Which coast is the best coast?

A local’s perspective on how to eat and explore your way through two of Canada’s biggest cities in 24 hours.

One of my friends told me that I’m going to keep moving east until I end up right back in Vancouver, and that isn’t too far-fetched. I have been constantly migrating east ever since the end of high school— first Toronto, and now Montréal.

As a proud Vancouverite, I know the city like the back of my hand. Seriously, you could plop me down in the middle of Sapperton and I’d know how to get home. The same goes for Toronto. 

Any local of any city has their go-to places and I am proud to have culminated my own lists for both Vancouver and Toronto. I’ve got a lot of food and to-do recommendations; so in honour of summer plans being made, here are my *local’s* recommendations in the two cities.

Up first is my home base, Vancouver—prefacing this with the fact that I grew up in Kitsilano, which is ten minutes away from the University of British Columbia, so these recommendations are in and around that area.

Start the day off on a sweet note at Grounds for Coffee for the best cinnamon buns in the world. My mum and I have been frequenting Grounds since I was a toddler, so that should speak volumes. Alternatively, head up to Blue Chip at UBC for a bite (make sure to grab one of their iconic cookies), and explore the UBC campus. It is genuinely the most beautiful Canadian campus in my opinion and always has something new to check out. 

From there, hop on the 99 B-Line bus and get some sushi from Masa Sushi on Broadway—their Secret Garden Roll is definitely a must. If you aren’t in the mood for sushi, go to Sing Sing on Main Street and order an assortment of appetizers to nosh on. Dodge into a couple thrift stores or any of the hole-in-the-wall antique shops for some unique finds. 

For dinner, head over to Marcello Ristorante on Commercial Drive. Dubbed as Vancouver’s “Little Italy,” this area offers some pretty stellar Italian food, as well as some more thrift stores and parks. Wind down with some ice cream from Earnest Ice Cream on Quebec Street and East 2nd. They’ve always got the most unique flavours—such as whiskey hazelnut and London fog. 

That’s a pretty decent day spent in the main areas of Vancouver (excluding downtown, which is an entirely different world in and of itself ). 

Moving east to Toronto: home to big buildings and the best soup dumplings ever. These recommendations are mainly in and around the downtown neighbourhoods, with the exception of Roncesvalles. Start off your morning at Fran’s for some Toronto staple diner-style brekkie—I am partial to their College Street location. 

For lunch, head to Juicy Dumpling in Chinatown for the cheapest and best soup dumplings ever – I am forever grateful to my friend for introducing me to my now go-to. Explore the Chinatown area for some cool thrift stores and unique memorabilia finds. Or, go to Grillies on Dundas for an amazing pulled pork sandwich. 

Madras Kaapi on College is a haven for some South Indian style coffee; you can also check out the little stores in and around the area for some unique collectibles. My friend and I have spent hours there trying out the various pastries and food. Reunion Coffee Roasters in Roncesvalles is also great to grab a coffee and explore the picturesque little neighbourhood. I love poking around the main strip and wandering in the inside roads—I could easily spend all day there, especially since it’s the first place my Opa lived when he immigrated to Canada in ‘58.

Finally for dinner, check out Vivoli for some killer Italian food! After the surprise birthday party that my friends organized there for my 20th, it is forever a kindred spot for me. 

And there you have it! How to spend 24 hours in two of Canada’s biggest (and polar opposite) cities. 

Hopefully this awakened the tourist within!

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Drake – For All The Dogs

The Canadian rapper’s eighth studio album is occasionally great, yet bloated and mediocre like his other recent releases.

When the Toronto native began teasing For All The Dogs, he proclaimed, “They say they miss the old Drake, girl don’t tempt me.” Released on Oct. 6, 2023, his eight studio album contains glimpses of the quality of his older acclaimed material, yet suffers from the same major drawbacks that have plagued his recent releases.

The album starts off on a decent note, with Drake attacking a series of rap tracks with good performances. “Fear Of Heights” and “Daylight” notably feature high-energy trap beats and Playboi Carti-esque adlibs.  The artist’s rapping is adequate overall, though his usual ridiculous puns do appear throughout the album; some of the most ridiculous examples being “I wanna slide in your box like a vote” (“What Would Pluto Do”) and “Feel like I’m bi ’cause you’re one of the guys, girl” (“Members Only”).

Drake’s good performances are met with even greater guest appearances: J. Cole helps elevate their anthemic trade-off on “First Person Shooter” with a bold demeanor and clever bars, whereas Teezo Touchdown’s sermon-like singing on “Amen” is soothing and plays off Drake’s usual relationship-based humour. 

The album’s midsection is where Drake truly shines. The run from “Slime You Out” to “Members Only” features a handful of low-key and laid-back R&B tracks where Drake gives smooth and soft singing performances over slow, wavy instrumentals. “Members Only” is an atmospheric, nocturnal and wavy R&B track that would feel right at home on Drake’s 2015 mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, complete with a feature from OVO signee PARTYNEXTDOOR.

