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Review - Starting From Scratch 25th Anniversary

Starting From Scratch 25th Anniversary
by Addi "Mindbender" Stewart
Thursday, November 19th, 2015
Tattoo Nightclub

Toronto just finished five days of celebrating one of the best disk jockeys we've ever been lucky enough to call one of our own. The unstoppable force of turntable madness known as DJ Starting From Scratch aka DJ SFS just did a historic run of tribute events for his unprecedented success in Canadian music history, and for that, we salute him to the utmost fullest! A rap show, a DJ tribute, a dinner/comedy roast, another jam and an afternoon brunch is just about enough to celebrate for the ooman and mans dem. I am not sure who actually made it to all five events, besides SFS of course, but I was at the first tribute, and I have to say it will probably go down as the Toronto's last great rap concert of 2015.
Starting ON TIME at 7 PM sharp, thank goodness, Trixx tore open the stage with his usual clever witty comments and thinly-veiled hilarious insults to whoever deserves to get called out. Always entertaining for Toronto. Trixx started the first of many salutes to DJ Starting From Scratch, and the crowd raised their glasses and applauded accordingly. And without further ado, the show began. Dwayne Morgan set it off with a poem about single fathers and children, and the steady tempo of the piece caught on as it kept gaining momentum. Eventually everyone quieted down and by the end of his performance, he got a nice round of applause. Smart to keep the sets to a two-song/five-minute minimum. Just show love and keep it moving. T-Rexxx then came on and greeted the people as one of the other hosts, and did his thing. Next up was the east coast's dopest R&B rising star JRDN, dropping 'Magic' and 'Right Now', which rang through the venue with confident glory and resonant impact with all the ladies. That dude has got everything it takes to make it. I hope for big things in 2016 for JRDN. Next up, the house DJs of Sound Quest Crew laced the venue with some dope ass James Brown music, before August Rigo came thru with a live guitarist on his side. Dude is pure jokes: he goes "I'm Filipino! We are like the Black Asians!" to which the crowd laughed along. He ripped into a Michael Jackson cover of PYT to start, and it was GOOD. His own single, a song called 'Version', was then delivered with an admirable message, but it's a hard act to follow when you smash an MJ song out the gate. By the end it got grooving. Live guitar helps! Next up: the Queen of the Scene slid thru to make dreams come true: Michie "bow yuh bloodclot self down" Mee came through lookin glike ten million dollars, and laced a wikked mini-set, including 'Slave', 'Jamaican Funk', 'Badgyal Bubble' and a few other jams. Straight killing tings and looking all b-girled out in her timeless as always fashion styles, Michie Mee TRULY is a epic icon pioneer superstar, and she showed respect to SFS as the crowd showed respect to her at the same dyam time. Cha!
