Demar's 5 to Watch at NXNE08 June 2019 / by Demar J. Grant (author)
It's officially festival season. From June 7th to 16th NXNE is hosting it's 25th annual music and gaming festival in downtown Toronto. Although NXNE isn't as high profile as Rolling Loud or Coachella it's an opportunity to catch artists right before they explode or just as they're peaking while in the mix with legacy acts. Ultimately it makes for festival lineups that can look nuts in retrospect.
2018 had Jazz Cartier, Big Freeda, Lights, and Azealia Banks. Post Malone and Tyler, The Creator headlined in 2017 while 2016 featured ScHoolboy Q, Daniel Caesar, Ghostface Killah, Father John Misty, and Mick Jenkins. 2015 was met with Action Bronson, Rae Sremmurd, Ty Dolla $ign and Vince Staples, and 2014 was highlighted by St. Vincent, Swans, Danny Brown, Mac Demarco, A$AP Ferg and Run the Jewels.
There are a plethora of musical acts to watch in Festival Village and Club Land this year but there is a handful that are can't-miss. This is the chance to see everyone's favourite artist or band before everyone knows who they are.
There was a time "You for You" was just one of those tracks that your Spotify playlist just shuffled into. There was also a time where nobody knew what Anders even looked like. Now he's doing interviews with Noisey, collaborating with Loud Luxury and pushing two EPs that absolutely slap, 669 and Twos. Anders ability to blend R&B, pop, and trap has lead him to amass a global fanbase with a sound that could only originate in his hometown, Toronto. Anders' slow songs paint him as lovesick crooner but tracks like "Bad Guy" reveal a bravado teetering on arrogance that is both undeniable and alluring.
Watch his set at: Festival Village Main Stage, Sunday (June 16), 8 pm.
It's been a year since I've first heard those tormented keys on "Killamanjaro" and they still play in my mind. Although firmly a melodic trap artist Killy has been able to carve out a very distinct space in Toronto's hip-hop scene. Whether it be his voice, the anime album covers, Pokemon ice around his neck or box braids dangling from his head Killy is absolutely captivating. Surrender Your Soul has been out over a full year and it still resonates today. The production, celestial and spacious, grants the floor Killy ad-libbing and mumble rapping to his heart's content while still maintaining it's hype. There's a big room spark to most of his songs which has intros leading to drops, making for excellent concert fuel. Killy also keeps saying new music is coming soon and he has a project completed, ready for release. This could be a chance to hear some unreleased songs.
Watch his set at: Festival Village Main Stage, Sunday (June 16), 9:15 pm.
It's a surprise more duo's like Toronto's 88Glam haven't been popping up recently. With the prominence of autotune, singing and rapping there have been more ways than ever to deliver a verse. By combining trap beats, wandering synths and R&B melodies Derek Wise and 88 Camino have engineered a unique hybridized sound. The duo were actually solo acts before coming together and dropping their debut self-titled project under the XO label. Every track features Wise and 88 Camino bouncing off each other in novel ways to churn out dark bangers while steady flexin' designer clothes and infinite drip on anyone within earshot.
Watch their set at: Festival Village Main Stage, Saturday (June 15), 8 pm.
With a name like Haviah Mighty you'd think Mighty was destined to become a rapper, and she sounds like it too. Growing up in Brampton, Mighty was singing as a child, rapping before she was a teenager and producing by high school. With rapid-fire flow and oppressively aggressive disposition, this member of The Sorority demands listeners respect because those are only a few arrows in her quiver. Mighty has a penchant for singing and although her sound is very trappy her latest album 13th Floor has meant a dalliance into reggaeton. She's a dope emcee with undeniable talent and respect as she's already opened for Snoop Dogg, Sheck Wes, and Nelly.
Watch her set at: 3365 Dundas West, Saturday (June 8), 6 pm | The Hideout (423 College), Sunday (June 9) midnight | Festival Village Queen Street Stage, Saturday (June 15), 6:30 pm.
I'm gonna say this one time and one time only, do not bring your parents or children to this show or else you're gonna have some serious explaining to do. Cupcakke is probably the dirtiest dirty rapper to grip the mic. Dirty rap is predominantly a southern hip hop flavour but CupcaKKe is based in Chicago and ironically only started rapping after someone at her church told her to turn her poetry into raps. I wonder how that person feels today considering CupcaKKe's lyrics are dirty enough to make a brothel blush and a nunnery weep. CupcaKKe's absurdly explicit lyrics are so enthralling that she consistently has you wondering what she'll say next.
Watch her set at: The Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne), Friday (June 14), 7 pm.