Recap: Manifesto ’09 – Toronto


Beautiful Photos by Philippe N, aka Star P. Please support.

With so much happening in the States it’s easy to forget about us up North, but this weekend Toronto was host to the 3rd annual Manifesto festival, celebrating the dopest talent in all areas of Hip-Hop culture. Last year the legendary DJ Premier and Pete Rock played for the first time ever together, and this year 9th Wonder was chillin’ and spinning, Jeru the Damaja was on hand and Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek chose to reunite for the first time in years as Reflection Eternal. Not too bad! The official Canada Pro Bboy competition and a youth festival in the heart of the Parkdale neighborhood were just two of the events in this 5-day festival as well.

Manifesto Rich Kidd
Manifesto Festival Manifesto

9th Wonder at the Manifesto Festival

“Hip-hop is the music of the youth,” said Music Director for the festival Jesse Ohtake, “before Manifesto there was Canadian Music Week, but nothing that catered hip-hop specifically.” The festival has been gaining momentum ever since it’s conception 3 years ago, and this year it saw some crazy enthusiasm and support from the city, even including an appearance and shout out from the mayor. Opening on Wednesday night with a mini film festival, audiences caught back-to-back screenings of celebrated Bboy doc The Freshest Kids and Internationally renowned director Jon Reiss’s graffiti doc Bomb It (both flicks with notable appearances from KRS-One, what’s a hip-hop history lesson without him?) .

Much hyped from the last 2 years of the festival, the 3 floor art Exhibition was apparently the party to be at and it definitely delivered. 3 floors of insanely innovative art from the likes of Nunca (Brazil), Roadsworth (Montreal), local Toronto graphic/toy designer We Kill You, Alexa Hatanaka, Omen, Case and Chris Dyer. Hip-hop beats were supplied by local Dj’s all night and free ice cream sandwiches made the event a pleasure for all senses.

Manifesto B-Boy

On Sunday, the last day of the festival, the sun was shining all day and  thankfully  good vibes were aplenty in downtown Toronto’s Nathan Phillip’s Square. Earlier in the day local up and coming MC’s like KJ and Jahvon performed on the main stage, making way for veteran Toronto MC’s like Solitair and the Black Jays. Toronto duo Art of Fresh, consisting of D.O. and Slakah the Beatchild, have been making big moves all year and performed at Manifesto for the first time right off of an international tour. “This is a huge outlet for the amount of artists that we have in the city,” they said, “and in Toronto it’s not like we have one or two guys doing it, we have a whole community that’s doing it and in a lot of different areas. This is a beautiful thing.”

Art of Fresh

Gaining more and more momentum every year, Manifesto is an amazing festival that brings the Dot’s hip-hop community together for some much needed bonding. Everything from the execution to the stylistic choices was on point, and next year should be even better.