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Concert Reviews Music

Montreal spills their excitement for Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS tour. 

Fans left an outstanding impression on the singer during her first ever shows in Montreal.

When Olivia Rodrigo released her debut single “drivers license” in 2021, it skyrocketed to number one on the charts and became a heartbreak anthem for an entire generation. Her debut album SOUR doubled down on that success, receiving a small-scale tour that same year. With her sophomore album GUTS out, she recently embarked on a worldwide arena tour, notably stopping in Montreal for the first time. She packed out the Bell Centre, playing two sold-out nights on March 26 and 27.

Fans of Rodrigo were treated to quite literally every song they could possibly love: every song, with the exception of two, in her solo discography was featured on her setlist. As a result, the night was a well-rounded and balanced mix of pop-punk anthems, heartfelt ballads and everything in between. Rodrigo did not miss a beat, and the crowd was right on par with her.

The show began with “bad idea right?” and “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” kicking things into high gear right from the jump. She then moved into some slower tempo songs like “Vampire” and SOUR cuts “drivers license” and “traitor.” These tracks put her fans’ dedication on full display, for every song was sung perfectly and each lyric was crystal-clear, even with twenty thousand voices singing in unison. The melodic runs on tracks like “favorite crime” proved that the crowd was capable of hitting all sorts of notes, with the starlet even giving them props for having the chops to keep up with her.

Her performance of “teenage dream” was a standout from the entire night. Rodrigo began with a monologue while playing the piano, in which she expressed her gratitude growing up and getting older, and being excited to see the girl she will become. A montage of home videos from her childhood played in the background, adding a degree of wholesomeness. The cherry on top was the end of the performance, where a clip of her childhood self speaking with her mother played. Rodrigo’s mom was asking her daughter about her upcoming first performance, to which the crowd responded eagerly with all sorts of cheers—a poignant, emotional moment perfectly executed by breaking the fourth wall.

Halfway through the show, Rodrigo embarked on a moon prop which would make its way around the arena. She waved to fans as they cheered raucously below her, performing her ballads “logical” and “enough for you” as she floated above them. 

Rodrigo maintained a solid stage presence throughout the entire night. Her stage featured a central platform which extended down the left and right side with two catwalks, by which she took advantage to visit each side of the stage periodically. She jumped around and rocked out to her more energetic songs, whereas she laid down and sat down to perform introspective, piano and guitar-driven tracks like “making the bed” and “happier.” 

She took time to hype up the crowd, acknowledge her fans, and even share anecdotes about the different songs, truly creating a connection with the crowd members. Her dancers were another key addition to the show: they were perfectly in sync and made their way across all parts of the stage, further utilizing the setup and adding to the overall stage presence.

Heading into the last leg, Rodrigo had fans belting out to more rock-leaning cuts like “all-american bitch” and the newly released “obsessed.” Once the song was over and she was offstage, the crowd gave a standing ovation in total obscurity—roaring for nearly a minute and a half straight. The pop star returned with “good 4 u” and closed out the show with “get him back!,” saluting fans in the crowd and those along the barricade as confetti poured down from above.

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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Beyoncé — COWBOY CARTER

Beyoncé’s triumphs on her eighth album, an all-encompassing ode to country and American music.

Beyoncé prefaced the release of her new album with a statement explaining that the album was born partly from the backlash she received from her appearance at the 2016 Country Music Awards: “I did not feel welcomed…and it was very clear that I wasn’t.” COWBOY CARTER, her eighth studio album, is all about Beyoncé staking her claim within the country music realm. The record is an exciting ride through classic American music styles, with researched production and homages to the great artists of the genre.

Although country music defined the lead singles of the album, COWBOY CARTER is rather an all-encompassing tribute to historically popular styles of American music. Beyoncé notably pays tribute to several iconic artists in American music history, primarily from the country genre she is borrowing from. Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Linda Martell all appear in spoken or sung bits that serve as skits between songs. “BLACKBIIRD” and “JOLENE” are covers of classic tracks by The Beatles and Dolly Parton, respectively.

The record has a predominantly country, singer-songwriter and acoustic direction that also dabbles in folk, rock, hip-hop and dance music. “AMERIICAN REQUIEM” has a gospel feel and traces of sitar, while “16 CARRIAGES” is filled with hits of rock guitars. “SPAGHETTI” is a hard-hitting hip-hop banger, as is “TYRANT.” Different types of acoustic and country styles are also explored: the album’s midsection consists of slower-paced, acoustic ballads that focus on emotion,introspection and highlighting the singing.

Beyoncé is vocally intact, delivering several stunning performances. She reaches beautiful highs on the introductory track and soars into Italian opera on the backend of “DAUGHTER,” delivering stunning results. She is joined by Miley Cyrus on “II MOST WANTED,” a duet where the voices are perfectly complementary as they harmonize over acoustic guitars. The intro track is one of many examples where Beyoncé utilizes her full vocal range, tapping into deeper vocals as well.

