The Universal Language of Hip Hop Karaoke
Article Kanica Saphan
I’m Asian, and being Asian dictates having durian stink in your fridge, people constantly thinking your family owns a dep but most of all, it means you love karaoke whether or not you sing well.
I’m not exactly a fresh off the boat immigrant, I come from the white ghetto that is La Prairie — the finest of Montreal’s south shore — and I did well integrating with my fellow comrades: French is my first language, I won’t necessarily marry Asian and I grew up listening to Spice Girls.
In other words, I’m a banana — yellow outside but white on the inside.
Now, the closest I ever get to commemorating my culture is singing karaoke on Mac Miller’s ‘’Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza’’ in my car. I can’t label myself as a die-hard hip hop fan; for example I wouldn’t dare wear a Wu Tang shirt because frankly I don’t even think I deserve to, but I do include Beastie Boys, Lupe Fiasco, N*E*R*D, Iggy Azalea, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne (kidding!) among my repertoire. I don’t discriminate and I listen to an array of artists, heck I even like Drake. I just can’t take sides when it comes to the perennial feud between Biggie Smalls vs. Tupac or Jay-Z vs. Nas. I love these four equally.
So going for the first time to Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal (HHKMTL) last thursday at Le Belmont on St. Laurent was a must-do. The cover is 5$ before 11pm and 10$ after, but boy, is it worth it. The evening couldn’t be a flop if TLC’s No Scrubs was playing while I was at the coat check.
Doors open at 10pm but you got to wait a while until D-Shade, the host, goes onstage and introduces a dancing crew that looks like it comes from an 80’s videoclip. Before going to the event, I was anxious to see if the crowd was going to be typical of the hip hop scene and if I was going to look like a total outsider, but that scenario wasn’t the case. Long live the democratization of hip hop music.
For the first performance, a Janelle Monàe doppelgänger along with two guys delivered a funny and fine performance. Loved the choreography and the white guy with a giant clock hanging as a necklace on his chest. Maybe that’s what defines HHKMTL; the karaoke is serious, but the people are still hilarious to look at, even though the smoke machine located right in front of the stage didn’t help my ultra Asian myopia.
The best was yet to come. A chocolate (pronounced with hispanic accent) lady took the stage with her buddy Nick and the DJ started playing “I Know What You Want.” The chocolate lady rapped the Busta Rhymes part while Nick covered the Mariah Carey lyrics. Both were talented, but especially chocolate lady, I loved her flow!
In between the two performances, the spotlight was directed on a horizontally challenged guy dressed as Santa Claus who you could take pictures with. Then, a group of girls went onstage and performed ‘The New Workout Plan” by Kanye West. The rendition was astonishing; all they needed was a set of derby roller skates. But not every person who sang that night necessarily dressed the part (and actually they don’t need to — people liked being surprised). This guy who looked like a normal dude I would see in the subway took the mic and delivered an Eminem song with the same voice as the original rapper. He must’ve been a male version of Véronique Dicaire.
I didn’t stay long because it was way past my bedtime and I was stupid enough to go alone, but I definitely suggest Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal not only to hip hop aficionados, but to anyone with a bunch of friends willing to see ludicrous (no Ludacris didn’t invent this word even though his Instagram hashtags make us think otherwise) and comical performances.
HHKMTL takes place monthly at Le Belmont. Next one is on January 23, 2014. For more info, or if you think you have what it takes, you can sign up on the HHKMTL website.