The big homie Jelleestone came out next, and it was great to see him on stage again. Dude holds it down. 'Money' was how he introduced himself, but it wasn't until he started performing his dope new song and delivering a freestyle while giving big shouts to SFS did the crowd really get involved. His SFS sing-a-long was hype as hell and the support felt for Jellee that was being given to SFS was real. Ray Robinson was next, and dropped a satsifying couple joints for the people before quietly disappearing. And then the third host, DJ Mastermind, introduced the visually-magnetic Melanie Durrant, one of the wild cards of Canadian R&B. Logically, she rinsed 'Bang Bang', which came across hard as nails, but unfortunately, she had a bad microphone set up, and the soundman was not looking out for her. Regardless, being the professional she is, she never gave up on her performance, and at the very end of the show, she let the beat stop playing, and then BELTED out a single super powerful note that more than overcompensated for the underwhelming sound that the soundman was torturing her with. Just one moment, one note, with one mic can save a whole heartbreaking feedback scenario. It was kinda magical.
Next up, Shawn Desman came out, looking slick as all get out, and offered his radio rockers, 'Get Ready' and other slick songs for the people, and surprisingly, they sounded decently acceptable tonight. In the context of paying honor to SFS, Toronto's biggest hip hop radio DJ, some radio-friendly records just makes sense. Plus it wasn't a whole half hour of Can-con pop-lite, so it was all good. T-Rexxx went as far as to declare Shawn "the consummate performer". And now for something completely different: DJs paying honor to a DJ, as it should be. The big homies DJ Grouch, D-Styles and Lil Jaz aka the disk jockey crew known as Turnstylez, do a dope set for a good 10-15 minutes, with solo segments as well as simultaneous scratching segments in sequence, which is a thing that does NOT happen very much anymore! It was fresh as hell to see three people cutting up records and making noise out of thin air. Never stop that! Next on the stage was a very energized Rochester, and his firecracker spirit was the perfect pick-up to elevate the show in the second half of the evening. Lots of praise came from his smiling lips: "If it wasn't for Scratch, a lot of us wouldn't be known like we are!" True tings. And aka Juice's performance of "Pull Up" was hype as hell and fuck! Now that is a hard act to follow, so Dru just came thru and did his one, two dance tracks and peaced on out quietly. I wasn't too blown away by the music he chose to rock, but he DEFINITELY was wearing the nicest pair of gold Patrick Ewings I have ever seen. Bure jokes for T-Rexxx to say "that takes me back. Dru is original light skin singer!" Mans dem was moonlighting for Trixx's job and ting. Some time and space needed to be prepared for what happened next, because everything, and I mean ~HEVRYTING~ was taken up ten levels when THE JANE STREET RAISED QUEEN ROYALTY EMPRESS NAMED JULLY BLACK STEPPED ON STAGE! Lawdamercy does that woman have *presence* when she enters the room. All eyes were on her as she poured some heartfelt stories about her friendship with DJ SFS, including such real nuggets like "Scratch will inquire about your sick mom, check up on your dad, or just ask you about your health" beyond wanting your next hot record. The support was tangible. Then Jully dropped the jewel 'Between Me and You' and a brand-new track with a classic dancehall riddim under it... and with only two joints, she re-affirmed the eternal fact of her effortless dominance and natural grace on the highest plateau of performance. Truly regal.

