Photographs by Sarah Rix.
Rumours. An instagram picture with the number 6 posted on it. Yes, there were a few things going around that persuaded hip hop enthusiasts to cram their way into the tiny Hoxton right as soon as Drake’s OVO festival wrapped up. Skepta was one of Drake’s many guests that evening (including Kanye West, Pharrell, Future and more), so the UK grime musician, now 32, had a lot of excitement with performing in Toronto. There was a skepticism about who Skepta’s special guests may be, as this tag along phrase was attached to the event. The doors opened at 10 pm, and only 40 in-house tickets were left (selling at 50 bucks a stub). People were pouring onto the streets trying to get in. It felt like the secret event of the summer. Skepta posted that he wanted to shutdown Toronto, after all.
For nearly two hours a DJ spun music that drove the crowd and some on stage friends manic. Eventually, the Montréal rapper Louie P. walked out to spit “a few verses”. The crowd was responsive, but only in doses. Louie P. responded by insisting that we didn’t save all of our energy for Skepta. He started off quietly but became hungrier as each song passed. The crowd was finally going wild by the time he was done. With a short burst of another round of DJ spinning, Tre Mission came out with a spillage of hip hop lyricism. Words just flew out of his mouth as he pointed and faced his fans. He started out savagely and ended his short set on the same note. Overall, both Louie P. and Tre Mission were happy to be there, and they kept Skepta’s dream to shut down Toronto alive.
At around one in the morning, Skepta finally arrived. He donned an orange cap and a fierce grimace. After non stop music, he was determined to keep things going. At this point, the club transformed into an ankle breaking mosh pit that felt like it was going to cause the floor to break. Skepta was so eager to create a scene that he shouted and barked nearly every line. He had his dj rewind parts to relive them. This was his first Toronto show as a headliner, and he focused on making that count.
So, who were the special guests mentioned? Most likely Louie P. and Tre Mission. They could have also been us: The crowd. We were promised a legendary show by Skepta, and he tried to keep his promise. On a Monday night (or Tuesday morning), when most people were asleep to prepare for their next day of work, we were on the verge of breaking our bones with every near-collapse the pit endured. We were full of sweat and alcohol. If that isn’t grime, I don’t know what is. Skepta aimed to shutdown Toronto, but it was already chaos before he got to the titular song. If anything, it was chaotic before his show even began.