Once again, Sunday of Memorial Day weekend meant Rhymesayers Entertainment’s Soundset festival at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota. 2014 saw Soundset sell out its 30,000 tickets for the first time through advance ticket sales, and the massive crowd was treated to a perfect day of hip hop both with regards to the weather (highs in the upper 70s and partly sunny) and the music (from classics like Nas and Cypress Hill to a fresh from jail Wiz Khalifa). Head below for a photo review of the day (more photos are available on MiG’s Facebook), and check back in the next couple of days for MiG interviews with Lizzo w/Lazerbeak and Allan Kingdom.
The first MC to take the main stage was recent Rhymesayers’ signee, and Twin Cities’ local, deM atlaS. deM atlaS’ Charle Brwn EP was Honorable Mention on my Top Ten Twin Cities Releases of 2013, and is still free/name your own price on Bandcamp, so I was excited to get my first live look at him. Showing off a frenetic stage presence (including smashing a guitar) and an underground rap style/flow, I was not disappointed and can’t wait to see where he takes his career.
After deM atlaS I headed over to the smaller Fifth Element Tent (unfortunately missing Ab Soul on the main stage), and caught the tail end of a set by Ecid. I’m always impressed by folks who can ably perform as both electronic DJ and MC, and what little I saw of Ecid convinced me I need to explore further. Initial investigation shows me he has a number of releases up on Bandcamp.
K. Raydio & Psymun are a Twin Cities duo who use Psymun’s vaguely ambient beats and K. Raydio’s sultry vocals to create R&B/hip hop accurately described as ‘lovely’. Their debut album, LucidDreamingSkylines is available for streaming/purchase on Bandcamp, and I don’t know how I’m going to write the rest of this review because I want to do nothing more than shut my eyes and let it wash over me again and again.
I’d heard of Seattle’s Nacho Picasso, but had no idea was I was in for when he took the stage. Nacho is funny, dark, energetic, drenched in weed, and a great live performer. Again, he has a number of releases on Bandcamp.
The main reason I hit up the Fifth Element Tent was to catch Allan Kingdom‘s set before our interview. I’ll have more on him when the interview posts, but for now, go download everything he has on Bandcamp (especially Talk to Strangers) and enjoy.
Back to the main stage for another recent Rhymesayers’ signee, Prof. I’ve said it before, I’m not the biggest fan of King Gampo, but there is no denying he puts on an amazing live performance and I look forward to every opportunity I have to experience it. I recommend catching him whenever/wherever you can, but especially in a festival atmosphere where the crowd can fully get into the show.
When the Soundset lineup was announced there were a couple names that jumped out at me and Chance the Rapper was right at the top of that group. Acid Rap was my #3 album of 2013 and the fact he is touring with a live band (I’m an absolute sucker for live band hip hop) made his set an absolute can’t miss. Not only did he not disappoint, but Chance the Rapper was without a doubt the set of the day.
The Odd Future crew is known for their anything goes attitude and live shows that can deteriorate to anything from violence to misogyny. So it was anyone’s guess as to what would happen when Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt took the stage in their Earl Wolf configuration. What we got was (other than some insulting Tyler comments to a female in the crowd) a pretty straight forward rap show.
Up next: Cypress Hill. It’s hard for me to review their performance because it was such an honor for me to take pictures of a group as groundbreaking as them. I just kept having flashbacks to listening to “Insane in the Brain” when I was in high school. Unfortunately a large amount of the crowd was too young to realize the royalty they were witnessing and tuned out. Their loss.
There was no concern the crowd would tune out 2 Chainz. There had been rumors earlier in the day that Tity Boi was a no show, but when his set time came around he showed up in every sense of the word. 2 Chainz is another artist that hasn’t quite reached me on tape (other than “Feds Watching” of course, which is a crazy great track), but I see now what the fuss is about. A ridiculously fun set.
I mentioned it was hard to properly review Cypress Hill. Well, it’s impossible for me to review Nas doing Illmatic in full. Amazing.
On Saturday, Wiz Khalifa was arrested for possession of marijuana in Texas (the same spot Fiona Apple, Willie Nelson, and Snoop have been arrested…seriously musicians don’t have pot there!), so there was serious concern he wouldn’t make it to Minnesota after spending the night in jail. No concern was necessary. Trap Wiz was released, hopped a private plane, and made it with time to spare. Anyone who smuggled in some pot and hadn’t used it up already, did so when he took the stage (including an unrepentant Wiz himself) for another manic performance.
After ceding their spot to Snoop Dogg last year, Atmosphere returned to their traditional headlining set for 2014. I honestly don’t know what to say about Atmosphere live performances anymore, other than to reiterate that if you haven’t seen them before you must rectify that fact as soon as possible. Slug is absolutely amazing live rapper (the faces he makes are truly glorious) and when he is joined by Brother Ali like he was for “Cats Van Bags”…well…that’s just too much awesomeness for one stage.
An author and editor at MiG, Craig lives in Minnesota with his wife and son and is an attorney in his real life. Once upon a time Craig played the trumpet and spent four years in the Hawkeye Marching Band and pep band. These days Craig finds himself most often listening to experimental rock, hip hop, and post punk, but you can see everything he's listening to at: www.last.fm/user/cafreema Craig is not ashamed to admit the first concert he ever attended was New Kids on the Block.
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