By: Papa Minnow
It all started from a song that blew up to the point it became a movement, and eventually grew into the collective known today as; STAY OUT LATE. But what took place at 423 college street on Saturday felt more than that, what I experienced that night was more like a family gathering.
The third annual Full Circle event, brought in part by the amalgamation of NXNE, STAY OUT LATE and Jesso Media, was Hip Hop at it’s core. Hideout typically hosts rock events, but its spacious venue with an upper and lower bar, multiple couches for seating, ample room for dancing, and a stage that could hold a crew of 15 deep was a match made in heaven.
“Hideout usually doesn’t do this,” Tremayne, host of the Full Circle event and STAY OUT LATE affiliate, tells me prior to the festivities. “Hip Hop is growing and keeping events alive in this city.”
If Hideout was the body, Hip Hop was the blood pumping through its veins. On a night where Little Italy Festival was taking place just a block down, there was magic happening outside (I saw a magician effectively spew cards from his mouth before sticking the correctly guessed card on his forehead), and plenty to be seen inside too.
Doors were set to open at 7 pm, but some unforseen difficulties changed those plans. I decided to mingle around the neighbourhood which brought a blast from the past in the form of an artist that I knew from high school who was performing that night.
Inhabitants of the city know just how small Toronto really is. A city of five million people, yet running into someone you know seems fairly common.
About an hour later I met STAY OUT LATE’s artist manager; Eric Fernandes. Along with Tremayne, the two were welcoming as we chopped it up about sports, the city, and the music scene.
Upon entering the establishment, I got marked as media, and spoke more with Eric about the collective.
“It’s about doing whatever it takes to get the job done,” he explains, as he stands in front of a table supporting STAY OUT LATE’s merchandise. “Staying up late, putting the work in, and getting up early to make that happen.”
He hands me his business card before we part ways, as he preps for the artists to take the stage.
Pleasantries exchanged, hands formed daps, and bodies embraced all across the bar, as talent and friends begin to flood the floor. This was one of the first events I’ve attended in which the venue was close to capacity by 10 pm. The support for these artists could be it’s own cult.
As stage time approached, Tre takes up his host duties to announce “It’s about to be a lituation!” And sets the night ablaze.
The first artist to take the stage is Hazel: A tall slim built rapper rocking a Rick & Morty shirt as his performance attire. Before starting his set he challenges the crowd to ponder:
“If you’re in the back, I need you to think why you’re in the back…”
His first song reveals his artistic versatility. He bends his voice and switches flows seamlessly, all while vaulting around on stage.
Hazel followed that up with another banger that got one of his fans so hype that he joined him on stage.
To close out, he saved his biggest track for last: New Wave. It features his guy Kelson, who elevates the energy on stage the moment he hits the mic. I’m left aghast at the fact it’s only the opener.
The event switches south of the border as an artist from NYC by the name off Ju$$ B takes the stage next. It’s about 10:20 now and he opens up with a soulful song “for the ladies.”
After warming his vocals up he announces, “It’s time to get in my bag.” Following the announcement, he plays a song titled I Gotta Get It. Its message is one that focuses on trying to make it and is accompanied by a wavy synth beat. It resonates with every artist in the building including myself.
Like Hazel before him, Ju$$ B closes out with his self proclaimed favourite: Back In My Bag. A banger that moves the crowd set before him. Its hook is very catchy and his raspy vocals match the dark tone of the track.
He spits a cool No Freezer Remix and thanks the crowd before exiting left.
Back to the frozen soil as Toronto artist Boland takes the stage. Boland doesn’t try to be flashy in a world that says you should be, he takes a minimalist approach, but that works in his favour because his bars speaks volumes about his talent.
In terms of technical rapping ability, Boland was one of the top talents of the night. Warning Shots, his 12th song off his 13-song No Days Off series, was his opening performance and it proved why he can stake his claim in this game.
Its appropriately titled, and consists of pure unadulterated rap on a raw 80’s crime scene investigation type beat.
His set was full of bars and if I remember correctly, featured a freestyle in between that could very well be it’s own song. Before exiting the stage his last song emphasizes his minimalist approach as he raps the words:
“I don’t give a f— about Gucci.”
After all that action, a slight intermission ensues as we await the next artist. The DJ’s set pumps out hits to the tune of What Would Meek Do?, TATI, and Yes Indeed. Each one increasing the hype of the crowd.
After about 15 minutes the next artist takes stage. In terms of appearance he’s the antithesis to Boland. He sports all black attire; a black mask, black jacket, black boots and a military style bag strapped to his leg.
His name is Devvy Dior…
For his military style outlook, his music is a blend of R&B, pop, emo rap, and other elements of hip hop. It’s a nice mix and he took command of the stage from the moment he got on.
After asking for the crowd to put up their lights, his hype man went so far as to yell “If you don’t got your lights up you’re a broke boy!”
His opening song fell in the realm of emo-rap, which was followed by a banger that I believe was either titled, or had the words Hush Your Mouth. Later he showed off his pop range with Versatile To Me.
His entire set was performed with a level of polish and high energy.
As a whole, Devvy Dior is nothing I’ve ever seen in the industry. He’s a compilation of different aspects that form one cohesive artist that’s on pace to be big.
The first and only female act came in the form of Kiana, a soulful singer with strong vocals. Before blessing the stage however, her friend took it upon herself to put the crowd on notice.
“This is the best music you’ve ever heard,” she said.
What followed was a passionate performance of three songs. One of which was a captivating tune titled Energy. Kiana’s performance kept the crowd enchanted and I hope to hear more from her musically.
Terrell Morris was another stand out artist, not only for the fact that he copped a wine bottle on stage, but his laid back rap/sing sound has a familiarity that resonates with any hip hop head.
Morris also had one of the most memorable songs of the night with his performance of Pretty Life off his album Molasses. The lyrics “Put your passion on me every night” are poised for commercial success.
Following Terrell Morris’ performance was the headliner: STAY OUT LATE’s flagship artist Scotty IV.
The air shifted with his dark toned, tint of grunge, melodic rap. The collective titled song, Stay Out Late, was performed along with several other bangers including Way Off World that rocked the stage.
Scotty’s performance felt like an interactive party and included an appearance from the host Tremayne, who performed a song with him. The collective got wavy and the vibe was strong.
To close out an already iconic night was ACV Worldwide, a group of artists that rolled 15-deep on stage which included my old school friend Kill Vill who performed hard hitting rock/rap tracks. He also pushed the limits of his performance by pulling down his pants. I couldn’t think of a more memorable closing to a show than that.
Full Circle was full of talented Toronto artist with their own unique sounds that can create lasting careers if they continue to show the world their heart felt music. It’s suitable that, like PopsCulture, STAY OUT LATE is providing a platform for artists to showcase their talent. Salute.