Montreal is by far one of the most majestic and enchanting places in the fucking world. Rightfully considered the cultural epicentre of Canada due to its rich history, culture and arts - it's home to a wide range of experimental sounds created by a plethora of musicians sonically challenging the mainstream.

This past November, attending the M for Montreal music festival, I had the opportunity to engulf myself in every aspect of the city. Not allowing my lifetime ban from Uber to deter me from living my best life and truly doing up tourism good and proper, I took the ‘support your local boss-man' approach by using local cabs to attend gigs and sightseeing. These rides around St Laurent Blvd, China Town, and Mile End gave me the opportunity to ask where the best poutine spots are and how in the world the locals deal with the brutal winters. Throughout my time at the festival, I dived deeper into Montreal’s hip-hop scene as well as exploring the highly politicized Franglais, rap collectives and eras.

Business is definitely booming for Montreal’s music industry with self-sufficient independent labels such as Make it Rain Records, JoyRide and Ghost Club Records just to a name a few all thriving, as well as countless music venues and festivals in the city. Rappers like Loud and Rymz have dominated the streaming charts by gaining millions and millions of listens, so it’s safe to say the rap scene has a strong infrastructure and fan base in the city. Hip-hop has been present in Montreal since the early '90s with pioneering rap group MFR (Mouvement Rap Francophone) playing a major role in cultivating the francophone rap-scene in the city. The early 2000s saw Montreal’s first international success breakthrough with francophone rap by the legendary rap-group Muzion's collaboration with Wyclef Jean, ‘24 Heures a vivre’. This smash hit, discussing the immigrant experience, is known for setting the precedence for cross-over heights.

While at M for Montreal, I had the pleasure of meeting group member Imposs at a local showcase at Le Belmont right before he graced the stage as a headlining act. For a man considered one of the most widely respected and highly influential musicians in Québec, he carried himself with utmost humility and the grace of an absolute G! The showcase at Le Belmont was curated by Sebastian Navaro, president at Ghost Club Records, in an effort to highlight new and emerging talent across the city.

The unique versatility in style, cadences and sounds from the performers was visible. Some of the more noteworthy acts from the night came from Kevin Na$h - a local trap rapper who mopped the stage with his crew with high energy dread shaking, performing his very fitting ‘Belmont Freestyle’ from his debut mixtape Pure Fiction.

Maky Lavender was another memorable act mainly due to his theatrical dance moves who had more eight counts then I’ve had hot dinners! During the show, I managed to submerge myself in the jumping crowd and noticed, regardless of whether or not you can speak French, what is universally understood is the grittiness and hunger the artists carried for their craft. The enchanting city that is best known to the world for Céline Dion and maple syrup, ain’t all sweet for everyone mate. Most of the artists that performed on the night all feature on a complication album We don’t die we multiply, viewed as a celebration of comradery which sees collaborations with rappers and producers in the city. Co-signed by the OG himself Imposs blessing the album with an opening track, I’d highly recommend checking the album out if you want a quick crash tutorial in the up-incoming diverse sounds of Montreal hip-hop, with features from DesusGod, Ogee Rodman, Mori$$ Regal.

The final night of the festival was a sold-out gig at Mtelus, with headlining duties from Loud, support form Rymz, and a surprise appearance from band members Larry and Ajust. Entertaining an arena of over 2,000 screaming mosh-pitting fans with infectious energy is a nod to his showmanship. What was more impressive was the ease in which he darted between English and French in verses, ‘Mon chat mon seul ami so je l'appelle dawg, What up dawg !’ – a common practice in the francophone rap community creating a hybrid called ‘Franglias’.

A lingo quarterbacked by a select few in the scene including Loud x Larry x Ajust, Alaclair Ensemble and Dead Obies, creating a whole new listening experiences for fans as the rappers challenge themselves to merge the two languages to not only rhyme but to flow on the beat, taking their creativity to new heights. Wordplay being a key element of the genre, it comes to no surprise that seemingly code-switching is a ninja skill that these rap groups have mastered, check out their ‘WordUP!’ battle rap to see it in a live audience setting. Mind-blowing.

Franglias has been present in MTL’s rap since the late '90s, with the undisputed first record released in 1999 courtesy of Franglais Street Slang by rap-duo San Pression. Montreal being a city that is 57% bilingual, Franglais is an organic linguistic evolution that can potentially create the opportunity of a cross-over international reach given the right spotlight. In hindsight, Franglais is a glimpse into a future that is a more inclusive and radically challenges the highfalutin conservative 'Quebecois’ attitude. The Montreal rap world is ever growing with visuals and sounds are just as glossy as their American influences and should be viewed with the same regard.