The Weeknd, Drake And 2011: How This One Year In Music Was Felt At uTOpia Music Fest 2017

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The third annual uTOpia Music Fest took place on June 1, 2017 at the Mod Club. When I came inside the venue, all I could think about was how years ago, this wasn’t really a thing and how it being at this concert space was so special. I was also thinking about how amazing it was going to be to see Halal Gang perform and Quincy Got Rich perform, but more importantly, how perfectly fitting it was for the Music Fest to be at the Mod Club. Because nearly six years ago, something special happened that really planted the seed for this to happen.

What I’m talking about is that the seeds that really created this feeling of believing in yourself and honing your craft as an artist in Toronto and knowing you can make it from the city really started at this venue in the Summer of 2011. It was at this time when Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd performed his debut show at this place. Now you have to remember that in 2011, the only true hip-hop and rap star that we had in Toronto was Drake. The fact that he was working with Lil Wayne and signed to him was insane, but all of a sudden, it was no longer just Drake and OVO. It was now OVOXO.

And now don’t get me wrong, Toronto has had it’s fair share of artists that have done incredibly well before Drake, there’s an amazing history here, but I was born in 1995, I’m only 22 and It was until Drake came out where I truly felt Toronto was actually being represented. Then this new artist, The Weeknd came out of nowhere, dropped all of these tapes for free, used the internet to propel himself and all of a sudden the city was beaming with joy. And we were beaming because we truly started to feel like we had an identity and we were proud of about it. We were happy to be from Toronto.

It’s this identity and this self belief that being from Toronto means something and it’s amazing to be from here that makes the uTOpia Fest a reality. This idea of coming together, this idea of celebrating one another as artists and as a community was made possible because we saw Drake and The Weeknd come together in 2011. And time and time again over the years they have both proven their love for the city. Now yes, there was this moment in time where things didn’t seem too great between them, but this year things have finally challenged for the better and even with Torey Lanez.

This year, The Weeknd and Drake performed Crew Love together for the first time in years on The Weeknd’s Starboy Tour and surprisingly, Tory Lanez and Drake took a photo together. Toronto truly is coming together and at the uTOpia Fest, one of the artists who performed Drew Howard said it best when he said, “I just want the city to be a family.” And at the show, Toronto really showed itself that it was no longer the screwface capital.

The Music Fest really showed that we were no longer going to hate on our own and finally embrace and support one another and the seeds of this beautiful flower grew in 2011 and at uTOpia Music Fest, it was truly amazing seeing the blossom with amazing performances by Quincy Got Rich who got the place incredible lit as the opening act. His stage presence and his energy was felt by everyone who attended. Then you had the female acts who took over with incredible talent with Kris and Liza.

I missed Pryde coming out and K.Forest did his thing, but I don’t really like these two artists If I’m being honest, but someone who definitely made me laugh with their performance was Ramriddlz, his dancing was hilarious. As the night grew on though, it was clear the crowd really came for Jimmy Prime of Prime Boys with Jay Whiss And Donnie and Smoke Dawg of Halal Gang with Puff L’z and Mo-G. Once these groups hit the stage, the crowd really got into it and both of these groups just drew off of that energy. Halal gang had the place shook with hits like Still and Traphouse and Prime Boys had “I Heard” and “Humana.

At the end of it all though, the real winner here is Toronto. The city is finally becoming a unified place and it may have all started in 2011 with Drake and The Weeknd, but it’s in 2017 that Toronto is truly a musical uTopia now.


From The 6ix,With Love

Thank You For Reading

Sincerely, Kid From The 6ix

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