You usually don’t think “live band” when you think Hip Hop, but Black Milk makes it work. More than work. Undoubtedly one of the hardest working producers and artists in the game, the Detroit-native brought his sound and vision to Toronto on Thursday March 8th.

Host and first opening act was Toronto’s own Diaz, who got the crowd in the mood for what was to come, while J. Pinder hopped off stage and blended with the crowd mid-song, giving us a grunge-rap vibe that was no doubt a nod to his hometown of Seattle. The audience though, was growing restless. They were ready for the man of the hour.

After a short set from tour DJ, the anticipation in the venue rose just before Black Milk’s live band, Nat Turner, made their way to the stage for what the audience knew was about to be a dope show. Bass, Keys and Drums took their positions and for just a moment, you forgot this was a hip hop event. When Black Milk bounced onto stage, the energy finally shifted into gear. Opening with Tronic’s “Try”, the momentum got started early. As the night went on and crowd continued to grow, Black ran through most of the tracks from his 2010 release, aptly titled Album of the Year, including “Black & Brown”, “Distortion” and “Keep Going”. “Gospel Psychedelic Rock” must have touched one very drunk enthusiastic fan, who got on stage not once, but twice during the extended set.

Black Milk’s sound is known for heavy and intricate instrumentation; focused mostly on drums and it’s something that translated perfectly within the live band environment, each element pulsing perfectly through the venue’s speakers and filling the entire spot with the sound that fans expect from the Detroit MC. Black makes it clear that he’s creating an experience with his show, a reflection of the work he puts into his studio releases. Black’s mixture of his resident turntablist with his band members makes for a sound that’s distinctly Motor City.

Circling back to some older work, Black kept it rolling, exclaiming “I know I got some Tronic fans!” before launching into “Bounce” and “Give the Drummer Sum”; complete with a solo from his talented percussionist. Black closed out the show (well, attempted to) with “Losing Out”, proving to inspire to biggest and rowdiest crowd reaction as the bassline dropped. Leaving the stage with a still-hungry crowd, the “encore!” chants filled the venue and eventually brought him back to the stage to perform “Overdose”. After being re-joined on stage by his band members, “Sound The Alarm” would be the show’s real closing, wrapping up the performance in a way only he could.

The best (and most obvious) statement of the night? “I know Toronto has love for Detroit hip hop!”

That we do.

Review by  Sajae E

Footage courtesy of DistrictRev

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