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Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal

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Think You Know Karaoke?
Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal is not what you think it is.

Above: Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal co-founder Morgan Steiker (above) helped bring a New York original across the border and into Montreal nightlife back in March 2011. Steiker has since moved to NYC but is keeping the movement alive with a new HHKmtl team.

Photo © Evelyn Reid
February 21, 2013 - It doesn't matter how many karaoke nights you've experienced. It won't prepare you for Hip Hop Karaoke. At least not Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal (HHKmtl). Maybe that's because in many ways, it's a misnomer. Of all people, I should know by now not to judge an event by its name.

“I grew up with rap my whole life but I never wanted to be a rapper. I just wanted to rap one awesome song on stage, once in my life and go “hey ladies! How ya doing?!” and have a bunch of girls screaming, then put the mike down and go back to my regular life. That's why we brought Hip Hop Karaoke [to Montreal], to satisfy that personal urge.” -HHKmtl co-founder Morgan Steiker

Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal: How It Works
You want to take to HHKmtl's stage? Then be prepared. There are no teleprompters whatsoever so you'll have to memorize the lyrics. And practice. And register your song of choice ahead of time. Here's how. Once registered, organizers will be in supportive contact with pointers and tips on how to prep for the hip hop karaoke experience. In other words, this is no spontaneous drunken joke inflicted on whoever happens to be in the room. This is a real performance, a tribute, a party. And a total rush. I caught up with law student Kanan Kasuya when she came off the stage during the December 2012 edition and asked her what it was that made her go up there and why she was so ecstatic. Read more.

Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal: The Performers
I stayed for roughly three hours and in that time, I saw a procession of mostly college-age young adults take the mike, and about as many women as men went up. But according to HHKmtl co-founder Morgan Steiker, be ready for anything. And anyone. Anybody from comedy celebs -- think Hannibal Buress and Maz Jobrani, who both dropped by while in town for Just for Laughs -- to burlesque dancers to your mom could hop up on the HHK stage: “some of the best performances we had included two fat guys who looked like they worked at Blockbuster doing Outcast's “Bombs Over Baghdad” or 40-year-old women, mothers with children, that are rapping songs from the '80s, like “None of Your Business” by Salt-N-Pepa. There was also this 18-year-old girl who looked like Justin Bieber doing “Juicy” by Biggie with her best friend, this big gay guy on back-up vocals, and two girls on each side doing the chorus. It was incredible! There are so many great performances. And the best ones are often where the performers don't even look like hip hop fans.”

Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal: The Crowd
When I went to HHK last December 2012, the crowd was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. And I don't use that word lightly, in case the hyphens didn't spell that out. Warm, supportive, encouraging, some even helped performers who blanked out and forgot their lines by shouting out the lyrics, when they knew them. And they cheered for every single gusty soul who went up there and gave it their all. The energy was infectious. Age-wise, the distribution skewed toward college students with some older-ish types here and there. At least a couple looked liked they were approaching forty.

Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal: The Rules
As long as you stay away from performing original material and refrain from using the n-word under any and all circumstances -- HHKmtl team suggests jigga, player, brother, ninja and ginger as alternatives -- you're good to go.

Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal: When? Where?
HHKmtl is usually held on a monthly basis --the last or second to last Thursday of the month-- at Le Belmont (map).

The next HHKmtl edition runs as of 11:30 p.m. on April 17, 2014 at Le Belmont (map). Doors open at 10 p.m. Admission $5 before 11 p.m., $10 after 11 p.m.

Visit the Hip Hop Karaoke Montreal website for details on the next edition.

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