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Concert Reviews Music

Montreal rappers bring on the “Beats & Bars”

Mike Shabb, Jo Dolo, CHUNG, Jo Compadre and Mr. Severe showcased the city’s broad range of hip-hop sounds, styles, and talent at Ausgang Plaza.

The Astred collective is home to some of Montreal’s best up-and-coming artists. It notably includes Jo Dolo and Mr. Severe who both performed at the city’s Metro Metro Festival earlier this year. On Oct. 7, they hosted a live show at Ausgang Plaza in Montreal’s Rosemont neighbourhood for a crowd of around 150 people. They were joined by Jo Compadre, CHUNG and Mike Shabb.

Mr. Severe kicked off the show, proving his talent as an MC. His backing track proved unnecessary as he ripped through all his verses with a bold, captivating delivery. He did not miss a single beat and his fierce vocal presence persisted through all sorts of production, from vintage 50 Cent-style cuts to trap beats.

Jo Compadre joined Mr. Severe for their collaboration “Nothing Lasts Forever” before taking the stage on his own. He performed songs like “For The Cause” and “Palo Santo” with a strong and well-articulated voice, despite sometimes ad-libbing along to parts of verses rather than rapping them. His performance showcased an impressive, rapid and focused flow that he tackled with a brazen demeanour.

CHUNG’s stage presence was stellar. Her delivery was simultaneously slick and sexy, yet cutthroat and poignant. It is perfectly complemented by her beat selection, composed of smooth soul samples. Most of her setlist was taken from her recent mixtape Chung Shui II with Cotola. The grooves on “Everyone” and “You Know I Gotta” rung out irresistibly through the speakers. “The Drum Sound” paid homage to her Jamaican heritage with its reggae beat and her use of patois on the track. “Sweet Dreams” contrasted as an ominous, hard-hitting boom-bap cut. 

Jo Dolo brought a change of pace and a burst of energy by starting off with French-language drill music. His tone was remarkably cold, which allowed him to equally shine over slow-paced, gritty boom-bap production. Dolo successfully drew energy from the crowd, regardless of musical style. Fans in the crowd bounced their hands as he spits introspective rhymes and jumped around, energetically swinging his dreads.

Mike Shabb closed out the show with a showcase of his sonic versatility throughout the years. He performed his melodic rap hit “SPORTS!” (2019) before launching into material from his recent collaborative EP Shadow Moses with Montreal producer Nicholas Craven. Craven joined him onstage for a triumphant and proud display of the fruits of their creative alliance. He also premiered two new songs: the grim “Hurry Up,” produced by Belgian rapper JeanJass, and the lighthearted, jazzy “Hey Young World, Pt. 3.” He also paid tribute to fallen friend and frequent collaborator Jeune Loup, performing his viral tracks “Sensuelle” and “Back sur le BS”: two of the biggest rap tracks to ever come out of Quebec.

All in all, the event was a success, bringing together a handful of local MCs equipped with a variety of impressive flows, sounds, and styles.

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