Peg City Holla Pyramid Cabaret, Winnipeg MB - August 20 to 21, 2004

Peg City Holla Pyramid Cabaret, Winnipeg MB - August 20 to 21, 2004
Winnipeg has always been the little city that could as far as hip-hop is concerned. The seventh annual Peg City Holla festival showcased some of the city's most revered MCs with an old-school kick-off night featuring the groups that built the scene. Mood Ruff, Frek Sho and Shadez were all in attendance, but the highlight was a reunited Farm Fresh, who hit the stage to celebrate ten years of home-grown label Peanuts & Corn. Better-known individually as Pip Skid, McEnroe and DJ Hunnicutt, Farm Fresh exploded on stage after almost a decade apart. Classic tracks like "Oh" and the previously unreleased live staple "Pay Attention" drove the crowd into a frenzy, and hints that the group would be recording a new album were met with the loudest cheers of the weekend. Mood Ruff, whose members have been organising the festival every year, were also at the top of their game, mixing crowd favourites from the early '90s with tracks from their new album, due in October. Former Mood Ruff/Farm Fresh enemies Frek Sho performed an unforgettably blazing live set, including a few incredible solo tracks by Sunil Ishq, a member of the Frek Sho family who became a major label rap star in India. Shadez, another classic 'Peg city group, were the odd ones out, with club-ready radio-friendly bangers, as opposed to the introspective nerd-hop of the other acts, but they managed to prove why they've continued to be one of the city's top-rated groups. With a Farm Fresh reunion and on-point sets by a host of classic performers on Friday, the festival's second night struggled to match the intensity and crowd participation. It wasn't a bad show, but the audience was so blown away by their old school heroes that even headliner Ali Shaheed Muhammad (of A Tribe Called Quest) couldn't keep the momentum going. Night two's highlights were a brief three-song set by John Smith, who delivered a venomously aggressive blast of hip-hop backed up by Pip Skid, himself a ball of onstage rage. Canadian DMC champ DJ Brace showcased his mind-bending international routine, which he'll be putting to good use at the upcoming championship in England. Headliner Muhammad made a valiant effort to match the previous night's momentum with a fantastic DJ set of absolute classic records, and although he got a decent crowd reaction, he just wasn't high-profile enough to get the type of response as Winnipeg's legends.