Beyoncé’s songwriting is one of the album’s strong suits. “16 CARRIAGES” is a story of sacrifice about Beyoncé following her family at a young age to embark upon a musical career. “PROTECTOR” is all about motherhood—providing for your children yet knowing they will be on their own one day. Her rendition of “JOLENE” even puts a fresh spin on the original, opting for a more assertive and defensive track—Jolene is warned to stay aback. 

Throughout the tracklist, there are all sorts of captivating lyrics about Beyoncé embracing Black culture, family, love, sexuality and overcoming adversity and infidelity (“JUST FOR FUN,” “DAUGHTER”).

“YA YA” is a standout, both vocally and instrumentally, combining uptempo guitar licks with horns, drums and roaring vocals. The track is grand and exciting and evokes Tina Turner. “BODYGUARD” is another key track, a laid-back, poppier cut backed by warm acoustic guitars and addictive “oohs.” 

The album’s final leg kicks into a series of dance cuts, calling back to Beyoncé’s previous album. “RIIVERDANCE” combines country instrumentation with a consistent kick bounce. It transitions directly into “II HANDS II HEAVEN,” a song that is equally pulsating but starry and mellow. “TYRANT” is an upbeat hip-hop banger backed by a killer violin melody, and “SWEET ★ HONEY ★ BUCKIIN’” is another bouncy bop reminiscent of RENAISSANCE track “THIQUE.”

There are several shorter interludes in between tracks that make for nice moments, though their brevity renders them less necessary. Contrarily, the “SMOKE HOUR” radio show-themed skits and vocal interludes add to the Western aesthetic of the album and aid its flow. 

All in all, COWBOY CARTER is Beyoncé’s latest passion project and a testament to the effort she puts into her work. From her performances to the production, the record speaks to her will to dive into a new style and research it down to every last detail.

8/10

Trial Track: YA YA

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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Future & Metro Boomin — WE DON’T TRUST YOU

The trap titans reunite for a joint album that highlights their best strengths.

Future and Metro Boomin are synonymous by this point. The rapper is the voice behind Boomin’s iconic producer tag “If Young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you,” and the pair have been working together for over a decade. From DS2 to the Drake-assisted What a Time to Be Alive mixtape, and viral hits like “Superhero” and “Mask Off,” the pair have cemented themselves as a dynamic hitmaking duo in hip-hop. WE DON’T TRUST YOU doubles down on their usual chemistry, delivering a 16-track offering of sinister, icy trap bangers.

Boomin’s signature production style is fully on display right off the bat. The horns on the title track are understated yet triumphant, the bells are ominous, and the producer’s knack for creating atmosphere truly shines. This is equally the case on other tracks: “Claustrophobic” and “Ain’t No Love” notably shine due to their inclusion of strings, creating an orchestral feel. Boomin’s signature bells appear all over the album (”Ice Attack,” “Cinderella” and “Magic Don Juan”), setting the nocturnal backdrop that defines his production style. 

The St. Louis native’s beat palette on the album highlights the signature sound he’s carved for himself, one that is versatile. Some of the catchiest beats on the album have a retro feel, whether it’s the late ‘80s hip-hop samples on “Like That” or the open hats on “Fried (She a Vibe)” that call back to classic 2000s trap music. Boomin further elevates his production through collaboration: producer Mike Dean’s synth passages on “Young Metro” close out the track on a cinematic note. Producer Zaytoven’s contributions to “Ain’t No Love” include his signature flutes and varied percussive sounds, all of which make the instrumental even more animated.

Future is fully locked in throughout the project, meeting Metro Boomin right in the middle to create addictive hits. His flow is sticky, his hooks are catchy and the majority of tracks aim for the sweet-spot runtime of three minutes, never overstaying their welcome. His lyrical focus mostly relies on braggadocio, but there are moments of clarity. He takes aim at a friend turned foe on the intro track, and “Runnin Outta Time” is about feeling paranoia and distrust in those around you. No matter the beat, he sounds laser-focused and fits the production like a glove.

Several artists also lend their talents to the project. The Weeknd appears on “Young Metro,” laying a soft and understated hook that perfectly works as entrancing background vocals. Travis Scott’s feature on “Cinderella” perfectly suits the track’s psychedelic, woozy atmosphere and his auto-crooning effectively serves as a segue on “Type Shit.” The latter also features Playboi Carti, who comes through delivering a full-length verse in his recent, signature deep voice cadence. Kendrick Lamar is the true show stealer on the album, with a fiery verse on “Like That” taking aim at Drake and J. Cole. He disclaims the idea of the “Big 3,” claiming “it’s just big me” and reigniting hip-hop’s competitive flame. Rick Ross is another perfect fit, dropping opulent raps over an elegant soul sample-based beat on “Everyday Hustle.”

In addition to Boomin’s cohesive sound, the project is driven by a series of quotes from late Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy. His voice bookends various tracks with quotes that are cocky yet assertive: they are metaphors for the rapper-producer duo’s excellence, a reaffirmation of where they stand alongside their peers—above them, amongst the greatest to ever do it.

