Summer of S.A.R.S. The Hooch, Toronto ON - July 17, 2003

The S.A.R.S. extravaganza of the summer has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones, major corporations, or even the illness it derives its name from. Rather, the "Supreme Awesome Rap Syndrome" tour that passed through Toronto for two dates is a small Eastern Canada hip-hop excursion by Halifax, NS's Jesse Dangerously and SJ the Wordburglar, with London, ON's Toolshed and Thesis Sahib. Their first Toronto show took place at the weekly "In Divine Style" night at the Hooch. Going on after local group the Straight Goods, Jesse Dangerously's set was a welcome change that brought both energy and innovation with mostly self-produced beats and a high-speed delivery. Next, SJ took to the stage in a striped burglar outfit and mask (à la the Hamburglar) and hyped the crowd with "Wordburglar," an "In Divine Style" classic, as well as "Burglaration," "No Flow" and "Three in the Key," a posse cut with his alter egos Thug Luv and Dandruff. With this much energy and stage presence, the Wordburglar is destined for more than just alphabet heists. Thesis opened his set with a freestyle over C&C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" and continued with a mix of new and old songs, finishing with a fine solo rendition of the Sixtoo-produced Bending Mouth track "Stolen From Family." Unfortunately, the crowd had thinned out by the time Toolshed's Timbuktu and Choke took to the stage with Thesis and SJ to present the posse cut "Supreme Awesome Rap Syndrome." The thinning of the crowd continued throughout Toolshed's set, which started late and ended rather abruptly at almost 2:30 a.m., with the trio unable to do all their planned songs. A vastly improved stage and better sound and lighting since the opening of "In Divine Style" provided the Summer of S.A.R.S. artists with an intimate venue in which to spread their infectious hip-hop virus.