Unfortunately, there are many gripes to be had with For All The Dogs. With 23 tracks and over 80 minutes of runtime, the project essentially sets out to be bloated with filler tracks. Drake is absolutely asleep at the wheel on “7969 Santa,” wasting an airy, atmospheric beat on a mind-numbingly boring flow where he even begins to drone off-beat. Many features are notably downplayed or misplaced altogether. 

The sample of Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” on “7969 Santa” is a head-scratcher, as is the scantness of Keef’s contribution to “All The Parties.” The Chicago rapper delivers a greatly sung bit, yet Drake ends up changing the song’s key and singing Keef’s bit himself later on, making the feature feel unnecessary.

“IDGAF” is another curious case. The track begins with a minute-long ambient intro that proves to be virtually useless when it abruptly cuts to Yeat rapping. Drake’s sudden introduction on the track feels out of place and his appearance lasts only 40 seconds out of four minutes—making it nonessential. Drake simply tacked himself on a track by Yeat, who gives a far more enthralling performance.

“Calling For You” is also a huge waste of potential. The track starts off as one of the most fun moments on the record with Drake hopping on a lighthearted, R&B-infused drill beat from Cash Cobain. Unfortunately, 21 Savage is put over a separate, generic beat, which prompts an average and predictable performance. To make matters worse, both sections are bridged by an obnoxious, two-minute rant from a Mississauga Instagram model who complains about flying economy and likens eating oxtail and jerk chicken everyday on vacation to being in jail—talk about first world problems.

“Gently” featuring Bad Bunny is easily the worst offender. Drake’s performance is a stereotypically basic mish-mash of Spanish words so ridiculously cliché that it feels like a parody. Bad Bunny absolutely does his thing in the second half, proving that the song would be an easy hit if released on his own album a week later without Drake’s verse.

For All The Dogs is decent overall. There are some great tracks—as proven by the R&B material—although they are sandwiched between questionable feature placements, random beat switches, a mix of inconsistent sounds, and several mediocre tracks. Sure, the old Drake is still capable of coming back, but he only appears for one out of every 25 tracks that he releases.

Score: 6/10

Trial Track: “Members Only (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR)”


Areej Burgonio: A leader by example

The Stingers women’s basketball guard discusses stepping up as a leader this basketball season

There is a world of difference between the rookie Areej Burgonio was in 2018 and the veteran star she became this past season.

Going into the 2022-23 season, Stingers guard Burgonio was one of two senior players in a young team. It was also the first time in her four-year career with the Stingers that she had to take on a leadership role. 

“I had such great strong role models, and I was put in the position where I have to be that strong role model now,” said Burgonio.

It was a challenging adjustment at first for the Stingers playmaker who was previously known to keep more to herself.

“Being patient, being able to lead on and off the court, mentoring my rookies until they can be better basketball players while also keeping in mind that I have to perform as a point guard, it was tough,” she said. “But I’m glad I had that opportunity.”

Burgonio started playing basketball when she was 12 years old. Before coming to Concordia, she played for Crestwood Preparatory School, a Toronto high school with a well-established basketball program.

She went on to compete in a tournament in New York with her team from Crestwood, where she met Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens for the first time.

“Out of all the places, coach [Gittens] was there,” recalled Burgonio. “At first, given the location, I didn’t expect her to introduce herself from a Montreal university. Not going to lie, I [had] never heard of Concordia up until I met her.”

Head coach Tenicha Gittens and Burgonio on Senior Day. Evan Buhler/ Concordia Athletics

For Gittens, it was Burgonio’s attitude on the court that stood out to her.

“She [was] one of the smallest players on the court, but there was just something about her grit,” said Gittens. “I love the way she didn’t back down.”

Burgonio stands at five-feet tall, but Gittens didn’t think that mattered.

“She was one of the biggest players in terms of heart, aggressiveness and competitiveness,” she added. “That’s something I knew we needed on our team.”

The two stayed in contact, and when Burgonio eventually enrolled in sociology at Concordia,  she was invited to join the women’s basketball team after being scouted by the coaching staff while playing in Toronto.

As a 17-year-old rookie, Burgonio was surrounded by a very mature and strong team.

“I had to grow up fast,” Burgonio said. “When you’re surrounded by so many people like Caroline Task and Myriam Leclerc, you conform to their standards, which is excellence and nothing less.”

That year, Myriam Leclerc was a rookie guard like Burgonio, and Caroline Task was a third-year guard.

Burgonio went on to be named to the RSEQ All-Rookie team. Four years later, she was named to the RSEQ’s First Team All-Star and finished the season as the second-best scorer in the RSEQ.

Burgonio’s teammates pointed out that, throughout her career, the star player matured into a better and smarter athlete with extensive knowledge of plays and a great vision of the court. She also became more outspoken, especially this season.