WE DON’T TRUST YOU is the latest reminder as to why Future and Metro Boomin are so often revered as a duo: where Future’s flow hits, the production hits just as hard. With another album set for April 12, this album proves that the pair can effortlessly impress once again.

7.5/10

Trial Track: “Like That (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”

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Music

The curious case of releasing “versions”

The music industry’s latest tactic capitalizes on hit potential—but at what cost?

In the late 2010s, TikTok truly established itself as a pivotal force in the music industry. It helped several songs grow rapidly in popularity, granting the platform its status as a hit factory. There was the runaway success of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” in 2019, which went on to become the longest running #1 in Billboard Hot 100 history, and tracks have since found their way onto the top 10 of the charts starting from TikTok.

The music industry found new ways to adapt, with the concept of “versions” resurfacing as a way of maximizing success on the platform. The practice consists of releasing several variations of the same song or album, with differences in pitch and speed, or even deconstructed versions.

The release of alternate versions is far from a new concept. It has long served as a “fans-first” method for artists and their audience to revisit and reimagine existing projects. Artist-producers like Metro Boomin and Tyler, The Creator have notably released the instrumentals to their albums to highlight their production. A cappella and instrumental versions of songs notably open the door to creative opportunities for musicians. 

Concordia communications student and producer Theo Andreville notes that these versions are longed for by DJs looking to remix songs, producers trying to remake beats and rappers looking to record remixes (which defined hip-hop mixtape culture in the 2010s). 

For local singer Marzmates, they are also a teaching moment in which she gets to notice the intricacies of a beat, the way the vocals are mixed, and the technicalities behind the singing.

Andreville also supports artists releasing a larger output of the same song as it results in a greater financial gain for them: “It makes sense—you’re already being paid pennies on the dollar.”

Sped-up and slowed-down songs are two of the most common styles, and their popularity predates TikTok entirely. Forbes reported that the app’s most popular songs in 2023 were sped-up remixes. Both Andreville and Marzmates agree that these edits can breathe a new and unique life into an existing track because they bring a totally different vibe.

With record labels throwing their hat into the ring, versions are now being mass-released in an attempt to chase hits and make more money off artists, jeopardizing creative control. British singer James Blake recently made headlines for an Instagram post on March 2 addressing the topic. He stressed the problematic nature of the focus shifting from the art towards viral moments. “We have to be great at social media but not really need to be great at music, the ‘working’ of songs now meaning posting infinite videos with the same clip of the same song,” the vocalist stated.

Certain labels and artists are pushing the concept to extremes. Ariana Grande recently reissued her hit single “yes, and?” with a whopping eight versions: the original, radio edit, extended mix, sped up, acapella, slowed, instrumental and extended instrumental versions. The technique is also being applied to entire albums: 21 Savage’s american dream was given a slowed, nightcore and sped up version within two days of the original’s release. 

Communications student Jade Dubreuil also takes TikTok’s fast-paced nature and consumer culture into account. “From a business standpoint, it’s extremely smart—but it creates fads. Artists who take that route take risks.” TikTok creates hits with ease, but shaking the “TikTok song” label is a much stickier situation.

Despite now flooding the market due to corporate greed, versions are widening the window of opportunity for creators and executives alike. “It’s more of a service to everybody, even if it’s redundant,” Andreville concludes.

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Music

R&B 200’s success story

Apt. 200’s R&B nights are drawing hundreds of people to the club—on a Wednesday.

There is an element of unpredictability that comes with getting people to go out on a Wednesday night. With its latest series of R&B nights titled “R&B 200,” Apt. 200 Montreal has accomplished exactly that, offering a unique setting that draws hundreds to the club in the middle of the week. 

Lou Celestino, a local artist and bartender at the club, first came up with the idea as a solution to existing problems: “Wednesdays were very inconsistent, without branding. People were simply trying to mosh and we’d get noise complaints.” He noted the overall lack of a strict R&B focus in other clubs on St. Laurent Boulevard, which made way for R&B 200’s differentiation. Starting from simply hosting and bartending, he now manages the event.

The format has essentially turned Apt. 200’s usual hip-hop banger formula on its head. It opts instead for a relaxed, lounge-like environment that focuses on mellow, emotional cuts and classic 2000’s R&B. With a DJ roster composed of Miggy, Nino, Arsy, and Spinelli, clubbers are treated to a seamless mix of modern R&B, vintage classics, and incorporations of adjacent styles like late ‘90s-2000s pop and hip-hop.

The event is powered by Diff Minds, a local content-creation trio. Diff Minds includes two Concordia alumni, Kyle “Dolla” Martel and Karim “Dream” Fall. Celestino called upon them personally, given his genuine friendship with Dream and positive experiences with having the duo host at Apt. 200. Through their video recaps, Diff Minds showcase a different side to clubbing, one that is atypical to the scene’s usual portrayal. Their visual style is simultaneously professional, stunning, and intimate, between Dolla’s warm, vivid photography and Dream’s crystal-clear videography. The inclusion of retro technology (polaroids and camcorder) gives their clips a homey feel, one that perfectly suits R&B 200’s throwback essence.

