal distinctive lexicon certain to confound listeners at first, however fairly quickly chances are you’ll begin buzzing together with the wonos and yeyeys from his newest album, ZayZay, which arrived to nice fanfare at a sold-out Membership Soda launch this month. Massively in style in Quebec, it’s onerous to image his model of linguistic spaghetti becoming elsewhere.

Zach Zoya(Saturday, 5 p.m., Motorola Stage): The Rouyn-Noranda native raps in English, which can give the 21-year-old a leg up on his friends by way of cracking the Canadian and American markets. To date his output has been minimal but tantalizing: a lean 10-minute collaborative EP with Laval producer Excessive Klassified, and a pair of singles. A commanding set finally November’s M for Montreal showcased his capacity to rile up a crowd.

Alaclair Ensemble(Saturday, 9:20 p.m., Motorola Stage): True originals within the Rap Keb area, this Quebec Metropolis crew discovered fame rewriting provincial historical past as a gaggle of oddball republican insurrectionists, however have proved adept at writing galvanizing rap hits when wanted. Working example: Ça que c’tait from the 2016 album Les Frères Cueilleurs — doo-wop outro however — would possibly go down because the definitive Quebec rap anthem when it’s all stated and performed.

Tizzo(Sunday, 1:40 p.m., Bud Mild Stage): Laval pair Tizzo and Shreez are as productive as any act within the province. They’ve churned out numerous self-released mixtapes and movies that land as a rule, with sturdy lyrical imagery to again up their toughened beats. A number one exemplar of their no-nonsense entice fashion is 2018’s On Fouette.

Enima(Sunday, 6:50 p.m., Motorola Stage): Samir Slimani could be higher recognized for his authorized troubles — he was acquitted of an unlawful weapon cost final September — however he’s a significant power in Quebec rap on-line, the place his YouTube movies rack up tens of millions of views. His newest full-length launch, De rien, got here out in March. His video for Détour, launched a month after his acquittal, doesn’t draw back from the incident.

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