No matter how you cut the beat, the root of hip hop remains driven to delivering political change and social awareness. The Toronto hip-hop scene is getting a much-needed push from veteran Cherry Bomb duo Denise Benson and Cozmic Cat. Shell Toe Live makes its debut at Revival on April 3 and promises to be a multi-faceted urban extravaganza.
This has been a long time in the making for Cherry Bomb.
“Shell Toe Live is the kind of event we’ve been building towards this entire time. It feels really important to us to showcase queer and queer-friendly performers who are talented, energetic and socially-politically outspoken.”
Benson says this party presents an opportunity for the regular Cherry Bomb-goer to have fun and also get informed about contemporary politics and the need for healthy change.
Cherry Bomb has been welcomed by queer women and friends at Andy Poolhall since the summer of 2007 and since then has held tight to its mandate to provide a regular event where queers can “sweat, dance, cruise.”
“It’s simple,” Cozmic says of Cherry Bomb’s recipe for success. “Go in there, throw a fun, sexy, inclusive party with fresh music and a great vibe every month. Lather, rinse, repeat!”
It seems that three-word taglines are lucky charms for these partners in crime.
Obviously, if there is going to be a throw-down of a real hip-hop jam, an essential component is getting out some rhymers to pick up the mic. The ladies with red bombs have programmed 3 diverse and dope female emcees to launch this event — Benni E, Invincible and Toronto-based Chilean, La Bomba.
Philadelphia’s Benni E released her first album, Microphone Influenza, in 2008 and since then has been gaining stride and using her voice to enlighten.
“This world needs serious systemic change and giving back to save us as a people is what we are supposed to do as humans.”
“I started rhyming when I was nine years old. This was only two years since I moved back to the US after living in occupied Palestine for six years.” The tale of Detroit’s Invincible attracted Cherry Bomb to invite her to be part of Shell Toe Live. When Benson heard Invincible’s track “Sledgehammer,” she was fascinated and immediately wanted to work with her.
Starting in the 80s as a bass player in various girl-power punk bands, La Bomba adds some sultry bilingual flavour to the mix. It makes good sense that La Bomba is performing at this historical event, as she is renowned as a Latin American hip-hop leader in Canada.
Being a queer hip-hop artist can be challenging because of the traditionally rooted attitude of homophobia that exists in the community — Shell Toe Live hopes to push this out of mind and sight through its lineup of talented performers.
Benni E finds that queer identity gives her freedom to be herself in her music. Invincible agrees: “Queerness is about way more than sexuality to me. It’s about not being afraid to live on the margins, to take risks and to think outside the box.”
Hip-hop loving queers are not often given a safe space to bop their heads and dance to the music they love. This is the chance, so reach into the closet, pull out those Adidas Superstars and get fly on the dancefloor. Word.
Shell Toe Live
Revival, 783 College St
$12 advance, $15 door