From the humble beginnings of the debut album Whut? Thee Album to the upcoming anticipated Muddy Waters 2: Even Muddier, Redman has maintained a loyal fan base after being in the game for more than 20 years. Hip-hop enthusiasts from all parts of the Greater Toronto Area gathered at the Rockpile East bar and nightclub, despite below seasonal temperatures, to see the rapper’s live performance. With air vents visible on the ceiling, the venue embodied the nostalgic feel of a ’90s basement party. Walking in, guests are welcomed to a bar with a large selection of drinks displayed. A combination of red and blue lights accessorized the stage and speakers placed on both sides produced enough bass to cause an earthquake.

Men overpowered the crowd, a majority them comfortably wearing hoodies and fitted baseball caps, occupying themselves with pitchers of beer. The ladies also came fully prepared, covering all aspects of the show including hosting, emceeing and being front row occupants.

Local artists warmed up the stage and the crowd for Redman. Rappers including Citizen Kane and Trissy Tristiena, proved to be crowd favourites by encouraging people to participate during their performance. Another crowd pleaser, battle rapper Charron, causally dressed with grey Nikes on, began his act with the freestyle rap in reaction to not being included in the BET cypher. The Ottawa native is known for being a Canadian freestyle champion and was featured on BET’s “106 & Park” Freestyle Fridays.

When Redman finally hit the stage, he took the time to speak about ’90s hip-hop and its ability to bring happiness to an individual. He went through some hip-hop classics, including hits from Tupac, Biggie Smalls and the Wu Tang Clan, to provoke audience participation. He performed “Blow Your Mind” and “Time 4 Sum” from his debut album released in 1992. Fans brought their phone to record “Ayo”, “4321” and “Whateva Man”.

Good marijuana and high energy are two prerequisites Redman requires from the crowd while performing. Since followers are only as good as their leader, Redman came equipped with both. In the middle of performing “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”, a tribute to deceased Wu Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a fan handed the rapper a blunt and the Redman gladly accepted. The crowd went wild.

His relatable nature is the reason why fans are still supporting and keeping up with Redman. His persona on stage is inviting and open, making him approachable to fans. At the end of the day, fans want to feel as though they matter to the rappers they support and judging from the turn out, Redman clearly is catering to this need. Fans will continue to wait for upcoming albums and maybe a sequel to the movie How High.

Words By. Moreblessing Munangwa + Photos By. Janelle Scott-Johnson