199Z Fest: A Scrapbook

On August 16th 2017, fans from across the city congregated in Adelaide Hall for the first-ever 199Z Fest. Masterminded by Toronto creative collective 199Z, the showcase highlighted the talents of 13 local artists, all of whom are ascending the ranks of Toronto’s music scene. Between bouts of colorful commentary by Marlon Palmer (ThatDudeMCFLY), audience members had the opportunity to witness the early stages of artists on the rise. Every performance was well-prepared and energetic, and the artistry shined through. 199Z Fest was just further reassurance that Toronto is — and will continue to be — a creative powerhouse. Join us in reminiscing on the night with our scrapbook. Thanks again to the 199Z for having us. Photos by Ziyaad Haniff.

A big thank you to all the performers (in order of appearance): Gyles, Elcee The Artist, Savadouchi, Aiza, Ikeno, Sayzee, Seth Dyer, Liza, Mobi Mawla, Ebhoni, Keffaleng, Mickey Blue, and Derin Falana. Support your local artists and give them a listen!

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A little bit of rap. A little bit of dance. A little bit of R&B. What’s most enjoyable about the music of @elceetheartist is that it never really settles into one of those genres. Rather, there’s a fluidity to his songs that imply continual exploration; for what makes them unique, for what makes them different, and subsequently, for any opportunity to build sonic bridges between them. Infused with a metric playfulness that wouldn’t feel out of place in an underground cypher, Elcee’s set saw him embody the stylistic diversity of 199Z’s line-up as a whole, and preview the sounds of a hybrid future. 📷: @teamziyaad × × × #Toronto #Music #BeMoreCareful #199ZFest #ElceeTheArtist

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“If you don’t like this song, I don’t like your taste,” @iamikeno told the crowd before launching into a performance of the delightfully synth-driven Maple Surrp Freestyle. Halfway through, he again expressed his adoration for the summer jam and asked for it to be restarted. Anytime an artist expresses that kind of love for his or her own creation, there’s an inclination to throw around labels like “conceited.” But to suggest that Ikeno’s passion was rooted in self-aggrandizement would be dishonest. After all, if you thought your music had the power to spread positive vibes and foster togetherness, why wouldn’t you make it known? 📷: @teamziyaad × × × #Toronto #Music #BeMoreCareful #199ZFest #199Z #Ikeno

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Mobi Mawla is a veteran of the stage. Expecting the breakneck speed of a 13-act festival, the rapper was already in performance mode when he rushed on stage. Mobi understands that first impressions are important. With not a moment wasted, Mawla engaged the audience with his signature wordplay and melodic flows. When he wanted to create an intimate setting, a subtle move like taking off his glasses immersed us with eye contact. Like his song What You Need, Mobi was sure to express his gratitude whenever he could. Regardless of his performance experience, the young artist shows his appreciation for the fortunate circumstances that allow him to perform his craft in front of fans. @mobimawla. 📷: @teamziyaad × × × #Toronto #Music #BeMoreCareful #Mobi #MobiMawla #199ZFest

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Ebhoni’s performances are exercises in gestalt theory: the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Three performers took to the stage during her set. Accompanied by her friends, Ebhoni strutted across the stage, showing off her vocal range with confidence and poise. The performers complimented one another, allowing the others time to shine in the spotlight. Serving as a conductor, Ebhoni pointed our attention towards her friends’ solos. This exemplified Ebhoni’s maturity as an artist. Her name was on the poster, but her friends were just as crucial to her set as she was. Ebhoni used the platform given to her to showcase her friends’ talents in addition to her own. The set was more than a singer and two dancers; it was a group of friends celebrating their commitment and hard work together.@ebhoniogarro. 📷: @teamziyaad × × × #Toronto #Music#BeMoreCareful #Ebhoni

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@keffaleng reminds me of when you were in high school, and you find out your friend can rap, and you turn it into a mini concert with your squad. Keffaleng instilled that same amount of excitement and fun in the audience. Except, Keffaleng raps better than your friend. The artist appeared to be having the time of his life on stage. His enthusiasm for performing was apparent, making the audience that much more committed to showing love. Keffaleng moved across the stage the same way he rhythmically navigates the lyrics of his songs. The kinetic performance was one that fed an energetic loop between Keffaleng and the fans. We reciprocated each other’s love, resulting in a lively, welcoming environment. 📷: @teamziyaad × × × #Toronto #Music #BeMoreCareful #Keffaleng

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Mickey Blue began his set with a skit, sharing a phone call on stage. That was when I knew his performance would be communicative; he had something to say. His powerful voice matched his body language, and yet they both conflicted with the vulnerability of his lyrics. The person who stood before us was a man who had come to terms with the truths engrained in his songs. And when Mickey wasn’t vocalizing his thoughts on love, he was sharing others’ sentiments. Mickey used the sincerity of his vocals to put a spin on J Cole’s In The Morning and Sean Paul’s Like Glue. He ended the performance with a reminder to the audience: be good people. Blue noted the effects of small, kind gestures. In these tumultuous times we’re living in, Mickey’s words are needed more than ever. @buckslenderly @the199z × Expect more #199ZFest content coming soon! × × × #Toronto #Music #BeMoreCareful #MickeyBlue

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@derinfalana wears his heart on his sleeve. For his headlining performance at #199ZFEST, he wasn’t afraid to show us every facet of his character. As a personable artist, Derin encouraged audience participation; and they happily obliged. When they weren’t chanting lyrics to his songs, they attentively listened to the stories behind the music. And at a particularly energetic moment, a group joined Falana on stage to turn up. A natural performer, Falana seamlessly ushered the audience through these different segments of his set, concluding with a quick freestyle dance. I imagine Derin’s mind is always racing with ideas of what will bring out the best show. From the performance to the music, and everything in between, I don’t have a doubt in my mind that Derin Falana gave his all. 📷: @teamziyaad × Keep an eye out for more 199Z Fest stories this week! × × × #Toronto #Music#BeMoreCareful #DerinFalana #199Z

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Were you at the show? What did you think of the performances? What were your favourite moments? Respond to our tweet below to get the conversation started:

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