Café Cleopatra, Montreal QC, November 19

Photo: Luke Orlando

BY Stephen CarlickPublished Nov 20, 2015

Wasiu's hype man kicked off the Montreal rapper's set by exhorting the crowd to scream the name of the city they were in; when he was satisfied with the volume of the response, Wasiu shredded a high-energy rendition of "This Ain't Toronto."

The twosome complemented each other nicely at first, the hype man bringing the necessary forcefulness to enliven Wasiu's measured, laid-back flow. Given the excellence of his latest EP, MTLiens, it was surprising that the venue wasn't full to begin with, but by the time he played "Good Girl," he at least had the upper floor of Café Cleopatra mostly full and nodding their heads.

Live, he's a tight performer for the most part, even if he stumbled slightly on the silver-tongued climax of "Blkkkout." He picked it up on the next song, and rode that momentum through "Bout 02 Blow," but his laid-back vibe sometimes gets the better of him; much of the set lacked energy, which made it hard for Wasiu to get more than head-nods out of the crowd. Making matters worse, at times Wasiu's hype man approached "Obama's Anger Translator"-levels of mania throughout the show, screaming "Make some fucking noise!" with maybe too much aggression, especially leading into the chill drift of "Outer Space."

For all his seemingly anti-Toronto sentiment, Wasiu is obviously a Drake fan: he referenced "Houstatlantavegas" and uttered "Wayyy up" as the 6 God does on "Blessings," but his flow is unlike his Toronto counterpart. As demonstrated by the thumping, urgent ending to "Cosmos," Wasiu has plenty of talent; now, the question is whether he can capture imaginations and inspire fandom, too.

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