Manifesto 11 Recap23 June 2017 / by Nicole Di Donato (author), Zahraa Hmood (author)
Manifesto 11 returned June 8 to 11 with a tight lineup featuring local hip-hop and R&B acts as well as surprise performances by some of Toronto’s most loved artists.
The festival had a great community vibe, bringing together attendees of diverse backgrounds and artists of various genres - from hip-hop and rap to R&B, soul and rock.
Toronto R&B duo Majid Jordan headlined the event and brought out some special guests, getting the crowd hyped. Manifesto also featured U.S. artists Jidenna, Isaiah Rashad and The Internet. Local artists such as The Sorority, Derin Falana, TiKA and Sean Leon performed at the festival.
Everyone who came out to Manifesto were there solely for the music and to show support for the local artists who hit the stage. Dedicated fans brought the energy up at the front of the stage, however, the venue was not filled to capacity.
With only one stage, Manifesto felt much like a concert as opposed to a large-scale festival. This was an interesting vibe as it made each performance feel more personal and intimate, allowing festival-goers to connect to the music on a deeper level.
Food trucks were on-site for attendees who wanted to grab a bite before or during the show. However, most people waited at the Echo Beach stage for the full eight hours to save a spot close to the front.
Opening the show was Toronto rap collective, The Sorority. Comprised of Phoenix Pagliacci, Lex Leosis, Haviah Mighty and Keysha Freshh, the group lives and breathes female empowerment, which was evident at their show. Each girl had their own style, delivery and energy, making it exciting for attendees. Each group member was openly supportive of one another, hyping each other up and calling on each other. Good sense of humour from Phoenix who said, “I wish I wore pearls so I could clutch them” at the audience’s high energy so early in the day.
Next to touch the stage was up-and-coming rapper, Derin Falana. The Brampton native already had a handful of folks in the audience hyped (and a few even swooning) for his appearance. He gave good energy for the short amount of time he had on the stage.
Matthew Progress hit the stage all about finesse and lyricism: he delivered a few lines of intense poetry before jumping into his club banger hits, with Nino Brown DJ’ing. Alternating from hip-hop/trap to classic house and techno beats with his sleeper hit “Le Fog,” the crowd couldn’t deny the sheer danceability of his tunes, and were down to party.
Slowing things down and bringing out the emotions was Toronto singer-songwriter, TiKA. Simply put, it was a damn good show. She set herself apart from the acts preceding her with a live set, complete with instrumentalists and backup vocalists. Donned in a bright yellow dress and all smiles for her loudest supporters in the audience, TiKA delivered a handful of her greatest tunes with artistry. The set included tracks like “Life Without You,” given in a poignant five-minute performance, and “All Day All Night,” a song for the times we’re living in right now, according to TiKA. Her vocals were clear and sonically hypnotizing, and her style and expression always passionate. Her show allowed attendees to connect to the music and lyrics on a deeper level than the previous acts. Definitely worth seeing on her own live.
Transitioning from soul to rap, Sean Leon was next to perform for the Manifesto crowd. The boy from the East End brought rockstar attitude, commanding the stage with energy and originality. Still an independent artist - as he reminded the crowd that day - he managed to have people singing and rapping along to his tunes like “Deep End (Off The).” To end off his set, Sean Leon gave a big thanks to his crew and big love for his Day 1s. Watching the Toronto rapper felt like a big name was being born right before our eyes.
One of the highly anticipated acts of the night was American rapper and singer-songwriter, Jidenna. He came through checking all the boxes: swagger, style, sex appeal, lyricism, poetry, artistry and a great live band. With high energy, a big smile and sweet dance moves, Jidenna made the show his own, performing songs off his album The Chief as well as his well-known single “Classic Man.” Jidenna is first and foremost, a storyteller - he talked in between each song, imparting philosophies of success on the audience, as given to him by his father, a Nigerian chief (complete with a humorous impression of the man himself). People - especially women - of all ages were cheering, screaming and singing along to the artist’s songs. Not only did Jidenna bring the fire to the stage, but his band also brought the show to a new level. For Jidenna’s upbeat songs like “Little Bit More,” the band joined him and performed some choreographed dance moves. Jidenna is someone you must see live at least once in your life.
Next to perform was Southern U.S. rapper Isaiah Rashad. This was one of the most chill performances of the day, bringing the audience down from the hysterics of Jidenna, inviting them to relax and take it all in. Rashad’s chill yet passionate vibes enabled the crowd to pay close attention to his lyricism and great delivery. There were some moments throughout his performance where he cracked a smile and opened up to the audience, shedding off his otherwise serious persona. Festival-goers seemed to know his songs and cheered for his big tracks like “Free Lunch.” For such a large festival, the caliber of which he admitted on stage he hadn’t performed at “in a minute,” the rapper managed to keep the energy consistent for the crowd and maintain the hype.
Hailing from sunny California, The Internet brought a super fun energy to the stage. They played a bunch of tracks from their album Ego Death and also took the time to perform tracks from Syd, Steve Lacy and Matt Martians’ solo projects. It was refreshing to see the band so supportive of each other’s solo work. The Internet played over what Syd called “a beautiful sunset,” remarking that the weather was even better in Toronto than it was back home. The highlight of their set was when Syd got the audience to yell the “You. F**ked. Up.” part of their track “Just Sayin/I Tried.” She encouraged the crowd to get louder “so [her] ex can hear it all the way from Los Angeles.” The band had a great dynamic, cracking of that occasional Odd Future-esque humour and delivering great instrumentation and vocals. It was an unforgettable set, and got the crowd even more hype for the headliners.
Finally, Majid Jordan - the act most people were anxiously waiting for all day. Both Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman caused a roar of cheers to erupt from the crowd. Watching the Toronto duo flourish in such a short amount of time as artists in their own has been very rewarding. And their Manifesto performance felt like a culmination of that success.
Effortlessly cool, doused in beautiful stage lighting, and bringing amazing energy, they had the crowd dancing and singing along to every single one of their tracks. Ever humble about and grateful for the duo’s success, Majid commanded the stage with sensuality and forged a deep connection with the audience. Jordan’s DJ work was consistent and exciting all throughout the set, and though they didn’t interact much, the partnership between the two was elemental to what made this a good show. The duo performed their new single “Phases” and played songs off their last album and two EPs. By the final song, “King City,” as Majid sang and waved goodbye to the crowd, there was a collective sadness in the air, as everyone was sorry to see them go.
Aside from putting on an amazing performance, Majid Jordan also brought out their fellow OVO Sound artists Roy Wood$ and dvsn. Due to the sheer shock of Roy Wood$’ appearance, his performance left everyone in hysterics. That’s not all of course. Roy Wood$ has established himself as a unique singer and performer from Toronto, bringing beautiful vocals, fun dance moves and a great attitude. The crowd laughed as the artist pulled out a Japanese fan to cool off. He performed “Gwan Big Up Urself” and “Drama.” With only two songs, the crowd was elated. Dvsn also brought the heat, rightfully described by Majid as “the master of soul,” performing a brand new track and his hit tune “Hallucinations,” which had everyone in the audience singing along.
Manifesto 11 was a success, bringing together hip-hop heads and artists alike. This year Manifesto is expanding their program to sustain a year-round presence as a locally-minded platform for music, art and dance. This show was just a taste of what’s to come from Manifesto in the next few months.
To see photos from the event, take a look at the gallery to the right →