Mad for Knock Madness: Hopsin goes hard in Edmonton [Review]
Edmonton, AB – It’s been a busy year for Los Angeles native, Hopsin. His third studio album, Knock Madness, was released in November 2013 and Hopsin wasted no time kicking off the Knock Madness Tour; starting with the U.S. leg in January and making his way to Canada in May. Hopsin made his return to Edmonton at the Union Hall on May 9 (brought to us by the good people at Nighthshift Entertainment). Of course HipHopCanada was on the scene for this one.
The first time Hopsin performed in Edmonton was in March 2011 at Flow Lounge. It was a small show, as he was just coming up and out of the underground scene. But the all-buzz around him was still there (after all, he did make the honourary XXL Freshman Class the following year). This time around – however – was a whole other ball game.
The doors at Union Hall opened at 9 p.m. and the lineup of eager fans lapped around the building. As the crowd of (mostly) young 20-somethings filed into the venue, I noticed a common trend of Hopsin-related gear: tees, hoodies, hats, as well as some fans even sporting the Hopsin’s trademark white contacts. That’s dedication.
Edmonton-based DJ Grizz partnered up with local MC, Dizzy, to host the event. The duo did a stellar job keeping the crowd hyped throughout the night, banging out club hits from the early 2000s to present. The local openers were no different. Cursive, Gutta, Sonik, Doom Squad, Mitch Lawler & Conch, and Brothers Grim all graced the stage with massive performances. It’s clear that the presence of hip-hop in YEG ain’t no joke as fans were so engaged, and even rapped along to their favourite local tracks. Solid ‘A’ for the locals.
Shortly after midnight, Funk Volume’s DJ Hoppa hit the stage swinging to a now-packed Union Hall. The crowd was already turned up enough as it was, but Hoppa’s 10-to-15 minute set just added fuel to the fire. Hoppa knew exactly what he was doing and he does it well; not only on the turn tables, but on the mic as well. He hyped the crowd up with the best of ‘em.
Hopsin jumped in with DJ Hoppa with no formal introduction (like he needs one, though) and the night officially popped off. However – about 10 minutes into the set – became the venue’s sound man’s worst nightmare. Though Hopsin’s performance started out strong, you couldn’t help but hear that awful feedback coming from the mic. It made it hard to make out a single word being said. “What the f***, sound man?” DJ Hoppa bellowed into the mic as he stopped the music. Rightfully so, for that matter. The sound was just fine for every single one of the opening acts. How are you gonna play the headliner like that? Seriously, though.
“Get this shit right before the show,” Hopsin said. “I’m not an asshole, I swear. But I can’t hear a f*cking thing I’m listening to. I can’t even hear a beat.” Out came the boos from the crowd. Obviously not towards Hopsin. But for the predicament he was in -which was no fault of his in any way. “Sorry guys, this is embarrassing…for his ass,” said Hopsin as he pointed at the sound booth. That moment was comic relief as everyone erupted with laughter….everyone but the sound man.
Eventually things got back on track. And from then on, it was nothing but intense energy. Hopsin delivered in such a way I have never seen at a rap show. I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve seen an audience so turned up to the point of forming a mosh pit. At a rap show. There were so many highlights from the evening, but the one that stood out in a big way was during “Trampoline” (from the RAW album) where Hopsin not only crowd-surfed, but actually stood on the hands of the crowd. Everyone went bananas and security watched in horror. While a stunt like that seems a little crazy, to me it just solidifies Hopsin’s connection with his fans. He had enough trust in the fans to know they’d carry him safely as he literally walked on top of them. That’s a mutual love. And I respect that to the third degree.
Hopsin’s stage presence was like a party that everyone was dying to get into. And luckily, there were several that did. Cue: “How You Like Me Now.” Hopsin brought concert attendee, Brian, on to the stage. Brian was so excited (and star-struck) that he was vibrating (adorable – I can’t lie). Hop hands the mic to Brian and gives him instruction to rap a verse from the song…while crowd surfing.
Cue: “Give Me That Money.” Five lucky girls and two dudes were chosen from the crowd with the only task of wildin’ out on stage while Hop murdered the track. How cool is that? And that wasn’t all – the lucky group copped in a few stage dives and (of course) a group selfie. And that was long after the song was over.
Cue: The Cypher. When yet again three attendees were chosen from the crowd to join Hop onstage. But this was on another level. Not just anyone could join, this time they had to be able to rap. Each one got the opportunity to freestyle a verse, with DJ Hoppa backing the beat, and they killed it!
What I love so much about Hopsin is that he’s is not one to let success to get to his head. He allows his fans (who adore him) to come into his world. That just isn’t something you see often in the rap game. While performing titans like “Hop is Back” and the “Ill Mind of Hopsin 5,” you couldn’t help but get chills. Hop came hard and that’s all there is to it. After the Knock Madness Tour wraps up, Hopsin plans to take a hiatus from touring to focus more on his music. So those who got a dose of last night, experienced one for the books.
P.S. (And this is an inside joke from myself and all those attended) Hop – we’re happy you got your favourite red hat back.
Photography by Andrew Lynn