This weekend was Toronto’s annual urban cultures festival ManifesTO.
Besides having a huge concert down at Nathan Philip’s Square, the festival came to the east and west end. Since I’ve lived in Scarborough my whole life, I decided to head down to the Civic Centre and see what was going on.
The day’s events included a barber’s battle, graffiti artist showcases, a hip hop chess tournament, and a ton of live music.
Some of my personal favourites were Chatta, a female reggae artist. I found her flow and personality really tough, I loved it; it’s like she knows who she is and that’s something I’m trying to do right now. She was wearing an Obama shirt and had the crowd chant “BARRACK OBAMA!”
Local spoken word artist Inn A Sense performed a few of her pieces and really excited the crowd. Her opening poem was about mother earth, how if we treat her well it will be good back but the minute we abuse it we lose it. It was cool to have a mix of different art-mediums.
Stolen from Africa – an organization using hip hop to spread education about social issues like racism, classism and sexism – was of course present. Their set included political lyrics over some rockin beats.
The last group to go on was Monolith, to what my boyfriend describes as the Wu-Tang Clan of Canada. They were really hyping everyone up. Their crew includes nine people – singers, MCs, producers and DJs. In one word, their set was amazing. Their beats are solid and the way they mix each member’s uniqueness in different songs is really, really cool. I bought their cassette tape – it was released in 1998, I was 10!
Stolen from Africa on stage
I had no idea Scarborough has such a lively hip-hop scene. I’ve been living here forever, and for the first time I had a real sense of community. This weekend made me realize how important it is to immerse yourself with your community and to support your local scene.