“She had to be one of our top scorers, had to be one of our leaders defensively and be one of our facilitators as well,” said Gittens. “There is no player that I’ve coached at Concordia that has had more responsibility put on their shoulders and has stepped up to it.”

Serena Tchida, the team’s captain and a third-year forward, said that Burgonio abruptly went from being the sixth player to playing 40 minutes per game.

“This year, we didn’t have anyone on top of us to rely on so we had to take on leadership ourselves,” said Tchida. “She really embraced her role, especially when I injured myself and I wasn’t there to help her anymore.”

For the rookies of the team, having a veteran like Burgonio made all the difference.

“She wants to set an example for us,” said rookie forward Fabiola Lamour. “She takes the time to explain plays and she makes sure everyone is on the same page.”

Lamour recalled Burgonio often saying “my money’s on us,” her way of showing her team she believed in them. She also noted that Burgonio had made her feel welcomed on the team from the get-go.

Although Burgonio is a senior, she still has one year of eligibility left with the Stingers. She noted that, given she is only 22, she isn’t ready to walk away just yet.

“I do have goals, for example, going on the national team from the Philippines and playing professionally,” she said. “But at the same time I know that this chapter isn’t fully over if I still have that one year.”


The shawarma master plan

 Boustan expands into Ontario

Boustan is expanding to Toronto, but its new location in Scarborough is only part of what could be the master plan to conquer the GTA – one pita plate at a time.

“Toronto has a lot of shawarma restaurants. But Boustan, it’s a unique flavor,” said Mohammed Khalid Iqbal, the owner of the new franchise, located on Lawrence Ave., Scarborough, Ontario.

“Toronto is a big market, bigger than Montreal,” said Iqbal. “We will go even further actually. We are talking to people in Hamilton, in Niagara Falls. The plan is to have 50 new locations in the next five years.” Boustan’s plans are ambitious, considering their humble origins as a Montreal neighborhood Lebanese spot.  

Boustan’s first location was opened in 1986. Imad Smaidi, known to regulars as Mr. Boustan, ran the small location down a flight of stairs on Crescent St. until 2012. Smaidi made it a hotspot for late night, tasty Lebanese food where ex-Prime minister Pierre Trudeau would occasionally visit.

Smaidi sold the restaurant in 2012, and it has not stopped growing since. The chain went from five locations scattered around Montreal in 2016 to currently having over 40 restaurants open as far as Ottawa and Quebec City.

“I’m really looking forward to the shawarma war,” said Liam Earle, a Concordia student from Toronto and top 0.02 per cent Boustan customer at their St. Catherine St. location according to UberEatsats. “Ali Baba is finally going to have some competition,” he said, referring to another well-established Middle Eastern restaurant chain in the GTA. 

Boustan is also welcoming new franchisees. Their website states opening a Boustan franchise is “an affordable investment starting from $125,000.” Along with the name, franchisees are supervised and receive the input of an operations team.

When asked about the goal of the new location, Iqbal said that the spot is “for people from Toronto but [also for] people who know us from Montreal.”

The question now is, will Boustan go even further west? “I don’t know of any shawarma place in Vancouver as famous as Boustan,” said Isaac Tetreault, a Concordia student from B.C. 

Tetreault says it would be great if Boustan expanded out west. While Iqbal said that plans to open in Vancouver aren’t yet on the table, the franchise opening in Toronto seems to be the first step of what could be a rapid expansion across Canada.

Graphics by Maddy Schmidt


Cadence Weapon is here

Toronto-based rapper Cadence Weapon sheds light on his experience as a Canadian rapper and discusses current events and the pandemic’s impact on his music.

Nominated once previously for his self-titled album in 2018, Roland Pemberton was yet again nominated for the Polaris Music Prize Album of the Year for his recently released album Parallel World. The “propulsive energy to the majority of the lyrics of this album does come from the urgency of the subject matter, but also the urgency in which [he] created them.”

The Polaris Music Prize is an annual award exclusive to Canadian artists who produce groundbreaking and impactful LPs.

Pemberton feels like he is “just a Canadian guy”, originally hailing from Edmonton, is now based in Toronto where he writes most of his music. He also lived in Montreal for a six-year period, which is where he wrote the Hope in Dirt City LP and his entire self-titled album, which features songs like “Soju” and “Five Roses,” a reference to Farine Five Roses in the Ville-Marie borough.

Like every artist on the planet, Cadence Weapon was affected by the pandemic by having to work remotely to collaborate with artists on his latest album Parallel World. Regardless, Pemberton remarked enjoying working with artists remotely through multiple forms of communication, and it helped him attribute the theme of the album to our relationship with the internet. The artists featured on this LP are based all over the world, from London, England (Manga Saint Hilare), the United States (Fat Tony), and even Montreal (Backxwash).

