A hot new kind of karaoke has been taking cities across the world by storm. Now, this isn’t your run of the mill drunk-people-destroying-good-music type of karaoke. This is hip hop karaoke, and all the cool kids are doing it.
At Hip Hop Karaoke (or HHK) Montreal, there is no screen with the little bouncy ball to help you follow along with the lyrics. In fact, there are no lyrics at all. If you want to get up on the HHK stage, you gotta have that shit MEMORIZED. Just think about that for a minute. Now try to sing even one verse of your your favorite hip hop song out loud, right this minute. It’s hard right? What I’m getting at is that this monthly event at Le Belmont on Saint Laurent attracts some serious talent and is, therefore, more than worth the measly cover charge. So far, I’ve been to the show three times and it has never disappointed. People drink, people dance and, when the performers really nail it, everyone goes wild.
Last time I went to HHK I was really impressed by how many fierce, talented ladies got up on the stage and just fucking killed it. Women folk are notoriously underrepresented in the music world in general, and in the world of hip hop in particular. Seeing that many strong ladies represent at this event made my inner feminist clapp her capable hands and click her sensible shoes with glee. Those dames really blew it up!
So, in honour of the little feminist that lives, or should live, inside us all, I proudly present to you some of the fabulous females of Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal:
Nova Kayn and Cat Venture
Age: 26 and 26
Favorite Hip Hop artist: Nova: Wycef Jean and Pharoahe Monch Cat: Eve
Song they performed: It Doesn’t Matter by Wyclef Jean featuring The Rock
Number of times they’ve performed at HHK: Nova Kayn 4, Cat Venture 1
With their eclectic looks and strong, confident vibe, these Montreal natives are a treat to watch onstage. “I love performing,” says Nova Kayn. “Like they say on the HHK site, it’s about taking it from the shower to the stage and just being yourself.”
“What I like about HHK is that If you bring good energy and you give a good show, then you get the same props, the same respect, [as a guy],” says Cat. “Because I’m a woman people think they have jurisdiction to tell me how I should look, how I should act and what I should say. Hip hop is a really cool way that chicks can come up and say what they want. They can be hard with it and be respected for that. Like the Put It In Your Mouth song we heard tonight: that’s a chick talkin about some dirty shit, ya know? And she’s just being real.”
MC Donatella has the kind of deep, husky voice I spent the better part of my youth chain smoking and drinking whiskey trying to get. She’s obviously the kind of woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone. I can tell from the confidence she exudes that she’s no stranger to the stage.
“I really love karaoke. It allows me to be a different person for a night,” she says. “Not everybody can be a professional hip hop artist. This gives us a chance to just let go, have fun and emulate our favorite rappers. And who knows? You might just find the next [big rapper] on our stage.”
Baby J and O Swag
Age: 20 and 21
Song they performed: Make Me Proud by Niki Minaj featuring Drake
Favorite Hip Hop artist: O Swag: Warren G Baby J: Jean Grae
Number of times they’ve performed: 5 or 6, always together
O Swag graced the stage wearing a Lady Gaga-esque pink wig and tight little black shorts. She and Baby J (two of the six person team that organizes the events), are both gorgeous twenty somethings that you can just tell have an ear to the ground on all the hippest shit in town.
“My love of hip hop started at the tender age of ten when I heard the song I Like Big Butts,” says Baby J. “I memorized all the lyrics.”
“One of the great things about HHK is that it attracts a pretty significant female crowd and a lot of the participants are female too,” says O Swag. “Last round there were more girls that rapped than guys. That’s rare in the world of hip hop.”