Manifesto: The Main Event Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto ON September 21

Manifesto: The Main Event Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto ON September 21
If the intent of this year’s Manifesto was to showcase the best and tightest of Toronto’s urban music scene, then the festival’s closing jam proved an illuminating success on a number of levels.

After a much-delayed start to the main portion, things were quickly drawn to speed with two short expos by Fatski and newcomer Promise d’Apostle, who turned out a swampy cut about family and crafty lyrical flip of Lil Wayne’s "A Milli” respectively. Marvel was next, armed with the heat of soothing nostalgia in his classic tune "Hate Runs Deep,” setting up the sweet retro soul of Ms. Chawlz. With Zaki Ibrahim and I. James Jones on backing vocals, the smartly dressed trio put on a show of consummate force marked by smooth harmonies and old-meets-new tones.

Following some positive vibes by Hero and a fierce sermon offered by poet Kamau to help make sense of our city’s street violence, it was finally time for the big three. Red-1 carried the lion’s share of the load for the noticeably stage-shy Misfit as Rascalz ran through an important history lesson, making the place hot with a memorable "Northern Touch” reunion (minus surviving all-star Kardi) and opening the stage door for crowd favourites K’naan and K-Os.

Once again conveying the sense that he could rock an entire show a cappella and still move the crowd, K’naan ran through a host of clever cuts ("15 Minutes Away”) and violent tales to the coincidental sounds of a hovering helicopter, before graciously passing off to the closing act.

To put it simply, K-Os (pictured) rocked it, raising the stakes in his guitar-led assault ten-fold while never relinquishing the foundational hip-hop root. Though inevitably cut down by city curfew, the singer was still able to pepper his abbreviated set with standout new cuts like the ominous "Zamboni,” closing out a day that, when held up to a wholly lacklustre after-party ruined by two heavyweight out-of-towners, brought some much-needed hometown pride to the fore.