By Desney Cody, Photo Credit Jason Larkin
Sway Calloway, who hosted Soundset 2016, says that music, specifically hip-hop, is “multifaceted and multidimensional.” Soundset this year was exactly that.
It was the perfect mix of the old school classics like The Roots and Common, with the popular rappers like A$AP Rocky and Future, as well as the newest and best up and coming artists.
In 1969, we had Woodstock, where people from anywhere and everywhere came together because of one common love–music. Today, we have Soundset. The ninth year of the hip-hop music festival was held at the Minnesota State Fair Midway on May 29, 2016. It could be described as the best Soundset yet; between the new venue and the great lineup–plus the wonderful weather. The festival was put on by Rhymesayers; a Minneapolis record label, and was joined by people who live and breath this kind of music.
Soundset it set apart from other concerts and music festivals. It’s only about the music, and the music culture. The show isn’t super flashy, or way out there. It’s only the music, the artist, and the audience. Sway Calloway said “I work in the music business but I live for the culture.” And I think everyone who went to Soundset can agree, that they were all there for the love of music.
The show was kicked off by DJ’s: DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP, DJ Shannon Blowtorch, and a few others; who got the crowd hyped, starting the day off right. On the main stage, it began with Murs and 9th Wonder. Showcasing a very wide range of songs, anyone can find something that they like. Murs and 9th Wonder, rap about real world issues, the timely song “God Black/Black God”, has to do with the Black Lives Matter movement. “Lover Murs” was the best performance of the set because of its very personal and provocative subject matter.
The dynamic artist Anderson .Paak followed, putting on quite the show with his vibe of jazz and rock that he adds to his rap. His performance told a story, about how he started from the bottom, and now he’s landed here: playing at Soundset, and “it’s nothing short of amazing.”
Lizzo was up next, and represented every female there with her powerful message of self love. She owns the stage with her female crew, making a show of strong leadership and challenging a world and culture that is largely dominated by men. Lizzo and the dancers completely mesmerized the crowd. She ended her set of catchy–female empowerment songs with the last words: “we can take over the world.” A final gift to any female with a dream, the power to take control of their own life, to make it their own.
Atmosphere kicked off a top notch headliner offering that included the likes of: Future, Common, Prof and hometown favorites Doomtree. Atmosphere’s return home was a win with a performance that made people stop, take note, and listen. With such a love and passion inherent to the lyrics, music, and the execution of each song, the headlining acts seemed to get off just as much as their audience. Almost as if they weren’t the artist, something that most can’t accomplish because nowadays because not every artist writes their own music.
The Roots followed Atmosphere, changing the pace completely with their blues and jazz style of rap. When the Roots first started in the late 80s, they changed the sound of hip hop, and their performance at Soundset confirmed their prowess. A$AP Rocky had a strong finish to the night. He was able to switch from his own music to songs by Nirvana and House of Pain, without the audience missing a beat and still singing every word. A$AP is one of the most popular rappers out there today, and even though most people do know his music, he can put on a performance that even people who don’t know of him or his music can still enjoy.
While the topics and attitudes of the artists bounced around, the audience accepted every bit of it, making it so great. Soundset has yet to disappoint. Every year the lineups remain excellent and the crowds get bigger. With nine years under its belt, Soundset is becoming a Minnesota tradition.