[Review] Harbourfront Centre SoundClash Festival featuring Elzhi (Toronto)

It was a hot evening on July 14th, 2012 however, the breeze from the water made the scene much more comfortable as the annual Sound Clash Music Festival was held at the Harbourfront Centre Stage in Toronto. With a number of free shows spanning across two days, this years festival saw Detroit MC “Elzhi”, “The Freedom Writers” and popular faces such as Ice H20 signee JD Era as well as Toronto native Rich Kidd take to the West Jet main stage.
It was my first time seeing each of these artists perform live. The Harbourfront centre came off as a wonderful venue with a massive stage and a lightshow that was sure to impress. The larger than life Canadian flag portrayed from the rafters made everyone feel right at home, alongside the CN Tower, which could be seen in plain site only a few hundred meters away.

Up first were the Freedom Writers consisting of; Big Sproxx, Theology 3, Tona, Adam Bomb, Frankie Payne and Progress. Joined by special guest Rich Kidd, this dynamic group delivered songs as well as stage presence that seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed by everyone in attendance. With DJ Riccachet behind them, the elite group of Toronto emcees continued on with their set; each member dressed accordingly in a “Freedom Writers” black t-shirt reading “For the Change” on the back. A standout track from their performance was Tona ft. Adam Bomb – No One [Prod: Rich Kidd]. This was the song that saw the performers and audience dance wildly shouting “Kick In the Door” as they waved their hands back and forth.

Elzhi @Harbourfront Centre Toronto 2012
It wasn’t long after; that the attention shifted as onlookers highly anticipated JD Era to hit the stage. Sporting black shorts and a Jersey that read “Land of the Brave” JD Era took the stage by storm, putting on for his city yet once again. The last time I came close to JD was at his ICEH2O signing party in Toronto, seeing how far he’s come since than shows me that it’s only a matter of time before artists start getting the recognition they deserve. Performing his T-DOT remix freestyle of G.O.O.D. music’s infamous track “Mercy”, JD Era didn’t hold back one bit as the Toronto rapper put his talents on display with clarity and complex rhymes. Songs that followed came from his mixtape “No Handouts” which saw a great deal of success and positive reviews from both critics and fans. JD Era put on a memorable performance that was appreciated by many, this was a great way to get the crowd amped up for the headliner of the evening.

Elzhi @Harbourfront Centre Toronto 2012
As the night sky darkened and Yacht parties behind me gathered, the real attention and focus shifted towards the stage as the main act of the night “Elzhi” came out on stage. Fans packed the first five rows standing the entire time, intrigued by what they were about witness. Known as Detroit’s “Best Kept Secret” Elzhi, wearing army shorts, fitted cap and a denim jacket wasted no time as he and DJ Nana jumped into his extensive catalog of tracks to brace the audience with. Notorious for his unique sound that has inspired countless groups, the former Slum Village member performed a track entitled “D.E.M.O.N.S. off his debut album “The Preface” released back in 2008. As we moved later on into the night Elzhi got right into some tracks of his mixtape “Elmatic” produced by Will Sessions, as a tribute to Nas’ classic debut Illmatic. The first song performed off the tape was “Represent” which seemed to be a crowd favorite. Interacting with the crowd, Elzhi mentioned that the venue reminded him of a place back home called “Chene Park” making it clear that many legends have performed there in the past. Sharing a story with all of us speaking on his upbringing, Elzhi jumped into another track off Elmatic “It Aint Hard To Tell”. By this time the seats were full and even those who were out for a walk near the harbour couldn’t help but stop and catch a glimpse as to what was going on. As many of us looked on, Elzhi performed another song called “Blue Widow” off his upcoming album “The Weather Report” and a freestyle before ending the night with one of the standout songs off Elmatic “Detroit State of Mind”.

Elzhi @Harbourfront Centre Toronto 2012

Whether you came by yourself, as a pair or in a group it’s safe to make the assumption that this was a great event from start to finish. Showcasing Toronto artists’ as well as having the opportunity to witness a legend was truly something special. The venue itself was a great atmosphere to be a part of as age groups ranging from all over enjoyed themselves. Being my first time at the Harbourfront Centre It can easily be said I hope it’s not my last. The show moved along in perfect rhythm as true hip-hop fans appreciated every moment.

Review By: Michael L
Photography By: Janine Therese