Blackalicious / Lifesavas Opera House, Toronto ON - March 28, 2006

Although I still don’t know what rapper Gift of Gab and DJ/producer Chief Xcel of Blackalicious see in frequent tour partners and label-mates Lifesavas, their live set was definitely an improvement over when I caught them opening for Blackalicious’s first time hitting the T-dot. For their set, Vursatyle and Jumbo the Garbageman kept the energy up but didn’t really do much to stand out. On the other hand, Gift of Gab had everyone in the palm of his hand from the moment he stepped on stage and burst into "Alphabet Aerobics.” His versatility was amazing, bouncing from fast to slow raps and back again effortlessly. Blackalicious ran through a "best of” catalogue that included songs from all three of their albums, including a crowd-pleasing rendition of "Deception” from their 2000 debut, Nia, proving Gab’s ability to equally handle a story, a battle rap, or just wicked wordplay. Vursatyle, who also handled some back up vocals, along with Joyo Velarde, redeemed himself during a back-and-forth freestyle with Gift of Gab part way through the set, a concept again attempted during a final freestyle session that included all of the night’s performers. Before that happened, Gift of Gab brought out Mr. Pigeon John for their collaboration track "Side by Side,” from The Craft. John was an electric ball of energy, bouncing around the stage and hyping the crowd until the moment came for him to tear up his verse. And the only way to top this final song was to bring out Fatlip of the infamous Pharcyde for that final freestyle session. Still, heading into the crowd to mingle and sign autographs when it was all over certainly wasn’t a bad move by Gab. When all was said and done, one thing is for sure: Blackalicious throw one hell of a show.