He recently performed twice at The Garrison in Toronto, opened by artist Myst Milano, and has recently embarked on a tour across the United States alongside Fat Tony.” The two of them have collaborated before on two songs; “Poet Laureate” in 2018 and “WATER” in 2021.

Cadence Weapon has a discography span of 23 releases, 5 of which are full-length albums (LPs) with an average run-time of 40 minutes. To date, he has a Polaris nomination in 2018 and a Polaris Award for this year.

The Concordian spoke to Pemberton about his recent release, the music-making process, and what his ambitions are. This interview was done just hours before Cadence Weapon won the Polaris Award.


TC: What does “Cadence Weapon” mean? Does it play a role in the songs you write?

RP: When I first came up with that, it was something of a mantra. “My cadence is my weapon, my cadence is my weapon,” and it just kind of stuck. It’s really a way of describing my music, my music being a weapon of change.

TC: Using this mantra of your music being a weapon for change, I’ve seen that, especially in your latest album, you’ve tackled a lot of issues concerning racial divide and systemic racism. How did that songwriting process start?

RP: Well, I wrote this entire album throughout the pandemic, and during the early months of it, I was really inspired by the protests of George Floyd. Seeing people organizing and becoming active and engaged against systemic racism and institutional racism that I’ve always noticed and my family would discuss it and suddenly it’s just on every TV screen in the world and people are noticing all the stuff that is pervasive in our society for so long, so that was a big inspiration for me to really go deeper in this album.

TC: How did you feel when you witnessed these topics shown on TV?

RP: For me, I felt really emboldened to discuss these things more openly, doing a lot of research in the form of reading books and getting deeper into these subjects because I think I’ve always touched on said topics in subtle ways but I felt like the moment that we were in culturally, it really called for me to speak truth to power, and to go all-in when it comes to the racism that I see not just in America but here in Canada as well.

TC: What style is your forte?

RP: When it comes to writing songs, particularly this album, I’ll get fragments of lyrics and snippets of flows and write them down into my notes app. Usually, I’ll listen to a beat over and over and then eventually the ideas and flow start coming out to me and then fill in the blanks. Particularly for the song “Africville’s Revenge” on Parallel World, I wrote that song during a run. I got into jogging over the pandemic, so I would run and then throughout the session I’d stop and write down ideas so I wouldn’t forget. A lot of the propulsive energy to the majority of the lyrics of this album does come from the urgency of the subject matter, but also the urgency in which I created them.

TC: How did you fit in and use pop culture references in your albums, notably in “Ghost” and in “Soju”?  

RP: Particularly on “Ghost,” it’s not just the fact that I’m making references, it’s the meaning behind them. There’s a reason why I’m fitting them in there and there’s a reason for example why I bring up Fred Hampton on a song like that, “the ghost of my ancestors.”

TC: Which LP for you was the most fun in terms of features? 

RP: Definitely Parallel Worlds. It’s kind of strange because it was all done remotely, but I definitely felt the energy from every collaborator, whether it was having phone calls, texting, or Zoom. It felt very futuristic and in line with the subject matter of the album, which is our relationship with the internet.

TC: How do you prepare for shows?

RP: I’ll usually rehearse a song for a little bit, but I’ll call myself an athlete that doesn’t train enough. I definitely need to practice more often!

TC: Myst Milano is opening for you, have you linked with them before for shows?

RP: Through North by Northeast, I got them to play a show that I was curating, this is our first time performing together. Shoutout to Myst Milano.! They are actually raised in Edmonton, so we have that connection, and I really like all the new music opportunities from them.

TC: You’re a Toronto-based rapper, so what’s your tie to Montreal and why was it important enough for you to mention Montreal many a time in your songs? Over the weekend I listened to a song of yours called “Five Roses” (a reference to Farine), hence why I asked.

RP: I have a bit of familiarity with Montreal because I lived there for 6 years, from 2009 to 2015. When I was working on my 2018 album I was mostly in Montreal, Hope In Dirt City  [released May 2012] I also wrote when I was in the city. I feel like I’m just a Canadian guy, I’ve been across the country so much and thus have a sense of familiarity with audiences all over.

TC: You remixed songs from Lady Sovereign, Common, and Ghostface Killah. Which was your favourite experience?

RP: Oh well for me by far was the Lady Sovereign, I mean those other two were just bootlegs that I just made on my computer, but the Lady Sovereign one was actually the official remix that was commissioned by Island Records and it was also the first official remix that I did back in 2005. It was the first rap money I ever got. It was before I even had a record deal. I remember that I bought a pair of Nudie Jeans and a Bearbrick Doll and all kinds of early 2000s trinkets!

TC: What’s next for you?

RP: Thursday, I’m going to Denver to start a U.S. tour that’s going for the next month, touring across the states with Fat Tony, another rapper, and I have a book coming out called Bedroom Rapper. I wrote the book and it’s in the final stages right now but it’ll be coming out in May.