It was as if there was some pseudo-reunion of the Circle seeing as how the homie YLook and the homie Solitaire were in the house... clack, clack! RE-LOOOOAD! It was a treat to see the Ill Flowa Chiz-nock aka ya homie Choclair got up on the mic once again, and WRECK SHOP.
Chocs took it back to 'Where I Been', which sounded fucking dope, after all this time. But before that, he proudly strutted on stage and said, with a certain clever punctuation: "WHAT UP, T DOT O DOT!" Ha ha. Been a long time since I heard him say that on the mic. Ice Cold and 1999 was a totally other era... but 'Where I Been' still banged. Major props to Choc for his hilarious stage banter. "When I was coming up... ~LYRICS~. That's all I'm going to say about that." HAW HAW! Preach, bredren. Next, 'Rubbin' came on and all the people went hype. Singing that chorus will never not feel fun. The festivities continued with the soul brother Glen Lewis gracing the stage next. It was so satisfying to hear him lace 'Lonely', 'Back For More' (featuring a totally unscripted cameo performance by some excited young Jamaican man named Kool-Aid), another sweet slow jam and then, due to overwhelming crowd pressure, he blessed us with THAT timelessly sweet and perfect love jam: 'Don't You Forget It', and everyone melted while singing it together. Thanks Glenn! It was jokes to see SFS both enjoying the show, while wanting it to move along faster, when things were behind schedule due to so much great moments happening on stage. The good brother JD Era was humble and hype enough to come out and explode while performing just one song, 'Smoking Good', and then bowing out just as quickly. Smart move. One of the best jokes of the night came when Trixx stepped on stage and said "You see that? That's negro magic!" Ha ha. It was almost as hilarious as when he was handing out SFS25 hats, he said "Mindbender, you're over here having enough fun for seven parties... here, you take this hat! I don't want to get mash up from you wylin' out..." Jokes were a gwannin, but I digress. The royalty pageant continued marvelously, when Her Magnificence Melanie Fiona glided onto the stage... looking stunning in some elegant and tasteful skirt and jacket... AND is also five months pregnant... AND is wearing high heels! Damn superwoman, she is. MF came up from Los Angeles, just to smash two sparkling songs to pieces, offer her thanks and appreciation of Starting from Scratch, and then just as smoothly, floated off stage. Who does that? Someone very special, that's who. And then... the show went nuclear.
King Kardinal Offishall came stomping out, MORE HYPE AND CHARGED UP THAN ANYONE IN CANADA AT THE MOMENT, and says "YOW! I wanted to bless you with some songs for your 25th Anniversary, SFS... but... WE HAVE NO CHUNES, BREDREN!" The crowd is like "dawww, this guy! LOL, what's he talmbout?" And it was the perfect set up for Kardinal to then MURDER the bloodclot stage repeatedly and ruthlessly. No words can describe how epic it was to hear Kardinal rap "It was a cool and lonely..." before the boombastic beat for ON WID DA SHOW dropped and everyone went fucking insane. Kardi was like "wheeeeel and come again!!" and dropped it a bit more as the whole room got electrified with 90's Toronto hip hop energy. Classssic moment! Then Kardi's like "we have no chunes, bredren!" Then dropped HUSTLIN. "Walk and live. Talk and !!!!" when them horns were blaring, it was pandemonium deluxe. And he kept on with this hilarious ironic theme, lacing EVERYDAY RUDEBOY next. But when he brought out Kwajo Cinqo from Ghetto Concept and let the big brother rock E-Z ON THE MOTION, it was nearly a moment to cry tears of joy. (Gunshot props for Kardi who took a moment and said "I got the name 'Offishall' after I heard the GC mans dem drop that song 'Certified'..." Toronto history being told. Listen up!) And then, of course... Kardi had to rinse OL' TIME KILLIN', which was fucking b-boy/b-girl destruction deluxe supreme. I even had to forgive Kardinal for kicking a whole heap of rum and cokes and a Heineken bottle on me while I was standing in front row, cause the music, the energy, the power and the vibe was SO HYPE, I couldn't even blame him, haha. Still, watch it, nuh bredren?! Lucky thing I love you like family! But why didn't Jully Black come out and lace the hook? If that happened, the walls woulda come crashing down... still, who could be mad at King Kardinal for doing something as mindblowing as bringing out RED-1 from the Rascalz and Choclair to perform NORTHERN TOUCH! Certainly not I. And I was happy to sing along with the whole crowd acapella as he finished it all off with BACARDI SLANG, putting a gunshot exclamation point on the amazing dedication to all the records made in Canadian music history, that have all been supported and rinsed right by the brother Starting From Scratch. What a mad jam. But it wasn't done!! 
Kardinal then passed the mic baton to the brother Maestro, who did a crowd-accompanied performance of 'Let Your Backbone Slide' (seeing DJ Mel Boogie spit lyrics to her brother's song was a heart-touching Heritage Moment in Canadian rap history, please believe it) as well as 'Conducting Thangs' (big up to Ian Andre Espinet for coming and doing the kickstep dance with me)! then shouted out BK legends Nice and Smooth's Greg Nice, who came out and did 'DWYCK' seemingly impromptu, and taking the show to epically historically mythical levels, officially.
The fact that Maestro's performance of 2 Much with Kwajo and everyone's peace sign in the air almost didn't happen was because the entire event was almost too much for life. But it did happen. All of it.

And as everyone gave one last shoutout of love and respect to DJ Starting From Scratch and the 25+ years he's helped spread Canadian music, the night faded away into the history of my mind as one of the best gatherings of Canadian talent in 2015, and a timeless tribute to one of the best DJs in the world.

Peace to you and all the work you have put in, DJ SFS. May the next 25 years be even more amazing!

One Love from Mindbender Supreme

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