Above all, the intent behind R&B 200 is to bring people together, be it the team or the crowd. “We want to bring a vibe to the club that allows people to have fun, enjoy themselves, and be safe while doing it. We encourage creatives, entrepreneurs, artists, and more to come together and network while vibing to some good, nostalgic music,” Dolla explained.  

“It allows people to have a conversation. Most importantly, the vibes are immaculate; barely any fights or trouble, that’s what separates us from other places,” Celestino added.

This is exactly what you get from a Wednesday at Apt. 200: the bar fully lined up with people talking, a crowded dance floor before midnight, dance circles, attendees singing along to ballads in unison while waving their flashlights; be it a social gathering or a collective celebration of music, the heartwarming feeling of community truly fills the room and defines each Wednesday night. DJ Spinelli notes that it has become a sanctum for creative expression. “We’ve transformed R&B Wednesdays into a space where everybody can express themselves fully, through outlets like fashion & dance. Everyone is there to support each other and have a ball! It gives you the confidence to fully lean into your passion,” she explains.

Celestino prides himself on gathering a team built upon diversity. “When you look at the lineup of hosts and DJs it’s multicultural; I am absolutely proud of representation,” he said. “One thing that motivates me is opening doors for the next wave of talent. With every name on the flyer, I see the qualities that are important for hospitality and that make people feel welcomed. I’m proud that I got a group of hosts to become friends.”

R&B 200 continues to see increasing popularity and a steady turnout, both of which are impressive given the unlikely circumstances. Fall is glad to bear witness to this success and remains surprised by it. “I’m a very observant guy. I catch myself looking around the club and being like, ‘Wow, why are so many people showing up on a Wednesday?’ It’s a hard sell. Overall, I see the same familiar faces coming through and making the appointment to come every Wednesday.”

The success of R&B 200 is now driven by the name it has made for itself. “People know that Wednesdays are for R&B nights at Apartment,” Dolla said. “It’s something you have to see for yourself.”

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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: ScHoolboy Q—BLUE LIPS

The LA rapper’s latest album is versatile, vulnerable, and strikingly down-to-earth.

BLUE LIPS finds ScHoolboy Q in his most clear and focused state thus far in his career. It is the American rapper’s most personal record, and finds him exploring topics like past drug use, newfound sobriety, family life, fatherhood, and his mental well-being. He is perfectly self-aware of who he is and who he used to be: he truly comes across as down-to-earth through his songwriting. 

“Blueslides” is an especially vulnerable song where Q gets candid about his mental health. He sings, “But lately, I ain’t really been myself, ain’t strong as I seemed” and “I done made problems my problems, now I barely can breathe.” 

“Cooties” is another introspective highlight. In this song, Q shares his gratitude for his daughters and their stable, healthy life, while also expressing his worries about their safety. Lines like “Why God blessed me? I never deserved it,” are perfect examples of the poignant, personal lyricism on this record. 

“Germany 86” is an ode to his mother and formative years, a track in which he juxtaposes his present-day level-headedness with the everyday struggles and pain of his upbringing. The rapper celebrates the current version of himself throughout the album, but he is inherently tied to the man he once was.

Q approaches BLUE LIPS as charismatically as always. His delivery is filled with conviction and intonation, as he shouts his ad-libs and navigates through tracks with rapid, razor-sharp flows.

The production on the album is volatile and versatile, continuously cranking the dial between understated jazzy cuts, rattling brash tracks, and hybrids of both. Elegant jazz samples set the backdrop for tracks like “Blueslides” and “Lost Times.” 

Contrarily, “Pop” features rattling grunginess and rock guitars, sonic characteristics reminiscent of Q’s 2016 album Blank Face LP. Trap production takes center stage on several occasions to maintain the high energy: “Yeern 101” is an adrenaline-filled cut where Q relentlessly raps over heavy 808’s and a multitude of fast-paced claps and percussive sounds. 

There are all sorts of beat switches throughout the record, creating an exciting and unpredictable listening experience. The majority of tracks begin and end entirely differently, constantly keeping the listener on their toes. Some of the beats are more ambitious and experimental: “Foux” features percussions clattering in every direction; “Love Birds” and “Time killers” are based upon rhythmic, off-kilter grooves, yet Q finds his way over them perfectly with unique flows.

The featured artists are fitting additions to the album experience. Rapper and singer Rico Nasty perfectly matches ScHoolboy Q’s energy with her brash and brazen performance on “Pop,” aggressively screaming the track’s title. Producer and rapper Devin Malik’s double appearances are perfectly complementary to Q, given how similar his vocal delivery is. Rapper Ab-Soul’s appearance is another standout, thanks to his alarmed delivery which matches the eerie, hypnotic vocal sample looming beneath him.

