There are two things that come to mind when planning for Canadian Music Week (CMW): prioritization and time management.
While your average run-of-the-mill annual festival has a lifespan of two days, three max, CMW has packed over 1,000 artist performances and a comprehensive music conference into seven days (May 2 to May 8).
However ludicrous it may sound, catching some of the most anticipated acts gracing stages across Toronto is not impossible.
CMW is about to be shut down! UK rapper Skepta is unquestionably one of the most-anticipated performers at this year’s festival.
Firstly, having immediate access to an Uber account is a major key to success during your CMW experience and secondly, preparing a list of artists to check out, along with the venue and show time information, is crucial.
Luckily, the latter has already been laid out for you. Here’s a list of some must-see acts at this year’s CMW festival:
10 p.m. on Friday, May 6 at The Danforth Music Hall
CMW is about to be shut down! UK rapper Skepta is unquestionably one of the most-anticipated performers at this year’s festival. A tycoon of the grime scene, Skepta has previously topped charts across the pond for songs like “Hold On” in 2013 and “That’s Not Me” in 2014, but it was his single “Shutdown”, which dropped last year, that got him recognition in North America. He then went on to perform with Drake, who has continuously expressed nothing but love for the emcee, directly following the 2016 BRIT Awards. Skepta’s fourth studio album Konnichiwa is set to drop the same day as his performance at CMW in Toronto, so it’s kind of a big deal.
10 p.m. on Thursday, May 5 at Revival
Spitfire lyricist Crossword is not one to shy away from subject matter that provokes the mind. The Iranian Canadian rapper released his debut album XW last year on which he demonstrates his range as a masterful wordsmith and strays away from the typical “Toronto sound” that is slowly becoming its own category in modern hip-hop. Instead, Crossword finds his own voice through his experiences and shares it in his music with consistent energy and a trill flow.
Catching [Adria Kain] live should be an island breeze.
11 p.m. on Tuesday May 3 at Rivoli
12 a.m. on Friday May 6 at FUSE
Singer/songwriter Adria Kain first sparked major interest in her hometown Toronto following the release of her project Love, Kain in 2012, introducing her to the music scene and generating talk as to whose soulful voice was crooning on the musical love letter. Fast-forward three years later and Kain drops what she describes as her “safe haven”, Island In My Mind, followed by EP Reverse Psychology earlier this year. Her swag is all her own and she’s unapologetic when it comes to her craft – likely why she was picked up to do two shows at CMW this year. Catching the songstress live should be an island breeze.
11 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 at The Mod Club
Hailing from Brooklyn, and born in Detroit, rapper Amir Obe is taking a second stab at developing himself as an artist. Obe was originally signed to Atlantic Records in 2009 under the name Phreshy Duzit and made headway with tracks like “Good Mourning” and “Good Night”. He bounced back in 2014 with his 14-track project Detrooklyn and more recently Happening In The Grey Area, where his fresh sound and growth is more evident. The project borrows two features from PARTYNEXTDOOR on tracks “I’m Good” and “Truth For You”, which have both generated over a million plays on the rapper’s SoundCloud.
10 p.m. on Friday, May 6 at Comfort Zone
1 a.m. on Saturday, May 7 at Adelaide Hall
What do you get when you mix hardcore punk and rap with a dash of screamo? That would be music duo Ho99o9 (pronounced Horror) comprised of theOGM and Eaddy. The Newark, New Jersey natives first gained traction a few years back for having some of the wildest shows on the east coast – a direct reflection of their no boundaries approach to music. The group members brought their evocative thrashing and smashing rhythmic ragers to L.A. in 2014 and released their first mixtape Dead Bodies In The Lake at the end of last year, which followed two well-received EPs Mutant Freax and HORRORs OF 1999.
It’ll be exciting to witness [Leila Dey] live as she breaks back into music.
10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3 at Rivoli
After a three-year hiatus, Toronto songstress Leila Dey descended upon the music world once again last year with a sultry EP titled I’ve Arrived. The project is made up of four songs and three interludes, which seems short, but it is only a small preview as to what the R&B singer is ready to bring going forward. The project demonstrates definite growth from Dey as she plays with production and confronts rumours through melody. It’ll be exciting to witness her live as she breaks back into music.
10 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 at Adelaide Hall
If you weren’t sure, hip-hop is kind of a thing in Canadian cities other than Toronto and its suburbs. Montreal group The Posterz, made up of rappers, Kris the $pirit and Husser, as well as producer Joey Sherrett, has established a sound reminiscent of acts from Odd Future, but with that added northern flare that takes the trio’s music to a new level. Their most recent project, Junga, brings listeners to their wildly bizarre view of their neighbourhood, which they’ve dubbed the concrete jungle. The jungle experience is on its way to CMW and what’s in store isn’t certain, but will undoubtedly be totally awesome.
The jungle experience is on its way to CMW and what’s in store isn’t certain, but will undoubtedly be totally awesome.
8 p.m. on Friday, May 6 at The Mod Club
The last year gave way for two EPs from London, England singer NAO and as we hit the five-month mark of 2016, the eagerness from her fans for a debut album is almost palpable. NAO’s music is a melting pot of R&B, neo-soul and electronic rhythms that gracefully tie together the 28-year-old’s love for classic ’90s R&B love songs with a hip-hop influence. While songs like “Bad Blood” and “Inhale Exhale” have gained popularity in the blog world, NAO is more than just a hyped-up artist.
12 a.m. on Tuesday, May 3 at The Nest
The buzz about Canadian rapper JD Era began with a heavy focus on his battle rap skills in the early 2000s, before the emcee went on to write his own full-length songs in 2005. Era really started to make noise with his first mixtape Prince of the North, released in 2007, and almost 10 years later, has arguably become one of Canada’s most lyrically-gifted rappers out. He has won a Best Rap award from the Toronto Independent Music Awards to solidify the claim. Having performed on the same stages as artists like The Clipse, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Kardinal Offishall, and, most recently, Mobb Deep, Era should pretty much be on everyone’s “must see” list for this year’s Canadian Music Week.
Feature Photo Source: Janelle Scott-Johnson via Urbanology Magazine Archive