Bun B The Hoxton, Toronto ON, May 4

Bun B The Hoxton, Toronto ON, May 4
Photo: Shane Parent
Bun B, one of the originators of southern hip-hop in his former duo, UGK, stopped by the Hoxton during his The Trillest Tour last night. A bona fide rap veteran, Bun's been in the game since the late '80s and has his own string of hits on top of UGK's formidable early 2000s catalog. Since the passing of UGK brother Pimp C, he's been coming out with well-received solo albums including last year's release, Trill OG: The Epilogue.

Before Bun B headlined the show, there was Kid Hitz. The young local rapper performed songs from his Starving Artist Mixtape to a half empty venue, but other than a small contingent of supporters, no one was feeling it. DJ duo Thugli set the mood with a solid mix of bangers and unexpected remixes of crowd favourites that had people moving, especially a small but rowdy group at the front. A remix of Kanye West's "New Slaves" was a highlight. Thugli have played shows large and small, and seem to know exactly what works, but after over an hour and a half, it started to feel exhaustive for an opening act. Wasn't it finally time for Bun B?

Cory Mo, Houston rapper and Bun B's hype man, took to the stage. "Y'all ready for some UGK?" he yelled. Cheers from crowd. "We're just waiting for our special guest but Bun B will be up shortly."

Cory Mo played a decent and short collection of his own songs that, though the audience was unfamiliar with them, most hip-hop heads bumped to. Then, almost seamlessly, Bun B joined him onstage.

What you get with an artist like Bun B is the benefit of his many years as a performer, a well-known repertoire of songs to choose from and the ability to not miss a single beat or rhyme. It was a bare-bones rap show, taking it back to a time before hip-hop acts were expected to have pop star-worthy production values. There was a DJ, a hype man and a rapper… and that's all the crowd needed. Underground Kingz classics like "Murder" and "Let Me See It" were met with excitement from hardcore and presumably casual fans alike as well as his own features on hits like Jay Z's "Big Pimpin'" and Three Six Mafia's "Sippin' on Some Syrup."

When he left the stage after "That's Gangsta," the crowd cheered and then fell silent. Unsure of whether or not an encore was on the way, there wasn't much happening other than a hum of confusion and dissatisfaction. It was a long wait, and perhaps fans didn't want to think that it would be over in just a half hour. Then, the DJ grabbed the mic, repeating: "Y'all ready for some more UGK?"

Bun B came back and performed a couple more songs before he closed things with what many were waiting for: "Int'l Player's Anthem." Drake, who has worked with Bun B, came on stage, danced and thanked the UGK rapper for coming out. Bun acknowledged Raptors fans, many heartbroken after a game seven loss and still in their "We The North" gear, and received a warm response (Raptors power forward, Patrick Patterson, was in attendance). The show ended on an uplifting note, despite earlier lows, thanks to the seasoned Bun B.

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