Overall, BLUE LIPS is a culmination of the best traits of ScHoolboy Q’s music—it’san LP that is unpredictable and impressive all-around. Q is as expressive as ever and showcases a new level of humility and self-awareness. He truly comes across as grounded, which heightens the significance of the personal growth he conveys throughout the record.

Score: 8/10

Trial Track: Blueslides

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Music

Honourable Music Mentions from Early 2024

The Music Editors of The Concordian share their favourite releases of the year so far.

Tabéa’s Picks:

Little Simz – Drop 7

British MC Little Simz is back with a seven-track EP where she encapsulates catchy and invigorating beats and melodies. Drop 7’s electrifying sounds seamlessly blend from song to song to give all listeners a memorable experience. The artist even incorporates Portuguese in the second track “Fever” which propels its energy to a whole other level of passion and power. If you are seeking to discover a project full of a high level of energy and fun, definitely add Drop 7 to your music library!

Trial Track: “Fever”

Brittany Howard – What Now

Singer, guitarist, and songwriter Brittany Howard from the American band Alabama Shakes dropped her second solo album in early February. What Now is a collection of 12 tracks with a runtime of just under 40 minutes that mixes R&B, alternative and rock elements to create an alluring and warm project. Its second track titled “I Don’t” is such a lovely song that any music lover would immediately connect with it. Its timeless but also beautifully calculated melodies and production incorporate touches of neo-soul that create an aura of peace and mellowness.   

Trial Track: “I Don’t”

Papooz – RESONATE

Back in January, French band Papooz released their fourth album RESONATE composed of 11 tracks. Based in Paris, members Ulysse Cottin and Armand Penicaut continue their classic indie-pop sound and catchy tunes with a cohesive album that evokes a sunny and bubbly day. The witty harmonies and songs feature groovy bass and synths along with bright guitar chords. I notably love the vocals on the third track “IT HURTS ME” which merges into the warm-sounding production, especially moments right before the chorus where they are beautifully layered and the melody smoothly transitions into the snappy chorus. 

Trial Track: “IT HURTS ME”

Stefano’s Picks:

Nicholas Craven & Boldy James – Penalty of Leadership

Nicholas Craven returns with Boldy James for Penalty of Leadership, their second joint mixtape. The Québécois producer provides Boldy James with a new assortment of soul sample-based instrumentals, this time with a heavier tone. The mixtape marks James’ first release following a near-fatal car crash, and its lyrical content revolves around life and experiences. It chronicles the cold realities of gang life in Detroit, all over an orchestral backdrop. James is a vivid yet blunt descriptor, which leaves his compelling lyricism style unparalleled.

Trial Track: “Formal Invite”

Yeat – 2093

Yeat’s latest record 2093 is a full-fledged dive into worldbuilding. He blends his unique brand of hip-hop with electronic influences to craft a dark, dystopian, industrial soundscape with a Cyberpunk feel. The production is layered, cinematic, and versatile. There are explosive, moshpit-ready ragers (“ILUV”), danceable electronic cuts (“Breathe,” “Team ceo”), and everything in between. 2093 is Yeat’s latest creative leap, pushing boundaries that have yet to be explored by most mainstream hip-hop. 

Trial Track: “Team ceo”

Bad Gyal – La Joia

Released at the end of January, Bad Gyal’s debut album La Joia is an upbeat project with loads of mainstream appeal and a variety of influences. The Catalan singer offers a handful of bright reggaeton bangers while incorporating different genres into the tracklist. Afrobeats, dancehall, house, and dance music are all present, with some of them being intertwined with reggaeton. Her distinctly bold voice is unique and, when combined with autotune, results in a unique tone that sets her apart from her contemporaries. At just 40 minutes in runtime, La Joia is a fun and easy listen that you should have in your rotation, especially when summertime rolls around.

Trial Track: “Perdió Este Culo”

Categories
Concert Reviews Music

Lil Tecca shines at MTELUS

The New York rapper thrilled his Montreal audience, with help from SoFaygo and Tana.

New York rapper Lil Tecca made his return to Montreal on Feb. 27 as part of his HVN on Earth tour. The show marks his first in Montreal in two years and fourth in Quebec overall, following a tour stop in Montreal, and performances at Metro Metro and Festival d’été de Québec in 2022. 

His latest concert brought along Cactus Jack Records signee SoFaygo, as well as Tana, Tecca’s protégé who also accompanied him throughout 2022. Chow Lee, the remaining opener, was unable to perform due to issues at the Canadian border.

At only 17 years old, Tana entertains fans with his high energy. His synth-driven “rage music” brand of hip-hop is already embedded with adrenaline, and his performances are equally thrilling. The young rapper brought variances in energy, crooning melodically and chanting along to the ad-libs in his songs aggressively. He was constantly running and jumping across the stage, keeping the crowd engaged throughout his set. The audience resonated heavily with his biggest tracks, most notably his rattling breakout hit “Antisocial.” Tana’s set impressed and was a perfect tone-setter for the remainder of the show. 

