Show Me The Money Five rap champ BewhY stormed the stage at Danforth Music Hall in January. It would be the second stop on his dual-city Canadian tour, which kicked off in Vancouver. Still and stoic under a lone spotlight, BewhY appeared like an etheareal figure, veiled behind smoke. ‘The Time Goes On’ filled the theatre. Framed beneath a beam of light, he was still as a mannequin. When the beat dropped he leapt across the stage like a spring uncoiled. Clad in a simple turtleneck and impressive bling, BewhY’s staccato flow hit the crowd full force. “Tic toc… throw me on top of time”, he hollered as his spotless white Adidas Fluxes caught air.
The show was high energy and interactive, BewhY clearing the stage with ease as he laid out our favourites with a mixture of solemnity, playfulness and grace. He greeted the audience in English and chatted in Korean. A girl next to me translated a few times, telling me ‘BewhY wants to make sure everyone understands what he’s saying’. That gesture of inclusivity continued throughout the show, as BewhY crouched down to get closer to his enraptured audience.
The twenty-four year-old Incheon native, whose real name is Buyung Yoon Lee (이병윤), has handled his sudden stardom with humbleness. Backstage before the show the rapper appeared poised as he answered media queries. Once onstage it was clear that he may be relatively new to fame and international exposure, but is a seasoned professional with undeniable presence.
BewhY’s faith has been an intergral part of his music and life, and he makes no secret of his devout Christianity. In “In Trinity” he raps, “I believe in trinity. I’m in Him. He is Jesus, Holy Spirit, God.” While every BewhY song features at least one reference to Jesus, BewhY’s music cannot be defined as exclusively Christian rap. His style has a far-reaching appeal that is relateable to people of all denominations and creeds. Perhaps it is BewhY’s open voicing of his faith and beliefs that make him all the more appealing, as he encourages us to be unapologetically ourselves.
As the show heated up, BewhY threw water onto the crowd, performing fan favourites like “Puzzle”, “Shalom” and “One Million Won”. This tour comes hot of the heels of his Mnet Asian Music Awards Best Rap Performance win for “Puzzle”, also featuring his best friend and SMTM 5 runner-up CJAMM. His partner-in-crime also hit up Toronto this winter at Orchid Nightclub with a high-octane set. With both rappers now having experienced the appeal of their music in the Great White North, who knows if a joint Canadian tour is in their future.
BewhY was flanked by DJ Orangebank and Simba Zawadi, a member of the Awaken Tongues crew. Simba warmed up the stage with some songs from his Late Night Mixtape EP with Kenny Raw. BewhY followed up powerful Korean Independence Day song, “Manseh” with a rousing rendition of “Day Day”. The floor crowd unfurled a massive Korean flag, wordlessly greeting BewhY with the same amiability he showed us during the show. After he ending his lengthy set, BewhY came back onstage for a rowdy three-song encore. He, Simba Zawadi and his DJ Orangebank took a selfie with the crowd, a souvenir of his first time meeting his many Toronto fans on Canadian soil. It appears that BewhY’s time in Canada was relatively short, but the support and adoration the Toronto admirers showed him at Danforth will surely bring him back to our city soon. No matter who you are, his prosletyzing raps will surely convert you to a fan.
Just the facts: social media edition
You can check out BewhY and his music on:
And you can check out Simba Zawadi and his music on: