Nobody would have blamed Winnipeg hip-hop outfit the Lytics had the group decided to pack it in after a nearly two-and-a-half-year struggle to get They Told Me made. From losing managers, to labels coming in and out of the picture, to having two studios they were working in flood, to getting kicked out of a third, it has been an uphill battle for brothers A-Nice, Ashy and B-Flat, as well their cousin Mungala and DJ Lonnie C. Nothing in the music industry is ever easy, but it's how you handle the hardships that usually end up defining you.
If there was an underlying theme to Friday night's sold-out show at Winnipeg's Pyramid Cabaret, it was about rising above the struggle and misfortune that life throws at you. Despite everything the Lytics went through to get They Told Me recorded and in stores, the live juggernaut weren't going to let anything hold them back once the five-piece took the stage. Their infectious, unbridled energy was swirling during the first few numbers, with B-Flat, A-Nice, Ashy and Mungala trading verses about fighting through obstacles and coming back stronger on "Dear World."
The Lytics also ripped through a raucous, pumped-up version of "Ring My Alarm" that became even more attention-getting in a live setting. "Drown Me Out," with its skittering drums, energetic verses and tightly constructed flow, allowed the MCs to find their groove and ride it for the rest of the night. New track "Charles Bronson" felt a bit forced and out of place, but "Toot Your Own Horn" really seemed to get the crowd into it, with just the right amount of call and response from B-Flat, his brothers and Mungala.
Working in another track the group have a video for, "Stay Calm," with its summertime-meets-indie-rock vibe, was one of the highlights of the night, as B-Flat carryied the chorus with a conviction that comes from finding redemption over the past two and a half years of strife.
The prairie hip-hop crew finished the night off with a couple of the songs that got them all the attention in the first place, the radio-ready "Big City Sound Girl," their first EP's "Stay Humble" and their new end-of-the-night anthem "It's Over" from They Told Me.
It may have been an uphill battle to get to this point, but if the early returns from the first couple videos, the album, a recent tour with Cadence Weapon and the sold-out release party are any indication, the Lytics will be glad they stuck through it.