SoFaygo followed suit with a similar musical style to Tana—distorted bass, stuttery hi-hats, spacey synth sounds—checking all the boxes of hip-hop’s rage subgenre. His set kept the crowd active, although not much was different from the one before his. His biggest hits did provoke a strong response from the audience: SoFaygo’s performance of “Hell Yeah” saw him at his most animated, and the crowd belted out every word to his breakout hit “Knock Knock,” which went viral on TikTok in 2021 (and was produced by Tecca).

Three hours had passed since the opening of the doors, yet the anticipation was at its peak. Cheers rang out from the very moment the “We Love You Tecca” sound bite was played, and he popped out moments later to his track “Yves.” The volume was louder during Tecca’s set, yet he sounded crystal clear. His vocal delivery was melodic and perfectly audible, with him sounding more animated than on record. 

The majority of his performance was done without a backing track (only the beat), making his vocal performance skills even more commendable. His set kicked off with the introductory six-track run on his latest album TEC, which brought the crowd to a peak with his latest smash hit “500lbs.” 

Tecca’s fans have a dedicated relationship with the artist, which was exemplified by the deep cuts he played. Fans were equally invested and excited to hear fan favourite tracks from albums like We Love You Tecca 2. Despite only being around for half a decade, the MC has classics within his fanbase thanks to his first mixtape. “Love Me,” “Did It Again,” and “Ransom” were met with bar-for-bar chants from the crowd and vibrant mosh pits. 

Tecca’s team showcased a great “fans-first” approach throughout the evening. Tana and their tour manager both took appropriate stops to ensure the crowd was being hydrated, and Tecca’s label A&R and camera crew were seen outside the venue interacting with fans and filming interviews before the show.

For any Tecca fan, a live show of his is definitely worth catching.

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Music

Essential Valentine’s Day tracks

Your Valentine’s Day playlist will be complete thanks to these picks from our Music Editors.

Tabéa’s Picks:

“Can’t Believe the Way We Flow” by James Blake

In my books, James Blake is an artist who can convey his thoughts and feelings in a raw and affectionate manner, especially when it comes to love in any form. “Can’t Believe the Way We Flow” is no exception and an ultimate devotion of Blake revealing to himself and the world how close he feels with his partner. The repetition of him singing that he can’t believe how they flow together only strengthens how well they fit together. This song also acts as a reminder that there is an opportunity to build a stronger connection with any person you love in your life, whether it be platonic or romantic.  

“Kiss of Life” by Sade

Most Sade songs could have been included, but “Kiss of Life” is extra special to me because it’s one of the first songs of hers that I heard. The entire track just screams being head over heels in love with someone, but also with life in general. As Sade softly sings: “The sky is full of love.” However, the energy of the song resides in this line, which takes the cake for me: “I swear the whole world could feel my heartbeat when I lay eyes on you.” She pours her heart out and it’s hard to not feel that loving, contagious feeling. 

“Prototype” by Outkast

This song is one of Outkast’s best in my opinion, especially when the bass comes in and Andre 3000 sings: “I think I’m in love again.” That part is what makes this song so hypnotizing and warm. Despite the song depicting someone who may or may not be the one, it’s all about being fully vulnerable that you’re feeling some type of way towards someone else, but especially the awareness of falling in love again after a while. I especially love the line: “I wanna say stank you very much for picking me up and bringing me back to this world.” To me, it’s such a lovely way to say how meeting someone can make you feel like you’re stepping back into the world through a new connection.

Stefano’s Picks:

“World We Created” by Giveon

Giveon’s “World We Created” is a smooth ballad about basking in the bliss of simply being alongside your partner. Backed by a soft guitar and some ambient nature sounds, the track truly creates a mellow setting that feels like a romantic night under an open sky. The song is complete with a horn section, which truly makes it the serenade it is. Giveon sounds absolutely smitten by even the simplest things (like watching his lover as they lay in bed), and his unique, deep vocal register comes with its own romantic charm. It’s the song Giveon dedicated to couples on his recent tour, and one that you should dedicate to your loved one on Feb. 14.

“BESO” by ROSALÍA & Rauw Alejandro

“BESO” (the Spanish word for “kiss”) finds then-couple ROSALÍA and Rauw Alejandro absolutely infatuated with one another on a record. The song is bright and melodic and their singing voices are beautifully complementary. The track is ridden with compliments and the sentiment of romance is undeniable with lyrics like: “Lo mejor que tengo es el amor que me das” [the best thing I’ve got is the love that you give me]. It’s a lighthearted, heartwarming duet with a nice reggaeton bounce featuring two of the brightest voices in Latin music.

“PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA” by Beyoncé

“PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA” never fails to amaze me with its driving groove and Beyoncé’s angelic voice. Its jazzy instrumental is laid back and soothing, which perfectly sets the intimate tone one would want on Valentine’s Day. The song is an ode to her husband JAY-Z where she expresses her adoration for all the little things he does that she loves. Beyoncé’s singing is especially soft as she flies in and out of high notes using her soprano voice. The emotion she brings to her vocal performances further emphasizes the song’s sentiment of love. “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA” is vividly heartfelt and a perfect tone-setter for Valentine’s Day.

