Slam! Onyx Lives Up To Hardcore Classics in Toronto [Review]
Toronto, ON - Underground Hip Hop legends, Onyx, performed at the Annex Room in Toronto Sunday night. With songs like “Slam”,”Shut Em Down”, “Throw Ya Gunz” and “React”, they stayed true to the classics that defined hardcore hip hop the era when it was just leaping into the commercial world (circa ’89-’95).
I got an inside-the-dressing-room peak at the raw adrenaline that make the remaining two Onyx members, Sticky Fingerz and Fredro Starr, the rap beasts they are.Onyx, Bishop Brigante, Kwajo Cinqo, Hassasin and crews as well as a number of select females crowded body to body into the dressing-room. Awaiting show-time they were hitting the liquor and posing for photos for Sionead ‘Pink Kiss’ Murray, The 5th/Fred E Fame photographer on behalf of HHC. Onyx blessed us with a freestyle and all focus was on the legendary duo, all heads bobbing simultaneously.
The vibe, however, soon switched up. Between the crowded dressing-room, a delayed show-time and a few alcoholic beverages, an argument arose between Fredro and another man who had insulted him. Fredro and Sticky then argued after the man was asked to leave. It was a brief, intense few minutes as Fredro and Sticky were up in each others grill, yelling, pacing and pounding chests, a few bottles knocked around. “Slam” lyrics “let the boys be boys” came to mind. The guys were just a little anxious to perform but vibe soon spilled out to the main stage.
Onyx was more than ready to unleash some of that intensity on stage, despite a Toronto emcee still on the mic. When the emcee (White Fang) would not give up the mic, one of Onxy’s people ran up and punched the emcee in the head. In all fairness, the White Fang is a seasoned freestyler who was holding his own and literally didn’t know what hit him. With Stick and Fredro still in the dressing-room, people jumped in on both sides, fists flew and the crowd literally had to Bacdafucup, living up to the title of Onyx’s platinum-selling debut album in 1993.
DJ Law, spinning at the time, appropriately proceeded to pack up. “A DJ has to protect his gear”, Law said later.
“We lost our DJ” the host joked, calming the tension in the building. Shortly after security, management and the guys involved calmed down and DJ Law plugged back in. It was time show time.
The hard hits had only just begun. Fredro Starr and Sticky Fingerz exploded on the mic. The crowd rushed to the stage, all hands up. “We don’t give a shit” was repeated back and forth by the duo, feeding off of each other’s energy.
Bishop Brigante, who has toured with Onyx numerous times, says of the brawl and show over all: “There’s good energy, then there are scraps, then you get a drink and keep it moving. It gets crazy, the mosh-pit, the liquor, the women… It gets live. And it was cool to see all kinds of people, older, younger… and girls… know all the words to the Bacdafucup record”.
In full Onyx-fashion Fredro Staff and Stcky Fingerz were mean-muggin’, screw-faced and wild. Bouncing across the stage they were mad, hype and showed a lot of love; offering daps, hugs and pictures. The crowd was as explosive as you can get in Toronto. And twenty-years since they broke out, both rappers still exude a confidence, offering killer stage presence. But it is Sticky Fingerz’s distinct raspy low-register, defined by Stick as “gritty and grimy” that lingers in the ears days later.
- Fredro Starr shouts out his respect to the late Jam Master Jay who put Onyx on in 1989. After sending a demo to Def Jam, the group were signed to the label. The rest is history.
- In an attempt to show love, Sticky Fingerz slams Toronto emcee Mindbender across the stage, when Mindbender jumps-up to join the group during the performance of the song “Slam”. Despite crashing into speakers, Mindbender held his own and bounced back, with Stick pulling Mindbender in for a handshake-to-hug. Mindbender comments: “being full force body-slammed by Sticky-fuckin’-Fingaz into a wall (twice!!) really cemented the memory in my mind as a night I will never forget”.
- Onyx lends their respect to Canadian Old School group Ghetto Concept: “You can’t have Underground Hip Hop without mentioning Ghetto Concept. Ghetto Concept is real Hip Hop”, says Fredro.
- Kwajo Cinqo (Ghetto Concept member) and Bishop Brigante each drop a freestyle on the mic with Onyx serving as hype-men.
- Local opening acts held down the pre-show, doing it big for Canada. Acts included Mo from Montreal and Toronto’s OJ, Hassasin, Nemisis with Baby Grimes (sporting a hot new haircut), and Fresco (backed by DJ James Redi), who were particular hype.
What’s Next for Onyx?
Back to home base Los Angeles and are very much involved in TV and movies. You may remember that Sticky and Fredro appeared in Sunset Blvd, Dead Presidents, Clokers, The Addiction and a number of other films, TV shows and documentaries over the last 15 years. Sticky also wrote, directed and starred in A Day in The Life, the first-ever Hip Hop musical, released in 2009. They three movies in the vault as well as a new Onyx album to be released in 2012. Onyx will continue to tour in Europe in September through to October.
Written by Linykie Nix
Photos by Sionead ‘Pink Kiss’ Murray