This past weekend, Common took his ‘Smiling Tour’ to Toronto’s Kool Haus for not just its only Canadian date, but also the venue’s final show before its 2015 closure. Put on by Maxamus Entertainment, Common partnered up with Jay Electronica to bring the show to fruition. Toronto’s DJ Lissa Monet took the tables early in the night while Taj The Black Lion hosted the event, and around 10:30PM and a packed room, Jay Electronica came to the stage. Sporting an awfully heavy jacket for the already-heated event that was quickly disregarded, the crowd cheered loud and proud as the Roc Nation artist hit the stage. Just as he abandoned his jacket, Jay Electronica stepped away from the stage to join a crowd of Diamonds, performing an array of music from his album-less discography, while his DJ TJ The King held down the tables. “Them n*ggas blew the levy the same way they blew the towers and I ain’t afraid to say it!”, he said as in-between tracks. The statement set the tone for the rest of his set, which he closed out by performing ‘Act 1: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)”, and inviting everyone who wanted to be on stage to come up.
Common took the stage at 11PM alongside New York’s DJ Dummy, Philly’s DJ Aktive, pianist Johnnie “Smurf” Smith and songstress Maimouna Youssef aka Mumu Fresh. With a raised solidarity fist, Common dived quickly into his catalogue, performing “New Day”, “The People” and “The Corner”. In an unlikely twist, Common had Drake’s “0-100” intertwined into “The Corner”, spitting a hot freestyle before jumping back into the single. He followed up with “Black Majic”, to which Maimouma Youssef’s vocals were highlighted greatly before jumping into “Go!” and “The Food”, as well as crowd favorites “Get ‘Em High” and “Testify”. While he caught his breath, DJ Dummy and DJ Aktive went toe-to-toe in a impromptu DJ battle before Common continued into speaking on Biggie Smalls and why he decided that ‘Biggie Smalls is the illest’ for “Diamonds”. The story telling continued throughout the night, as Common raised several records into the air including Big Daddy Kane and A Tribe Called Quest prior to rapping “I Used To Love H.E.R.”. Common also took a moment to invite a woman on stage to assist him with “The Light” before Johnnie “Smurf” Smith took to the keys to play a sort of J. Dilla tribute.
“Canada, we can all change the world. We can all change the world, it starts with us”, as Common raised his fist once again while speaking on the recent events that have plagued the black community – including those happening in his hometown of Chicago. He carried forward by performing “Kingdom Come” and closed out with “Be”. Despite an already incredible show, it was the encore in which Common spoke about his friendship with J. Dilla that silenced everyone. “He bought me this TV stand,” Common said as he pointed to a small stand on the stage. “I always wanted him to have a Grammy”, he continued. As he held up a Grammy and placed it on the TV stand, he took a moment and simply closed off the night with, “We got one”.
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