Wasiu Hip Hop You Don't Stop


The Hip Hop You Don’t Stop festival brings back live park jams with tacos

The 2021 edition features dance battles, graffiti, live music and tacos, with online beat-making seminars and panels, too.

Montreal’s annual Hip Hop You Don’t Stop festival stayed true to its name in 2020, with an online version late last autumn that kept the spirit alive despite the darkness of the times. 

This year, HHYDS is at least partially back outside for a hybridized 17th edition. Online beat-making seminars and panel discussions are fused with a return to live park jams, dance battles, graffiti and live music, already underway.

“From what I learned putting together content for last year remotely from the U.S., the possibilities are endless in terms of online content, especially with what’s possible from the comfort of an artist’s remote location,” explained Mags, one half of Montreal hip hop duo Strange Froots, and programming director for the festival. 

“Learning to create low-scaled programming makes padding (this year) with live events even more exciting.”

“Furthermore, in our search for online and remote talent, it broadened our social and artistic networks and allowed us to discover more people in our community who could later show up in real life,” she added.

Hip Hop festival Montreal
A dance battle at the Hip Hop You Don’t Stop festival 2020

While indoor karaoke is still verboten in the province, Hip Hop Karaoke makes its comeback tonight (Friday, Sept. 17) at Girouard Park at 7 p.m., where Shash’U holds it down on the decks for the Fallen Legends Edition.

And in what is perhaps the most exciting prospect of this year’s programming, HHYDS welcomes the return of another symbol of cultural unity: the taco. 

The always popular, family-friendly Elementakiza  returns to NDG Park on Sunday afternoon. Live sets from Wasiu, Sabrina Sabotage, Jeune Rebeu and J $hrier, will be served up with painting, popping, locking, a kids corner and the main course, traditional Mexican-Indigenous tacos by Chef Maurin.

Readers know that Cult MTL loves tacos and music in equal measure, so we asked performers to tell us about some of their own personal taco affections. Here’s what they had to say.

Sabrina Sabotage:  My favourite taco is a Baja fish taco. When I eat one now, it makes me think of the first one I ever had, in Acapulco. It was actually the first time I’d had the fresh corn tortilla, too — it didn’t taste like the Americanized versions I knew. So every time I land a really good one, it’s like taking a trip back to Mexico.

Vince (Urban Science Brass Band): In 2013, I was on tour with Nomadic Massive in Los Angeles.  We had just finished a show and were looking for something to do.  A friend of the band, an L.A. native, was offering suggestions.  “There’s a couple of options…  So-and-so is DJing at Club XYZ…  There’s this-and-that and the-other-thing…  Oh yeah and also there’s dollar tacos under a bridge…”


So we went there, and indeed, there were dollar tacos, and indeed, they were under a bridge.  They were some damn fine, delicious tacos.

I’m glad Montreal has finally joined the rest of the world in making food trucks possible.  But there is much more to food trucks than hipster foodie over-priced gourmet garbage.  You won’t find dollar tacos here.  But you will find someone (posting) their lobster foie gras poutine.

Montreal hip hop festival
Strange Froots at Tacos Tijuana. Photo by Gowlene

Mags: Let me set the proper scene for you. As some of your readers may or may not know, I was on a very long, arduous immigration journey between 2017 and this past March, having been unceremoniously turned away at the Canada-U.S. border in March 2018 while working on becoming a Canadian Permanent Resident (spoiler alert: I did it!).

In all my time away from my chosen home, I did my best to stay active in the MTL scene from my birth home of Silver Spring, MD, and occasionally hopped on some very tight flights for the odd gig.

Picture it: after many years of radio silence from the government, a short burst of hope in early 2020 (was) dashed by the pandemic. But I finally got my Confirmation of Permanent Residence. My mom drove us from DC to Montreal. 

We finally made it on a Wednesday, (and went) to Popolo Pensione where I’d be spending my quarantine. In the five minutes we’re parked, I already ran into three people I knew — that’s Plateau life, I guess.

News of my arrival spread and before you know it I’m getting care packages delivered left, right and centre. One of those deliveries was from my Loop Sessions compadre (and very dear friend) shmings. It was the end of my first week in quarantine and I had already hit the ground running in terms of remote work, so I think this is where (his) matronly habit of checking on my dinner status began.

It was Taco Tuesday, after all, and my first as a PR, and shmings didn’t want me to miss out on the occasion. So not only did he recommend his favourite taco joint, Tacos Tin Tan on St-Denis, the man ordered me some. If that isn’t real friendship, I’m not sure what to tell you! 

In the midst of what would be a hectic week of new job training and government incompetence (my quarantine got extended by a third week) I was reminded of the importance of community, doubly so during a pandemic. And some of the best friends I’ve ever made were through the music scene in Montreal. So I’m glad to be back in town, and to be back for Elementakiza!

Jeune Rebeu hip hop festival Montreal
Jeuen Rebeu. Photo by Thomas Alem-lebel

J $hrier: To this day my favourite taco I have ever tried is from Taco Bell. This may sound extremely uncultured, but you can’t even lie, they’re killing the game. The Doritos Locos taco and Crunchwrap Supreme are my favourite tacos to this day. 

The Doritos Locos is a regular beef taco, with lettuce, cheese and sour cream, with a Doritos — either original or cool ranch — taco shell. The Crunchwrap Supreme is on its own planet, consisting of seasoned ground beef, nacho cheese and sour cream all wrapped inside a flour tortilla. The secret ingredient is a corn tortilla hidden inside that gives us the crunch that we all love.

For the Doritos taco I recommend having at least two (one of each flavour) to get the true experience behind a meal at Taco Bell. As for the Crunchwrap Supreme, one should fill you up, two if you’re high.

Wasiu: First time I had a real taco was at Tacos Tijuana in DG. Ever since then, I’ve never set foot in a Taco Bell again.

Jeune Rebeu: J’ai mangé une seule fois du taco dans ma vie et c’était dans un voyage aux States à Washington DC. J’en re-mangerais bien! ■

For more on Hip Hop You Don’t Stop, which continues through Sept. 21, please visit the festival’s website. Elementakiza takes place at NDG Park (3500 Girouard) on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2 p.m.