As the lights dimmed inside Tattoo, one of Toronto’s hottest venues right now, it was clear that it was a special night.

As part of the 2014 edition of Canadian Music Week, Noisey Canada and HustleGRL came together for an urban showcase highlighting arguably some of the best rappers in the country. The atmosphere was nothing short of electric, especially for a city that is often known for its lackluster audiences. From the beginning, DJ HustleGRL pumped up the crowd with some club hits and that vibe carried throughout the night. With a bill that featured (in order) A-Game, The Airplane Boys, Tre Mission and the Naturally Born Strangers, fans were in for a treat, even if they had to wait over two hours to get it.

As a borough, Toronto’s Scarborough community usually takes a lot of heat from others within the GTA, but on this night, it was shining bright. A-Game was the first to rock the stage at Tattoo and given the task of setting the tone for the night. Performing some more party-like songs such as “Cool Boyz” and “Money Made Me Do It”, the twin brothers certainly kicked things off the right way.

“[Tonight] the difference is a lot more people in this city are supporting hip-hop. It’s crazy to see that we got such a reaction and crowd, ’cause at the end of the day like four, five, or six years ago nobody was really coming to these shows,” explained Chase, one half of the duo.

“Now is the best time to do it, ’cause everyone in this city (Toronto) is getting looks. You can experiment, you can be brave with your sound ’cause the door is open.” – Beck Motley, The Airplane Boys

With a high-octane performance, The Airplane Boys picked up right where A-Game left off. From crowd surfing to mosh pits, the duo had the entire venue rocking out and vibing to some of its biggest hits. The east end duo debuted a new song entitled “Scarborough Kids” off the upcoming project Egos & Expectations. One thing about Toronto hip-hop shows is that they always feel like a family affair; this showcase was no different as the group brought all its homies on stage for one of the more memorable moments of the night.

Not every performer needed to jump around to captivate the crowd though; Tre Mission simply let his lyrics run the show. The young rapper’s set was pleasantly different from the rest and showed that straight rapping over a dope beat still gets love from the masses. The Naturally Born Strangers closed out the night with another highly energized and aggressive performance. Reminiscent of an early ’90s hip-hop crew, the three emcees simply took to the stage and rapped their heads off — at one point Rich Kidd ran through the crowd rapping. Sadly for them by the time they took to the stage it was 1 a.m., but a core group of people still remained to turn up with them.

It was a great night to celebrate local talent doing big things, and this is only the beginning.

As Beck Motley from The Airplane Boys put it, “Now is the best time to do it, ’cause everyone in this city (Toronto) is getting looks. You can experiment, you can be brave with your sound ’cause the door is open.”

Words By. Patrick Dennis Jr. + Photos By. Candace Nyaomi (Gallery 1) / Patrick Dennis Jr. (Gallery 2)