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Music

Planet Porq shakes up Nouvel Établissement

Global sounds took center stage as Montreal DJs put on an eclectic mix.

On Saturday, Feb. 3, Porqueria continued its week of global sounds with an event at Nouvel Établissement, a bar and venue in the Mile-End neighbourhood. Founder Samia Liamani curated and played alongside a list of local DJs composed of Jashim, Gurafiku, Teo2k, Chloe Lallouz, A$h Banks and Manalou. Together, they brought an unparalleled creativity to their sets and a vast soundscape rooted in several cultures.

The musical selection carried on brilliantly for five hours with a succession of bangers. Jashim kicked things off with some techno before leaving the turntables to Gurafiku. Taking over, Gurafiku began playing some sped-up amapiano which added a unique momentum to the genre. She also embedded her heritage into her set by incorporating Caribbean music styles like Konpa and Rasin (Haitian roots music), while proudly waving around a Haitian flag.

Teo2k remained in dance music territory, blending deep house, afro house, and making a signature inclusion of Brazilian baile funk music. He also self-awaringly joked about having an array of remixes of Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” playing at least four different ones. Chloe Lallouz followed suit with one of the most versatile showcases of the night. She brought in some Latin influence with Latin vocal samples, dembow and reggaeton, in addition to some entrancing techno tunes. Liamani’s set was a culmination of all the previous sounds, seamlessly interchanging between reggaeton, Afrobeats, and baile funk. She also took to the mic to salute the crowd and fuel them even more. 

A$h Banks hopped on the one’s and two’s to treat the crowd to a deep house set, one of her fortes. She brought a heavy bounce to the table and some addictive beats which prompted a strong response from the crowd. She even ran back a remix of Booba’s “DKR” four times, given the crowd’s increasingly eager cheers in response to it. Manalou closed things out on an equally high note as the attendees clapped along to her tracks and chanted her name in unison. She notably paid homage to her background by incorporating Arabic music, vocal tracks, and remixes, dancing along to them from behind the DJ booth.

Despite being a smaller venue, Nouvel Établissement was packed to the brim with energy. From the crowd members chanting along, to the unanimous dancing happening across the room, the hype was off the wall—some crowd members even danced while hanging off the venue’s decorative cages. Liamani took notice of these displays during her set and praised them for bringing the raw, dirty energy that Porqueria is all about. The guests were also perfectly dressed to the “future rodeo” theme, with cowboy hats, jean jackets, and silver to be seen all throughout the room.

Porqueria brought out an undeniable level of creativity from its DJs and beautifully showcased an array of cultures and musical genres from all over the planet. Montreal is constantly booming with its multicultural music scene, which Liamani’s exceptional curation captured flawlessly.

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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPIN: Lyrical Lemonade—ALL IS YELLOW

Video director Cole Bennett rounds up his famous friends for the debut Lyrical Lemonade album.

Cole Bennett made a name for himself and his media company Lyrical Lemonade in the late 2010s by directing rap music videos. With his unique editing style involving bright colours, and quirky effects, he rapidly established himself as a go-to director and boosted many rappers’ careers during the SoundCloud era (2016-2019). Fast forward to 2024, he has gathered many of these names into one curated, collective album, released under his own company’s banner.

All Is Yellow shines best due to its array of voices. Bennett taps several legends from his hometown of Chicago such as drill rappers Lil Durk, Chief Keef, and G Herbo, and late superstar Juice WRLD. Alongside on the roster are Lyrical Lemonade alumni, first-time collaborators, and underground hip-hop veterans. 

Some of the less likely match-ups make for surprisingly effective crossovers on the album. Melody and melancholy intersect effectively as Latto, Aminé, and Swae Lee join forces on “Special.” Detroit and Chicago link up on “Equilibrium,” as BabyTron and G Herbo sound perfectly collected and laser-focused over an airy trap beat.

For the most part, the record is a standard, trap-influenced hip-hop album. There are moments where simplicity strives; take “Guitar In My Room” for example, whose guitar melody lays the groundwork for a stellar, heartfelt Lil Durk performance. 

There’s also “This My Life”—a simple, piano-based track featuring Lil Tecca, The Kid LAROI, and Lil Skies. The trio delivers solid melodic performances that call back to the music they were making back when they first claimed fame with the help of Lyrical Lemonade. The track is a time capsule that perfectly captures the ethos of the prime Lyrical Lemonade era.

However, on cuts like “Say Ya Grace” and “Stop Giving Me Advice,” the lack of instrumental progression makes it easy for the beats to get stale quickly and drag on for up to four minutes at a time. 

Some of the more interesting production moments consist of other rap styles, as well as deviations from hip-hop altogether. Juice WRLD and Cordae team up on “Doomsday,” a freestyle recorded over a classic Eminem beat in 2019. The track is a clear highlight given their undeniable chemistry, charisma, and knack for wordplay.