Photograph by Colin Medley


Fire on the thirteenth floor

Haviah Mighty and Lou Phelps join forces to put on a fantastic show at Le Belmont

The rap scenes of Toronto and Montreal have been at odds for a little while now. There aren’t many collaborations between artists in both cities but the Haviah Mighty and Lou Phelps show at Le Belmont on Feb. 21 proves that talent runs deeper than just the big names.

While the top billing showed that Mighty was the headliner, her and Phelps shared the stage for equal amounts of time at around 45 minutes each. Before them, Montreal rapper CJ Flemings warmed up the crowd.

Phelps arrived shortly after Flemings’ performance to a fairly empty venue. Most people had gathered in the back to sit and grab drinks until the lights dimmed and Phelps’ funky instrumentals started playing. In between album releases, Phelps bounced back and forth from his best hits like “2 Seater” and “Miss Phatty” off his 002/Love Me project and songs from his upcoming album Black Vogue Funk.

Montreal rapper Lou Phelps.

The transitions were seamless but the production on the new tracks sounded like they were hits-to-be. He never quite gave out the individual track names, but the songs seemed ready and Phelps performed them with shining confidence that made up for the crowd’s lack of knowledge of his songs.

The crowd was into it until Phelps asked if anyone loved weed—a question responded to by only a few cheers and claps. Funny enough, when Phelps asked the crowd to sing “Smoke that Shit,” everyone sang along.

Phelps’ performance was great but the crowd was ready for Haviah Mighty. 

When the Toronto rapper got on stage, the crowd got tighter and the breathing room became sparse. Mighty exuded confidence as if she was born and raised on stage.

On top of being a lively performer, Mighty also took plenty of time to speak to the crowd between tracks, shouting out her DJ and a producer from the album that happened to be in the crowd.

During the show, Mighty even got off stage and joined the crowd to incredible results. The audience was cheering, yelling, dancing, and everything in between while Mighty performed songs off her Polaris Prize-winning album Thirteenth Floor.

Toronto rapper Haviah Mighty.

Mighty is a talented and fierce rapper and it shows––especially when she performed “In Women Colour” without a beat before restarting it with the full fury of the production to back her. Even when she sang, it felt natural. “Wishy Washy” is a hidden gem of a song that should have gotten more radio-play than it did. Her sister, Omega Mighty, who was featured on the studio version of the track, couldn’t make it to the show so Haviah opted to sing her verse instead, and it sounded fantastic.

Neither rapper took up too much of the time which allowed for both performances to excel without overshadowing the other. The only problem with the show was that there weren’t enough people at the venue.

When talent like this occupies a small venue, it should be filled to max capacity. Despite this, Haviah Mighty and Lou Phelps put on an excellent show for  their fellow Canadians.


Photos by Ora Bar


Indigenous representation through street art

Reflecting on the place of visual art in the Montreal streetscape

Wherever you go on the island of Tiohtià:ke (Montreal), you will find street art. Regardless of the borough or neighbourhood, you are bound to stumble upon a sculptural installation, mural or the good ol’ reliable mosaics and vitrines in various metro stations. It’s what gives the city its charm and personality.

Other than during the annual MURAL festival, I rarely think about the street art that I see nearly every day. However, upon a recent weekend trip to Tkaronto (Toronto) I began to think about street art a lot more, primarily due to the fact that I did not really see any.

I’ve been told by many friends, and via a thorough Google search, that Toronto has plenty of wonderful street art. And yet, during my three-day venture through numerous districts and boroughs of Toronto, I did not come across a single one. Except, that is, for the renowned 3D TORONTO sign, situated in Nathan Phillips Square.

In 2018, the sign, which is very popular among tourists, was modified to include the Medicine Wheel, an Indigenous symbol that represents various spiritual concepts, including health. The last time I had seen the installation, I was quite young and I did not think much of it, as it was just a large illuminated “Toronto.” This time, I began to reflect on the place of the installation in the city, the inclusion of the Medicine Wheel, and Indigenous representation in the Montreal streetscape.

Other than the Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women mural, by artists Fanny Aisha, Guko and Monk-e, commissioned by Missing Justice, a solidarity collective working to eliminate violence and discrimination against Indigenous women in Quebec, I have yet to come across street art by Indigenous artists or for Indigenous people. However, there are plenty… just not in areas frequented by most.

So, what does this mean about representation in Montreal? Two large murals of Leonard Cohen are placed at two of the busiest intersections in the city, but Indigenous art work, like Skawennati’s The Celestial Tree, is situated on Pine Ave. and McTavish St., an intersection less frequented.

Shanna Strauss’ 2017 work, Ellen Gabriel & Mary Two Axe Earley, Tiohtià:ke unceded Haudenosaunee territory, pays homage to Mohawk activists Ellen Gabriel and Mary Two Axe Earley. Situated on St-Antoine St. West, in Saint-Henri, the mural features a portrait of the women and was created in solidarity with Indigenous women from Tiohtià:ke, in an effort to resist colonial violence and fight for the recognition of Indigenous rights.

