May 27th, 2012
Caterbury Park in Shakopee, MN
Celebrating its fifth year of rap and hip-hop over Memorial Day weekend, Soundset outdid itself this year. With two main stages, a rock climbing wall, and flat screen televisions in the VIP area; Soundset spread it’s wings in the field of Canterbury Park and gave everyone just a little more elbow room, or should I say, sliding room on the muddy grounds. What’s a Soundset without a little mud?
Expecting two main stages to be at opposite ends of the field, festival go-ers were in awe at the set up Rhymesayers Entertainment created: two main stages, side-by-side. Genius! The East and West stages were separated by a simple staging area that held instruments, and mics. Having the side-by-side stages made for smoother transitions between artists, and extremely happy hip-hop fans. Between artists sets host, Brother Ali previewed raps from his upcoming album, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color. Macklemore gave the crowd chills when he performed “Wings”, only then returning to the stage as his alter-ego Sir Raven Bowie, ending his set with “And We Danced”.
Call them what you like: early birds, mega fans, festival go-ers who can hold their pee for an entire day; these dedicated folks lined the barriers with pride at the two main stages. While they were hoping for some up close and personal time with their favorite artists, others mingled with the grounds other attractions. Alongside the Familia Skateboard Showdown was a climbing rock, where you could challenge a opponent, or harness in, and climb on your own. “It’s peaceful and you can just feel the energy when you’re at the top.”, a man said to me as he de-harnessed. “You’re up there and like, SHIT! This is rap, man! I wanted to just hang out all day.” P.O.S brought on special guests, Mike Mictlan, and Astronautalis to perform new songs, while revealing his new album, We Don’t Even Live Here will be released on September 18th.
Familiar sights, the Custom Car Show, the giant graffiti wall, vendors, and P.O.S – (seriously, wherever you turned, there was P.O.S, hugging, giving autographs, and chilling with fans) were spread around the grounds of Canterbury Park. The Fifth Element stage housed exceptional L.A. female rapper, Medusa, Minneapolis duo, The Tribe and Big Cats, and Minneapolis’ newest transplant who has proven his hustle and has won the hearts of Minnesotans, Astronautalis. The Fifth Element stage is always by far the best place to fall in love with an artist you’ve never heard of. Between the hydraulic hop contest and the b-boy/b-girl finals folks wandered from vendor tent to the Rhymesayers Connect tent trying to catch a picture with their favorite artists.
Whether you came to see Danny Brown, Raekwon, or participate in the Familia skateboard showdown; one thing is certain Soundset Festival made it rain. Raekwon and Ghostface Killah made a few dreams come true, bringing crowd members on stage to rap with them. Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic gave the crowd old favorites mixed in with new songs from their project, Hail Mary Mallon. No one could have predicted the excitement that occurred during Lupe Fiasco’s set. The dark clouds rolled in and as Lupe made an announcement to be safe, the downpour started and tornado sirens went off. As the crowd of 20,000+ ran for the gates to their cars, the internet blew up reminding everyone that the after-party was still on. Later on at First Avenue Atmosphere performed his set that he wasn’t able to at Soundset. Underneath a truly epic Rhymesayers Entertainment disco ball, Aesop Rock, Evidence and Brother Ali joined Atmosphere in performing including Evidence’s “Late for the Sky”. The sold out after-party found fans literally rubbing elbows with Macklemore, P.O.S, Mike Mictlan, and other artists from the festival.