This year’s 2015 RBC Ottawa Bluesfest kept the momentum going from Kanye’s performance, by bringing forward a jammed packed day of incredible acts including Ottawa’s own Eddie Quotez and G.Grand, legendary Hip Hop artist NAS and headlining the night on the Bell stage Iggy Azalea.
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At 3pm Eddie Quotez stepped on the Bell stage and gave us a dynamic performance. His unique style and animated performance quickly captivated the audience. His songs gave light to his inner struggle from his personal life and as an artist. His set left us to experience and share in every triumph of his journey. You can tell he has a passion for this and takes his craft seriously yet can have fun on stage and put on it on for the city. One of the highlights of his act involved a passionate and intimate spoken word piece which depicted the overcoming of depression and suffering from child abuse. The audience was also caught in a tear-jerker moment as his mother yelled out to him from the audience “I love you son”. His mom indubitably proud and Ottawa was without a doubt thrilled to have one of their own showcased on the big stage.
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Shortly after 4pm festival go-ers were loured across the grounds towards the Claridge stage by the spinning talents of none other than one of Canada’s best DJs (DJ2Creamz). His ability to get the crowd hyped set the tone for a powerful performance by G.Grand. G.Grand is a natural performer with killer lyrical ability and a charismatic personality which is easily seen throughout his performance. He performed several tracks from his album Grand Designs including “Sparkle” before bringing Hyf Gypsy Sun, another Ottawa favorite onto the stage, to perform well received tracks such as “Get It How You Live It”. They had the crowd fully engaged down to the last track “illest on the M.I.” DJ2Creamz even busted out some of his dancing skills. At the end of the set producer and collaborator, for many of G.Grands’ tracks, Jeepz was called on stage to complete their team. This combination of artists is proof that Ottawa has a strong Hip Hop scene.
As the evening wound down and the weather finally cooled a bit, fans of all ages began to gather waiting as one of the legends of Hip Hop, and fans all-time favorites “NAS” was to grace the Claridge stage at 8PM. He appeared on stage promptly, as screaming fans called out for him “Nasty”, and delivered an enthusiastic set. He ran through a range of titles from his body of musical work including well known tracks “Nastradamas” and Grammy award nominated track for Best Rap Solo Performance “If I Ruled The World” (ft. Lauryn Hill). He was sure to pay homage to the late Michael Jackson and thanked him for letting him sample off of his “Human Nature” track before executing “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” from his album illmatic. Humbled by the show of gratitude from the fans, he thanked everyone on numerous occasions and continued to give us a first-class performance that brought back the essence of hip hop. This was definitely one of the best Hip Hop performances and highlights of Bluesfest 2015.
As 9PM rolled around, a young hipster type crowd surrounded the Bell stage to see headliner Iggy Azalea. After rumors that she would not be attending Bluesfest due to the announcement of the cancellation of her North American tour, fans were sure to show support when it was confirmed that she would be present. The crowd was excited with anticipation. You could see groups of people dancing to all the songs, only to stop momentarily to sing along to the chorus or hit songs such as “Black Widow” or “Fancy”. Unfortunately, the energy from the crowd did not transmit through to Iggy, who seemed tired for the latter half of her set. Despite that, she provided fans with a good show.
Overall, Day 4 coverage of Bluesfest was definitely a success for Hip hop heads and music enthusiasts.
As Day 5 rolled in, Ottawa’s very own Flight Distance returned to Bluesfest, after their last performance in 2012, bigger and better than ever performing on the Monster Stage, giving their friends and fans that authentic Ottawa hip-hop vibe. The Rap duo, Bender and Patience, performed crowd pleasers such as ,“Walther PPK” and “A-Alike B-Alike” off of their 2014 album High Priests of Low-Life. Not only did they bring their A-game, they also brought their fans special featured guest performers, Buck N’ Nice , Zee-Bot and Whitney Delion.
Whitney Delion had a stand out performance, her bluesy, soulful almost hypnotic voice filled the vast space in front of the stage, reaching over the hills drawing in even more concert goers. Her solo added an unexpected dimension to the set without taking from the overall hype and energy of the show.
The crowd was more than amped to be there to support Flight Distance, bobbing their heads with the beat, getting lost in the rhymes and waving their hands in the air. Despite the cooler temperatures Flight Distance fans came out in full effect. The duo went hard for the crowd, delivering precise rhymes and hard hitting punch lines. The set was hype from start to finish and these “High Priests” really brought life to the stage. Just another reason why Hip Hop is a alive and well in our Nation’s Capital.
The highly anticipated, Run The Jewels Bluesfest performance, went down yesterday night, July 15th on the Monster stage. The American duo is formed of El-P, a rapper/producer from New York , and the one and only Killer Mike from Hot-lanta. These two have formed, Run the Jewels , and between the two they share some die-hard fans. The temperature was pretty cool , as low as 10 degrees at one point, but it felt more like 30 degrees in the crowd. Concert goers were shoulder to shoulder, inching in as close as they could to the front of the stage, just to get a bit of that magic. Fans could not get enough, the energy was at an all time high, with fans crowd surfing and moshing at any given moment. They played several songs from their albums Run the Jewels and Run the Jewels 2, like my personal favorite “Blockbuster Night Part 1”.
These two have really tapped into something special, respecting the roots of “Old School” rap while diving into elements of the “New School”. As far as topics go nothing is off the shelf for RTJ, they touch upon really pertinent social matters that many are afraid to address. Killer Mike adds his street-preacher booming vocals alongside El-P’s chaotic almost manic lyricism. With such hard hitting, booming base-filled beats, their vocals and message come through so clear. They offer this sort of relentless hard-hitting hip hop that has been missing from the game.
As RTJ took their exit from the stage, the crowd was not pleased and demanded an encore. Fans relate and are inspired by their commitment to breaking boundaries, trailblazing and setting their own rules of engagement. In true Run the Jewels fashion they returned to the stage with an epic encore for their fans despite Bluesfest tight parameters, demanding the crowd chant, “ RTJ, RTJ, RTJ…..” A moment that fans a-like will remember for years to come. Both El-P and Killer Mike have played the Bluesfest in the past, however hands down this was their best performance to date.
Written by: @TuneIntoMoj @Spick_chick81
Photos by: Emily Plunkett, Jesse Plunkett & Ottawa Bluesfest
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