The triad of Gus Dapperton, Lil Yachty, and Joey Bada$$ results in a warm, lush piece of groove-heavy indie pop on “Fallout,” complete with a tempo switch halfway through. This same mellow tone defines other tracks as well: It helps the sentiment of sincerity shine on “Hello There,” and lends “Hummingbird” a tranquil feel.

Many of the performances are up to par, though the instances of guests falling flat stick out more than those who give outstanding performances. Ski Mask the Slump God paints by the numbers on “Fly Away,” giving a predictable verse that sounds trapped in 2018 (his signature ad-libs also sound out of place, given their cartoonish nature over a cinematic instrumental). His performance pales even harder in comparison when JID swoops with his masterful display of flow and multisyllabic rhymes. 

Some of Eminem’s disses to Benzino on “Doomsday Pt. 2” come off as cringe, along with the unnecessary stray at the latter’s daughter, rapper Coi Leray. Cochise’s contribution to “First Night” strips him of his best qualities, forcing him into a rather standard performance over an instrumental that is better met by the rest of the track’s features.

Overall, All Is Yellow is a decent showcase of Lyrical Lemonade’s star-studded list of alumni. Although it does not reinvent the wheel, it gathers a large crop of artists and births unique results from otherwise unlikely pairings.

6.5/10

Trial track: “Guitar In My Room”

Categories
Music

Porqueria Party takes on Montreal

Ready to party? Planet Porq is invading this week.

Samia Liamani is a multifaceted creative (DJ, casting agent, art director, photographer, and more) based in Mexico who was raised in Montreal. She throws events under the banner “Porqueria Party,” hosting parties all over the world with curated DJ lineups. These events are all united by the overarching theme of “global sounds.” “From South African Amapiano to Brazilian funk to Reggaeton to Angolan Kuduro, French Caribbean Shatta, the common thread is the undeniably infectious way you will want to move your body to the beat,” Liamani explained in a press release.

Following Korea and Mexico, Canada is the latest country to be treated to its own Porqueria Party, with a curated calendar in February titled “Planet Porq.” Across seven days of events, Montreal’s local talent, cultural abundance, and variety of musical styles will be showcased in different venues through different DJs.

Kicking things off is French DJ-producer Lazy Flow, who is set to make his first Canadian appearance at Théâtre Fairmount on Feb. 2. His eclectic style is described in Porqueria’s press release as “celebrations and a mastery of rhythms inherited from the pioneers of House, the icons of Ballroom, the jerking of Baile Funk, UK Bass, Bouyon, Shatta and beyond.” Flow is headlining for DISCOÑO, a local queer Latinx dance party collective. Joining him on the lineup are local DJs mCherry, Jerico, and La Niña Kiwi.

Porqueria is set to take over Nouvel Établissement on Feb. 3, with a star-studded lineup of DJs who have played across Montreal’s most popular clubs (Apartment 200, Soubois, Francesco’s, etc.). The lineup consists of Samia, Chloe Lallouz, A$h Banks, Teo2k, Jashim, Gurafiku, and Manalou. A blend of Afrobeats, house music, Amapiano, hip-hop, Brazilian baile funk, Arabic music, and queer club music is to be expected, along with other genres. The night is also a dress-up party with a “future rodeo” theme—everyone is encouraged to revive their silver-studded outfits from Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour.

Gurafiku expressed gratitude for being invited back after playing for Porqueria in Korea. The “global sounds” theme allows her to diversify her sound in a personal way: “I can play things from my Caribbean background, so I’m happy and honoured.”

On Feb. 7, Samia will team up with Vancouver DJ-producer RICHTANNER® and fellow Mexican producer Bastian Bell to put an international spin on R&B200, the increasingly popular R&B-focused nights at Apartment 200. The trio will also be gathering the following night at Vino Disco for a showcase of Up Records (the collective to which RICHTANNER® and Bell belong) and their latest edit pack (remixes of existing songs).

Finally, Porqueria is teaming up with local Latin music collective Frikiton on Feb. 9. The collective is already set to play at IglooFest, with Samia and mCherry subsequently playing the official “après-ski” after party at Velvet, a speak-easy. Liamani teases “reggaeton, guaracha, cumbia, moombahton and more.” 

If you’re looking to party, Porqueria has you absolutely covered with its DJ calendar packed from end-to-end with talent and culture. Regardless of which DJ or music style you land on, you are guaranteed to end up dancing.

“Rather than highlight one specific kind of music, we are more focused on promoting a sense of community. Coming together can be a nice example that more can be achieved through collaboration in creative spaces,” said Liamani.

See the full calendar of Planet Porq in Montreal below.

Feb. 2 – Discoño at Fairmount Theatre – Tickets

Feb. 3 – Porqueria at Nouvel Établissment – Tickets

Feb. 7 – R&B200 at Apt 200 (Guestlist)

Feb. 8 – Futureporq at Vino Disco – Free

Feb. 9 – Frikiton at Igloofest + Après-Ski at Velvet – Tickets

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