Published Nov 08, 2014In advance his latest full-length album, Cannon, released in September, Dartmouth, NS rapper Cam Smith released two ridiculously over-the-top videos for new tracks "Tempo" and "Mad Crack" — each of them playing with hip-hop iconography (parties, drugs, thug culture) but twisting them into unexpected, psychedelic directions.
Live, Smith — who opened for Raekwon and Ghostface two weeks earlier at Halifax Pop Explosion — never gets quite so delirious, but still has an unwavering energy. Backed by members of Halifax EDM-rock unit Neon Dreams, including DJ Corey LeRue, the half-hour set had a rock show's energy (if, sadly, some of the typical bass-heavy sonic mush of a hip-hop show) and Smith's enthusiasm seemed to escalate song by song. Sweat poured down his face as he had the tight crowd in the compact Maple/Aspen/Birch Room bouncing to tracks like "Nonsense" and the set-closing "Work It" from his 2012 album Ocean Blue.
"My hair's looking pretty fucked up right now," he told the audience as he eventually shed his hat and jacket under the lights. "Tweet my hair with #NSMW2014 so it shows up on those screens." Even at his hardest, Smith's goofy, endearing smile gives away his playfulness, and he was clearly having a good time.
"This next song has a bad word," he laughed, introducing Cannon's "N*ggas in the Night." "Maybe you guys should say 'ninjas' because I see a lot of white people in the audience." In a similar spirit of inclusion, members of Halifax's ODOD crew flooded the stage to party with Smith. At its best, NSMW blurs the line between an industry festival and a community one, and Smith and friends danced right over it.