Lex Leosis / Keynes Woods Megaphono, Ottawa ON, February 9

Lex Leosis / Keynes Woods Megaphono, Ottawa ON, February 9
Photo: Kamara Morozuk
7
There's always one night in a festival with too many shows, too many similar set times and too much talent — the last night of Megaphono's 2019 festival was one of them, and unfortunately for both Lex Leosis and Keynes Woods, the lack of crowd showed. Though the crowd at Babylon on Saturday night was small, it was mighty.
 
After performing with the Sorority the night before, Lex Leosis played a rare solo show equipped with new music, a killer stage presence and bars for days. Backed by veteran DJ Mel Boogie, Lex took dedicated fans down memory lane, diving into her 2015 single "Monogamy," as well as "All Hail the Queen" before doing verses over Pharoahe Monch's "Simon Says" and Dr. Dre's "What's the Difference."
 
Though much of the set was a mismatch of music from her short catalogue, she went on to introduce three new singles, "Se Miso," "Pull Up" and "I Don't Play That," which speaks to domestic violence. Even though Lex Leosis hinted at more solo music to come, she didn't leave without acknowledging her presence in hip-hop culture: "I'm really, really honoured to be a guest to hip-hop. As a white person, I feel blessed to be here and I take that very seriously," she stated.
 
While Lex Leosis stressed speaking her truth, Keynes Woods seems to still be finding how to express his. The Congo-born, Ottawa-raised and Toronto-based rapper seemed less comfortable on stage that his fellow artists, which ultimately reflected in a short 20-minute set.
 
Getting the crowd hyped on "Avarice," Keynes Woods went on to wrangle the crowd to the front of the stage so he could perform the spoken word-like "Water In the City" for the crowd, which was not only the most humbling point of his set, but also the most sincere — almost as if a weight came off his shoulders. With that energy, he closed his set with the viral hit "Threat," which was featured on Berlin's avant-garde music show "A Colours Show" (similar to NPR's "Tiny Desk Concert"). Ultimately, Keynes Woods is a threat — he just need to practice his roar.