Towards the downtown core of Montreal, at the intersection of Atwater Ave. and Lincoln Ave., one can find Meky Ottawa’s 2018 mural, Hommage à Alanis Obomsawin. As the name states. the work is an homage to Alanis Obomsawin, an activist committed to the defense of First Nations and the rights of Indigenous children. The mural consists of a portrait of Obomsawin, and numerous children holding hands.

Ottawa, an Atikamekw artist, collaborated with MU Montreal, in creating the piece. MU is a project that aims to turn Montreal into an open air museum. Since their conception in 2007, the group has produced over 120 murals.

At the McCord museum, one might stumble upon Inuk artist Jusipi Nalukturuk’s 1936 work, Inukshuk. The sculptural installation, owned by the McCord Museum, is an ode to Indigenous ancestry. The work consists of over 200 stones and was initially assembled in Nunavik.

Even upon further research, I am shocked to discover the plethora of hidden works by Indigenous artists within the Montreal art milieu. Each work offers a piece of history that is not taught in the classrooms and aims to maintain both personal and collective histories that have otherwise been destroyed by colonial violence.

Considering the diversity of artists featured at street art festivals, like MURAL, it is infuriating that Indigenous people are not properly represented on their own lands and in their streets, to say the least. With artists from Colombia, the Netherlands, and settlers being given the opportunity to showcase their works at one of Montreal’s largest art festivals, it certainly raises questions where representation and attribution are concerned.

I am left wondering, does it really count as representation if marginalized artists are offered a place to show their work that is virtually hidden from the majority of the population? It seems to me like yet another inadequate attempt at reconciliation.

Further information about Montreal street art can be found at Art Public Montreal, at, and at MU Montreal at


Graphic by @sundaeghost.


PHOTO GALLERY: Allan Rayman at MTelus

Allan Rayman at MTelus on November 29th, 2019.

Photos by Cecilia Piga


QUICKSPINS: Tory Lanez – Chixtape 5

With the fifth installment in his Chixtape series, Tory Lanez has refined his formula, and expounded upon it, bringing in a stacked list of features

Over the course of the decade, Tory Lanez has been carefully crafting a fan-favourite collection of R&B mixtapes with the Chixtape series. Sampling some of the genre’s biggest hits from the late 90s and early 2000s, Lanez has created a sound that seamlessly blends the new and the old. With the fifth installment, Lanez takes the formula that he’s familiarized fans with, and expounds on it.

On Chixtape 5, Lanez and producer Play Picasso have put a tremendous amount of care into updating these classics to fit contemporary R&B conventions, while maintaining what makes them classics. The instrumentals range from slightly enhanced versions of the originals to completely new songs based around the samples. This is the first installment to include the original artists on a majority of these tracks, and it helps to take the series to the next level.

For the most part, these featured artists enhance the songs they’re on, but they don’t all connect as they should. For example, Ludacris’ verse on “The Fargo Splash” is extremely underwhelming, and while it’s not enough to ruin the song, it could’ve been left off.

Overall, Lanez has delivered a nice ode to the classic R&B sound of the early 2000s. The production is consistently fantastic throughout, and while Lanez himself isn’t saying much of substance, his melodies and energetic presence make up for it. Chixtape 5 might not reinvent the wheel, but it builds on the foundation laid by its predecessors, taking the series to new heights.


Trial Track: “Jerry Sprunger”

Star Bar:

“I know dropout Rovers, pop out sofas

Was with me when I wasn’t eatin’, we would pop out Stouffer’s

You see, that’s why I’m still f***in’ with you

Head down, ten toes, still thuggin’ with you” (Lanez on “A Fool’s Tale (Running Back)”)


Daniel Caesar shows off his pipes on CASE STUDY 01 tour

Daniel Caesar is loved.

At least that’s what the crowd at Place Bell yelled to him at every opportune lull throughout the crooner’s set last Tuesday night.

Despite some trying to ‘cancel’ the singer in the earlier part of 2019 for his defense of controversial comments made against African-Americans, Caesar had no problem drawing in a massive audience on the first snowfall of the season. Fresh off the summer release of his second studio album, CASE STUDY 01, the Ontario native was back in Laval on his tour of the same name.

The R&B artist rose in popularity following the positive reception surrounding his debut studio album, Freudian, that was nominated in the Best R&B Album category at the 2018 Grammy Awards. The album also featured his nominated singles “Get You” featuring Kali Uchis and “Best Part” featuring H.E.R.

The show’s set was simplistic, with a full band playing behind a pair of transparent curtains and two vocalists on either side of Caesar. The visuals featured juxtaposed videos of aesthetics pertinent to the songs being played, like strippers pole dancing to “Who Hurt You?” and a dancing Kali Uchis for her “Get You” feature.

