Metro Metro came correct

A review of the inaugural edition of the Montreal hip hop festival.

Hip hop, loves: occasionally off-schedule, always on time. Except this weekend’s first edition of new fest Metro Metro was only the latter.

When the last note dissipated into the East End skies while an orange moon lit the night as though a power greater only than festival closing headliner Future, it could be said that the upstarts behind this festival came correct, kept every promise, and perhaps have even given the more established organizations putting on extravaganzas of this nature pause today to ask themselves what more can be done to make things tighter.

That’s especially true when it concerns the last-minute artist cancellations that occasionally mar the festival experience. Patience is a virtue but a few extra minutes’ leeway here and there to ensure quality over quantity need not even be forgiven. Getting the look, feel and sound right, and giving in-demand, often jet-lagged popular artists a little time to get their game face on is worth the wait.

The fact that not a single act this weekend was cancelled, as was elsewhere suggested could happen, is a testament to the ability of Metro Metro organizers to get their crosses and dots straight. Aside from Cardi B’s usual touring DJ having apparent border troubles (allowing Canadian DJ Charlie B a chance to floss on these First Nations territories), murmurs of “no way” were quelled by due diligence. Luck, I was once told (by no less than Killer Mike) is simply a meeting of preparedness and opportunity.

Fortune, therefore, was in the favour of all guests for the weekend. And by the way, the festival name makes total sense now. Metro there, metro back, no wandering over the hills and far away. A green line service interruption on Sunday afternoon didn’t seem to stop merry-makers from getting to the show.

Once again, earlier obligations in the day (this time, dancing under the sun and rain for Piknic Electronik’s season kickoff, to be discussed in another article this week) had me balancing my time. By the time I was ready to trade soul-clappin’ fun for gun-clappin’ drums, metro service was smooth, and in minutes I was back at l’Esplanade du Parc Olympique. Rain did little to erase the smiles at either party spot, and as I exited Pie IX metro to the strains of Tyga asking…of course…where the “single ladies” were at (creative!)…the drizzle was done, and the chill in the air was breezy and welcoming.

Tyga is not my cup of lean but what the hell, it’s a long weekend. His show was tight. The mood was right. The kid’s a’aight.

More than a’aight was rising star Juice WRLD, whose music questions and answers his own meditations and experiences on hip hop’s dalliances with drugs, death and how it feels to live in the centre of fortune and fame barely out of high school and Chicago’s gang culture. His young audience is clearly touched and moved by his philosophies and talent, and from my perch, hearing him tell his fans they can do anything they can put their mind to, the teacher in me can’t help but want to tell him to listen to himself and get clean. The world needs you in it for a long time, man. Welcome to Montreal. Keep coming back.

I dipped to the second stage after WRLD’s power to take in the seasoned hedonism and wrecking bombast of global pop reggae ambassador Sean Paul, complete with a crackin’ live band and an enthusiastic crowd of thousands — some of whom were probably conceived to his music. Dis generation feels it and knows it. His music is so ubiquitous it’s practically the soundtrack to your office day, but in the flesh, the corny factor is turned down and the heat was all the way on blast.

Back on the main stage, Future arrived. I quipped after his 2016 Osheaga appearance that Future stayed true to his name by getting on stage 25 minutes after his DJ, but Sunday he had our 2s up at 10 p.m., without fault, keeping time and space brimming to the galactic climax fans deserve.

Metro Metro. Say it again. ■

See our review of Metro Metro day one (including Cardi B) here.