[Review] Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth @ The Sound Academy (Toronto)

On August 16, 2012, legendary New York Hip-Hop duo Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth made their way to The Sound Academy in Toronto. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the classic 1992 album “Mecca and the Soul Brother” they performed the album in its entirety. The album has been widely acclaimed as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, making this event even more spectacular. Fans made their way inside the venue for what was sure to be an unforgettable evening.

With DJ Mastermind on the turntables, the atmosphere inside the Sound Academy began to get busier as hip-hop enthusiasts waited patiently for Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth to take the stage. DJ Mastermind provided the anxious crowd with a great set of classic rap songs that included: Notorious B.I.G. “Who Shot Ya”, Raekwon “Incarcerated Scarfaces”, Pharaoh Monch “Simon Says”, Nas “Made You Look”, Gang Starr “Above the Clouds” and KRS One “Sound Of Da Police” which were thoroughly enjoyed by those in the crowd. Looking around, it was evident this was an older audience, but that didn’t stop individuals of a younger generation from coming out either. With great music and an energetic MC, the wait didn’t seem that long compared to other events I’ve attended.

Being one of my favorite venues for concerts, the Sound Academy provided great lighting and excellent sound. With several bar locations and more than enough room for spectators, it was more than fitting as the lively audience stretched all the way to the rear of the venue. A visual remained on stage the entire evening as a large screen portrayed the image of the albums front cover. Talkative groups anxiously anticipated the performance as more fans made their way through the main doors, while others came back inside from the patio. By now it was 11:30pm, as everyone knew it was only going to be a matter of time before the legendary duo made an appearance on stage.

As the MC for the night made his way back on stage, he yelled to the crowd “Are you ready?” Without hesitation Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth emerged from backstage to the likes of the audience clapping and screaming vigorously. As Pete stepped behind the turntables, C.L. took center stage while the two got the show started, but not before shouting out the late Heavy D. Jumping into their album “Mecca and the Soul Brother” the duo performed with a great deal of energy as they played songs such as; “For Pete’s Sake”, “Lots of Lovin” and “Act Like You Know” all while Pete Rock rapped standing behind the turntables. Each song had the majority of members in the audience moving their head back and forth as the vibe inside the venue was instantly transformed into a classic feeling of true rap.

The duo kept the liveliness continuing into the night as they performed other cuts from the album including; “Soul Brother #1”, “The Basement” and “Straighten It Out”. Interacting with the crowd, the performers took a poll on which side of the crowd was the liveliest, moving from left to right as both sides shouted loudly. However, there was no clear winner as everyone in attendance that night was more than excited. The old school feel inside the Sound Academy was more than obvious as a handful of individuals began to break dance near the back stage. Asking us to raise our fists in the air, C.L. Smooth chanted “Power to the people” as the entire audience lifted their arms toward the ceiling, uniting as one.

Pete Rock jokingly stated to C.L. Smooth that the two could switch roles on stage as they both laughed at the thought. Interacting with the crowd yet again, the artists and audience chanted “Mecca and the Soul Brother” repeatedly. Although this event was special from the beginning, one moment during the night truly stood out. It was when the duo performed “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” with blue lights on them; they played the original record in which the sample for the song was taken from. Dedicating the track to every fallen soldier in hip-hop giving examples such as: Tupac, Biggie, Big L, J Dilla and Guru. Fans showed their respect as they appreciated every minute. After performing more tracks off the album, the show eventually came to an end.

Showing their appreciation, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth thanked the audience for supporting their music after all of these years. Those who came out that night left more than satisfied, as this was a great concert from start to finish. The two legends put on a more than memorable show that night as everyone in attendance had the chance to witness their craft. That night we all celebrated the 20th anniversary of “Mecca and the Soul Brother” with drinks, laughter and a passion for true hip-hop music.

Review By: Michael Lavictoire