Caesar played most of his new album – one more experimental in nature than the gospel-centric Freudian. This allowed him to show off his vocal range that was raw at its core and was accompanied by little, if any, of his own backing track vocals – a breath of fresh air as a concert-goer in a hip hop and R&B era that seems to be dominated by lip-syncing and laziness on stage.

Three songs in, Caesar brought out fellow Torontonian Sean Leon. The crowd’s initial reaction was weak, perhaps not recognizing the guest on-stage. Yet, once the two dove into their collaboration track “RESTORE THE FEELING,” the audience piped up and clapped for the stranger in front of them.  Leon thanked the crowd for his first performance in Montreal and the two artists gave each other a loving embrace before Leon exited the stage.

Caesar’s trifecta of “OPEN UP,” “Who Hurt You?” and “ARE YOU OK?” truly highlighted his voice and musical capabilities. The latter did not have any accompanying background instruments – only Caesar and his guitar. He frequently rotated between acoustic ballads and R&B melodies throughout.

The most well-received songs were undoubtedly those from his first album, whether this was due to the fact that they are the best in Caesar’s catalogue or that the crowd was reminiscing on the previous times he’s performed in Montreal over the last few years. The highlight was undoubtedly “Best Part,” of which the audience took over the whole first two and a half verses before Caesar even stepped towards the microphone.

Caesar finished off the night with “SUPERSTITION,” a personal favourite on the album and the perfect closer for an intimate night. After thanking the crowd for a lovely evening and wishing them a safe drive home in the snow, the chants brought him back on stage for one more song. Caesar ended with “Japanese Denim,” one of the first singles from his impressive repertoire and left attendees reminded of his earlier catalogue before the breakthrough success.

Photo by @Villedepluie


Anders: platinum plaque and sold-out shows

The Concordian sits down with Toronto R&B artist Anders after his Osheaga performance to talk about his first platinum record, sold-out shows and the powerful team behind him

Anders is nowhere to be found. His team greeted me and sat me down on a park bench in Osheaga’s “Artist World” where we’re supposed to meet for  our interview, but the man of the hour isn’t in my line of sight. There’s talk that he’s eyeing down some sunglasses at a nearby pop-up shop, or that he may be refuelling after an exhausting hour of work. After all, performing in front of a crowd of hundreds in the blistering heat of the summer isn’t always easy.

Mere minutes later, Anders joins our table and introduces himself. Whatever he was off doing, he made sure to make himself comfortable after his performance, grabbing a glass of wine and opting out of his “Off-White” Jordan 1s for red Palm Angels sliders that matched his t-shirt. Anders is an extrovert – made most evident by his bubbly personality and genuine desire to want to speak about his craft. At just 24-years old, the Toronto R&B singer has a lot to be proud of.

Anders has most recently achieved his first platinum record as a for his collaborative track with Canadian DJ duo Loud Luxury’s Love No More. He compared the timing of the release of this song to the story of David and Goliath, since it came out following the worldwide success of Loud Luxury’s multi-platinum single, Body – a truly hard song to follow.

“Me and LUCA, who is kind of my right-hand guy, we created the song one late night in a studio called DAIS back in Toronto and it was originally called: I Don’t Want Your Love,” said Anders. “But I linked up with Loud Luxury, who were like ‘Yo, we wanna work, we wanna do some shit.’ At this time they had just put out their hit song, Body, and it hadn’t  blown up yet. It was just sort of starting to– I remember at the time it was like two million plays and they wanted to do some shit so I was like, ‘Yo, I got this one I already recorded if you guys want to do something to it.’ I sent them the vocals, and then they bounced me back Love No More saying ‘We’re gonna roll it out, we’re gonna go with it.’”

The success of Love No More wasn’t Anders’ first prominent feature in the music industry. Following the release of the artist’s second EP, Twos, Anders sold out his debut performance at the Phoenix venue in Toronto that holds over 1000 people. This accolade was documented in detail with the release of The Road to Phoenix, a YouTube documentary curated by NST – the team, friends and label that Anders wholeheartedly stands by.

Anders and interviewer Jacob Carey discuss music and Toronto’s influence at Osheaga’s “Artist World” – Photo by Jackson Roy

“Me and my two team members, Derek [Hui] and Will [Nguyen], when we started coming in the scene and making music, we wanted something that was more than just being an artist,” Anders said. “We kind of wanted a brand to go with it as well. So we created NST. In the beginning, we were just selling merch and hats, but eventually, we want to do music, labels, you know. Film, fashion – everything. That’s just a brand we created to kind of rally behind and it’s also something good for, you know, if ever I want to take some time to chill, we still have NST. It’s not like we’d have nothing to do.”

