Review – Soundset 2017

By Desney Cody, Photo Credit Vito Ingerto

Fans and artists, local and internationally, all gathered together for the same reason for the 10th year in a row at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds; an event that started from the ground up and now is known as the largest hip hop festival in the country–Soundset.

Rhymesayers, a local Minneapolis hip hop record label, had started Soundset as an underground event for local MC’s, DJ’s and performers. It kept gaining more and more traction, moving from a warehouse to First Ave to the Metrodome parking lot, then to its final resting place at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Soundset attracts people from all over the country, with over 35.000 attendees every year as it continues to grow. The question has arisen if this major festival will become a weekend long event? A modern day Woodstock. Is Rhymesayers able to keep up with the ever changing music culture and climate of today, and continue to outdo themselves every year from now? Or are they to call it quits while they are on top?

The biggest thing that came out of this past Soundset was when Atmosphere, the founder of Rhymesayers, said that this was the last one. Confusion had spread as to if it was his last song of the set, his last performance at Soundset personally or if it is actually the last Soundset? This was such a huge shock because the Twin Cities is a very art centered city. We have great local artists here, and local turned global artists as well that call this place home. And Soundset, the only music and art festival we have that has been this huge and this close, may be coming to an end.

Soundset is a place where people of all sorts of backgrounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, genders, and etc., can come together for the same reason–this crazy and undying love and passion for music. It is a place where all should be, and are accepted and included. But for some reason, this year seemed a bit off. If it was either because of Atmosphere’s comment that was somewhat unclear, if the performers weren’t on par like usual, or if I had felt like I had been here multiples times before, and that nothing has changed.

The lineup for the 2017 Soundset was unexpected and very exciting; there were classics like T.I., E 40 and Ms. Lauryn Hill, with some newbies like Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ and Gucci Mane, along with all of the local acts as well. But once I was in the midst of everything, and was trying to get into the music and vibe with the crowd, I couldn’t. I don’t know if it had to do with the crowded space of the Midway at the State Fair Grounds, the amount of people that were there, the weather or if it was the artists and performers? All of which are valid. However, despite weather conditions, space or capacity, I should be able to groove to and with the artists. None of them, except maybe T.I., could actually get the whole crowd vibin’ and groovin’ with them. It was hard to get off to the music and if you felt like you could personally, you were the only one around doing it. However, delays and technical difficulties are a given and things happen, and it may put a damper on the crowd but by the time the next act comes on, the audience should be able to jump right back in.

In the middle of the day, I was able to take a break from the heat and the crowds to chill with a couple of artists not from the local scene. The first was a woman that goes by the name of Linafornia, had come all the way from Los Angeles, California, and this was her first time at Soundset and in Minnesota. Lina had explained that creating music for her came somewhat natural once she figured out that was what she was meant to be doing. Born and raised in the hectic city with music running through the veins of L.A., going to shows and creating connections to really enable her to do what she does best was not the biggest struggle that some may make it out to be. Pulling inspirations from Flying Lotus, Madlib and Erykha Badu, Lina is able to find the motivation to keep going and to get out of bed every morning, and will do so until she has realized that she is satisfied with her body of work and can live off it happily.

The second artist I had met was Black Liquid. He is a MC, producer, educator, radio show host, performer and inspirer from Richmond, Virginia. My short and sweet conversation I had had with him left me feeling humble and inspired to work even harder everyday. Black is someone that is no stranger to struggle, pain and loss, like most of us, and that is the center of all of the music he writes. “I am just like you. Getting to know me, you are also getting to know yourself,” says Black. He just wants to share his story with everyone by creating his art, instead of creating a problem by sitting around and complaining about the pain he may feel. “Everything sucks because it is supposed to,” is the one piece of advice that Black would give to anyone, either if they were perfecting their art and skill, or working a 9-5 job in an office. When someone has a lot of good things going for them and a lot of fans, it is hard to not let that go to the head, but Black knows that it is important to remain humble; “If you lose something, you’ll gain another, but it can be taken away in a second,” he says, that is why it is so important to maintain a positive attitude and put in positive effort always.

It was very humbling speaking with these artists, as well as seeing how many people support music and art in such an extreme way. Music is the best form of art that we have. And the Twin Cities is truly grateful to have such a strong following and support of it but also very talented acts coming out of the area of all sorts of genres. Because of all of this, Soundset has been as successful as it is, and it’d be sad to see a staple such as this festival, go away. But the love, passion and motivation to keep going and to keep creating like we do, will never fade.

Check out the Rift Official Soundset Slideshow for more awesome shots courtesy Vito Ingerto: