This past Thursday night, the Diamond Mine Agency packed the Bourbon Room on Dalhousie Street in downtown Ottawa for a hip-hop show with more flare than the “Nature Boy”, and our very own Leigh Bursey and Dave Di Ubaldo were there to catch all of the action. Being that Project Mantra opened up the show, Leigh asked for Dave’s help in delivering the review to bring some balance to the coverage.

DAVE: Project Mantra kicked the show off with a solid twenty minutes of mostly original material, minus a cover of Lorde’s “Royals.” Their set was crisp, energetic, and eclectic.

Project Mantra’s Audrey Cahoon serenades with a version of Lorde’s “Royals.: Picture by Dave Di Ubaldo.

Project Mantra’s Leigh Bursey captured in moment of mid-scream during “Scream For Me.” Picutre by Dave Di Ubaldo.

LEIGH: with nine opening acts, it can sometimes be hard to separate what stood out from what has potential, or what flies under the radar. But no doubt that I my mind, as someone who found the entire evening pretty fascinating that there were definitely a few key performers who brought a lot of depth to their performances.

Cruz is a medical miracle. Still in recovery from a vicious motorcycle accident in which he sliced his arm open, separated his spine and shattered a number of bones, the Ottawa area emcee should not have been able to stand. Let alone deliver a solid performance with flow, swagger and finesse. His smooth voice and staggered dance steps were only furthered accented by the use of a walking cane that doubled as both a stage prop and a legitimate walking tool.

Cruz using his walking stick for both swagger and function. Photo by Dave Di Ubaldo.

Beyond and C-Note both brought their a-games to centre stage as well. Delivering punchy and witty lines that told stories of struggle, success and desire.

C-Note slaying at the Bourbon Room in Ottawa. Photo by Dave Di Ubaldo.

Easily the standouts of the undercard, they both delivered unique and passionate performances, showcasing the depth of Ottawa’s underground hip hop scene.

Madchild’s touring partner Joseph Rose has a lot of potential and a bright future ahead of him. Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, the emcee is on the rise and his tracks are well produced, his personality is welcoming, and his enthusiasm made him a stand out act that made the most of his twenty-five minute set. By the end of his last track, the audience was buzzing for Madchild and the ground began to rumble.

Joseph Rose bringing the party at the Bourbon Room in Ottawa. Photo by Dave Di Ubaldo.

Appearing on stage like a ghost in the night, the 4-time Juno award winning hip hop artist performed at a level that I believe many of us didn’t expect. It is easy to underestimate an artist who’s peak of commercial success was in the early 2000s era, but make no mistake, Madchild is on great shape, his sordid history with addiction is behind him, and his rhymes are as tight as they have ever been. Covered from the head down in tattoos that illustrate the history of battle scars and tribulations of the “Battle Axe Warrior”, Madchild dominated the stage for a solid hour and a half of non stop flow, savage delivery, epic monologues, and hook driven sequences that kept the audience bouncing. Crowd pleasers like “Backpack Man” only furthered our thirst for more.

Not only has Madchild still got it, but he reminds us all just how much further we need to go to get to his level.

Madchild knows what’s up, at a packed show at the Bourbon Room in Ottawa. Photo by Dave Di Ubaldo.

The Diamond Mine Agency continues to deliver. There was a lot of talent on stage on Thursday night, from a variety of different hip hop styles. We were the odd group out but we are definitely proud of our contribution and we can’t wait to share the stage with Madchild again on Tuesday, January 24th when we invade Cornwall and La Maison. Tickets are available now.

Our own Dave Di Ubaldo with Madchild post-show.