It’s always a metaphorical gut punch when an artist has to cancel an appearance at the last minute, but it’s a bit of a double-fisted gut punch when it’s because of a medical issue, since it’s an equal mix of disappointment at the situation and empathy for the artist.

When it comes to hip hop shows north of the border, we’re kinda used to finding out last-minute about absences, often due to issues crossing the border (yeah, the one that doesn’t even have a wall). I mean, how many times have we seen local turntable vet Murge pressed into action in support of a world-renowned act who had their DJ turned back by the CBSA? Talib Kweli at Phillips Backyard 2015 and The Beatnuts at Rifflandia 2016 jump to mind as a couple notable examples. These were great opportunities for Murge to showcase his unique set of skills, to be sure, but what happens when it’s not the DJ who’s missing, but the rapper? That was the scenario at the Quannum MCs show last Friday at Distrikt Nightclub, where the evening’s main attraction, the inimitable and singular talent Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious) was forced to miss the proceedings due to a medical emergency.

But the show must go on, and after an extended opening DJ set from the aforementioned Murge, the remaining members of the Northern California-based collective Quannum MCs, DJ Chief Xcel (the other half of Blackalicious), joined by Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker (AKA Latyrx, who Victoria audiences will remember from a 2014 appearance at Rifflandia), proceeded to showcase their brand of progressive alternative hip hop for the masses.

They opened the show with their classic self-titled track “Latyrx”, an anomalous entry into the hip hop canon that features both MCs rapping completely different lyrics simultaneously. Talk about a mind-blowing experience. They carried on their high energy performance with other classic tracks from the late 90s, featuring their most notable track “Lady Don’t Tek No,” as well as newer work from their 2013 release The Second Album, including “Arrival.”

Even with the news about Gift of Gab’s absence reaching social media a couple hours before the show, a reminder from security outside the venue, and an offer from event organizer Blueprint to refund tickets for anyone who requested that option, the club still filled up to near capacity, which tells us that folks in Victoria still love a quality hip hop show, even if its headlining act is MIA.

We know Gift of Gab has been struggling with health issues related to Type-1 diabetes for a few years, so it was great to find out that he’ll make a quick recovery, after tweeting over the weekend that he plans to be back on the road for a show in Bozeman, Montana on March 6. Hopefully we’ll see him back in Victoria at some point down the road. In the meantime, you can check out the new single “Aspire” from his upcoming EP here.

Quannum MCs – Photo by Tyson Elder

DJ Murge – Photo by Tyson Elder

Quannum MCs – Photo by Tyson Elder

Quannum MCs – Photo by Tyson Elder

Quannum MCs – Photo by Tyson Elder

Quannum MCs – Photo by Tyson Elder

Quannum MCs – Photo by Tyson Elder

Quannum MCs – Photo by Tyson Elder

Quannum MCs – Photo by Tyson Elder