This year’s North By Northeast festival packed all of its usual punch. Despite the noticeably missing interactive conference component and the cancelled Action Bronson headlining show, there was still a ton to take in. From Willow Smith to Rae Sremmurd, Ty Dolla $ign to Shad, here is #TeamUrbanology’s very own highlight reel.

Willow Smith: Nothing but Love and Happiness

It was an odd sight from the outset – a cluster of children playing tag outside the Danforth Music Hall, the same venue that’s known for housing alcohol bars on its dance floor. But for a Willow Smith concert, one has to come expecting a pretty varied audience.

From the one or two old-aged ticket holders, the teens, pre-teens, middle aged and the, ‘I can’t sit still’ preschoolers, her unique brand of music has become known to appeal to a wide blanket of audiences as made evident during her recent NXNE performance in Toronto. They come for a taste of that charm, which derives from feel-good tunes conveying words like ‘happiness’ and ‘love’. They ultimately stay for her on-stage presence.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Long since removed from her new-blood days of “Whip My Hair”, Willow operated on the stage with an obvious blend of self-confidence and a consciousness of her own stylistic individuality – a trait she no doubt adopted as a privilege of being Will and Jada’s daughter.

Her first grace of the mic began with one of her singles titled “Flowers”. Throughout the performance, she donned a hefty Asian-inspired robe, a blue shaded scarf and a hairstyle that showcased an edgy, yet distinctive side to the young performer. While Willow has a knack for displaying emotion and interacting with her audience, her vocals still couldn’t project the same boisterous personality her on-stage presence demonstrated.

There was an evident difference between her studio sound and her voice on the mic, but it didn’t take away from the fact that she’s grown immensely comfortable with being on the stage. This allowed the audience to vibe along as if the lack of strength in her vocals wasn’t a problem.

Other songs such as “Rta” allowed Willow to show a full range of passion as she pranced and danced from one end of the stage to the other, often bending towards her crowd, which reaped plenty of reactions.

While it was an admittedly short-lived vibe, clocking in at around 20 minutes, Willow truly displayed an appreciation for the art of the “concert” by displaying her vulnerabilities on stage and giving it her all – a trait many future artists should always adopt and maintain.

Words & Video By. Noel Ransome + Photos By. Isa Ransome // © Urbanology Magazine

Raz Fresco & Bishop Nehru: New School Flavour, Old School Heart

Beneath Toronto’s Queen Street West, inside the Drake Underground, an eclectic mix of music fans united for some hip-hop for the soul from two crazy talented ’90s babies – Toronto’s Raz Fresco and New York’s Bishop Nehru. Whether it was Raz’s heavy flows and strong hometown pride on his latest single “Up North” or Nehru’s introspective rhymes on “User$”, both emcees had the crowd hanging off of every line.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos By. Adrian McKenzie // © Urbanology Magazine

Rae Sremmurd: A Turn Up Too Real

“Toronto y’all lit,” yelled one-half of the Mississippi-born brothers that make up Rae Sremmurd. And he wasn’t lying. Lit is definitely a perfect one-word synopsis of the NXNE show inside Danforth Music Hall that the duo headlined. Performing all of their recent bangers, from “No Type” to “No Flex Zone”, Khalif “Swae Lee” Brown and Aaquil “Slim Jimmy” Brown proved they know how to entertain. Turn down for what?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos By. Adrian McKenzie // © Urbanology Magazine

Yonge-Dundas Square: The Show Must Go On

Despite the controversy over the cancelling of Action Bronson as this year’s NXNE closing night headliner, the final day of the festival at the city’s Yonge-Dundas Square still delivered for the hundreds of fans who showed up. Not only did we capture the likes of Nue, Casey Veggies, Ty Dolla $ign and Shad while they took to the main stage, we also talked to dozens of fans to find out what they thought about this year’s line-up sans Bronson.

Video By. Noel Ransome + Hosted By. Jelicia Saulter & Sadé Powell 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Feature Header Photo & Gallery By. Janelle Scott-Johnson // © Urbanology Magazine

Comments are closed.