Anders’ relationship with NST is a two-way street, with both sides often consulting one another before making their next moves. Anders’ relationship with music, which dates back to his early childhood when he was forced into piano lessons and band practice, allows him to play a hands-on role in his songs’ productions. While he takes care of the musical aspect of NST, his teammates help boost the brand and market the products.

“In the beginning, me, Derek, Will – we were just independent artists with no connections to labels, wondering, ‘Ok, how do we market? How do we push the music?’” said Anders. “Will and Derek came from a background of producing events, so we said ‘Let’s do what we’re good at. Let’s put events out.’ So we did a little run of going from city to city to do these listening parties, because that’s kinda what we knew. We didn’t know that other shit. I don’t know how to get on a playlist.”

While Anders relied on real-life networking from city to city to build a fan base, the artist is aware of the role that his own city played in his success. Toronto is home to countless of international superstars, namely Drake and The Weeknd– two of Anders’ inspirations and influences. Without these catalysts, Anders thinks that musicians wishing to make it in Toronto would have a harder time doing so.

“It’s tough cause you know, even Drake, if it wasn’t for Drake I wouldn’t make music,” said Anders. “When you have somebody around you to look up to and say ‘Oh, they did it. Why can’t we do it?’ Right? But if you’re in the middle of fucking nowhere, where nobody made it, you kind of have to lead by example… There’s so much inspiration but if there’s nobody around you to see that, you kinda gotta draw from other places and pave that path on your own. It’s definitely a blessing to have an example.”

Similar to his idols, Anders does not want to box himself in as just an R&B artist, or just a rapper, but a multi-faceted artist with a lot to show for. In the short time that he’s been in the scene, Anders is proving just how far a strong network, devoted fan base, and loyal team can take you.


Navigating beyond rough waters

Toronto rapper NAV has come a long way since his performance at Osheaga in Montreal a mere 10 months ago – and he knows it.

The XO signee took to MTelus last Tuesday night to a wildly enthusiastic crowd. Following a high energy performance from fellow Torontonian rapper Killy, there seemed to be a lull in the audience as fans grew impatient during intermission. As water bottles began to be tossed and “Let’s Go Raptors!” chants filled the room, NAV’s official DJ, DJ T-Jizzle, took to the stage.

With the task of warming up the crowd for the main act, T-Jizzle provided them with their appetizer – a medley of some of hip hop’s biggest hits. The first notes of “Suge (Yea Yea)” by North Carolina rapper DaBaby was enough to knock the fatigue out of everyone there, and the vibe surely did not die down as T-Jizzle played the obligatory “XO Tour Life” anthem by Lil Uzi Vert. As mosh pits broke out track after track, fans were already dripping sweat and removing layers of clothing when it was time for the main act to show face.

NAV adjusts his earpiece as fans take pictures and throw up their XO hand signs. Photo by Immanuel Matthews

Enter NAV, dressed in an all-black track jacket, black jeans and a thick XO diamond chain that glistened as it caught camera lights. However, the lights in the crowd died down as the seconds ticked on. Fans knew that it wouldn’t be wise to keep their phones out – the risk of dropping them was too high. Beginning his set with “To My Grave,” the opening track off his most recent album, Bad Habits, the crowd erupted into a frenzy unlike many before. Fans were not just pushing and dancing anymore; the standing crowd, as a whole, was swaying back and forth. As shoves came from behind and everyone squished like a can of sardines towards the stage, those who got there early enough to secure front-row spot retaliated by pushing back. From the balcony, this would look like an uncomfortable and non-consensual version of the wave that fans start at hockey games.

NAV did not lack any new material at his Montreal show. His most recent album, which debuted at #1 on Billboard album charts, is 24 tracks of new material to perform for his fans. Bad Habits became the artist’s first number one album, and you could see it in the way he carried himself. NAV stood with his shoulders high. He danced by getting low. Often times, he’d stop singing with a smile on his face as he soaked in the lyrics from the crowd that sang back at him.

The rapper’s newfound spotlight surely brought in new fans to the show but NAV nonetheless treated his day ones to older material. The artist’s debut in 2017 with his eponymous EP NAV generated a buzz for the auto-crooner early on in his career. However, mixed reviews of his debut album Reckless put the rapper’s fate in jeopardy with critics doubting his longevity. Now, after having bounced back with the reception of Bad Habits, NAV felt it necessary to thank his loyal fans with tunes that they would be most familiar with. Many were, perhaps, most ecstatic to hear the Travis Scott assisted song “Beibs in the Trap” whose bass was so loud that the floor felt like it was on the verge of caving in.

NAV teased his fans by telling them that it was time to go home, but the roars continued as strong as ever five songs later. The rapper paid homage to his label head, The Weeknd, by performing their single “Price on My Head,” and closed the night with the Meek Mill assisted track, “Tap.”

NAV exited the stage with his pearly whites shining as bright as his pendant, proud of the progress he has made in his neighbouring city.

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