Published Mar 25, 2012The Artist Select showcase hosted by reigning rap Juno champ Shad had already found its form by the time Toronto's 88 Days of Fortune crew got their turn at the mic. But while those closest to the stage were clearly onboard, exactly who the chattering masses at the back of the room had turned out to see would forever remain a mystery.
88 Days soulstress Ayo Leilani was up first, taking her notably lonesome position at centre stage with the beat-providing DJ set up half a room away, and wasted little time in firing her potent voice into the gulf between her and the seemingly timid crowd. Each inspired vocal turn saw the ice melt just a little bit more, seeing the audience take just a few steps closers as she delved into a handful of varied backing tracks borrowed stalwart producer Exile before calling up fellow crew member Wolf J McFarlane to drop a hot verse on the set's bouncy climax.
Next up was KJ to initiate the hip-hop quotient of Shad's stylistically varied cabal, drawing folks in with his working man's lyricism and casual delivery. Choice cut "Repeat" garnered the biggest response early on, revealing a number of longtime supporters strewn through spacious club, mouthing along to the track's catchy hook. Despite the incessant conversational din emanating from the half of the venue simply out for a night on the town, the seemingly unfazed 88 Days representative kept things moving. Running through a series of tight tracks at an efficient clip, the deceptively reserved MC would wind things up with a creative twists, cuing up the smoothed-out, fashion-focus groove "Out the Box" before adding a fitting flip via Outkast's "So Fresh, So Clean" to close things out in style.