Soundset was a hot one this year! This year’s edition scorched the Minnesota State Fairgrounds both with heat emanating from the stage(performances) and the sun(90 degree heat)! We arrived at the gates ready to take in all of the hip hop goodness that awaited us. Once inside, our crew split off eager to address our initial priorities; Jamil The DJ, Nadine and Tony headed for the Main Stages, while Dannyel, Rayboomin and myself checked out the VIP and Media areas. Once that was out of the way I had to get food. It’s Fair food damnit so you know I was gonna indulge! My first stop was for deep fried cheese curds. On the way there I caught the tail-end of Rapsody’s set. One of my favourite rappers. Happy to notice that she’s finally receiving the respect of the masses. See Dannyel’s snaps for some touching interactive moments with fans.
Jaden Smith’s set was eye-opening for me. I wasn’t too familiar with his discography but after experiencing his high-energy set I became a fan. Of course I knew Icon was a banger but after seeing & hearing the crowd react to his on-stage performance it was evident he had everyone on his vibe. Note to self: learn to do the moonwalk better; girls may scream everytime I do it(or not).
Young M.A surprisingly was scheduled for the smaller Atmosphere and Friends Stage. It made for a jam-packed environment. Didn’t mind it at all. Loved her NYC swagger and enthusiasm. Speaking of which, she reminded the crowd to ensure we partake in acts that we’d have to explain to our young kids… And yes she brought attention to the latter part! So I hope the parents in attendance passed Sex Ed class and did a good job explaining! Her Quiet Storm freestyle and OOOUUU were highlights.
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie truly connected with the Main Stage crowd. His tracks, My Shit, Drowning, Still Think About You, Beast Mode and Jungle all set it off for the crowd. He’s definitely a star now. It’s easy to see why. His easy sing-rap flow, catchy hooks and positive attitude are all factors that have convinced the REFRESH crew that he’s here to stay for a while.
Freshly baked choco-chip cookies from legendary Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar were calling my name during Russ’s set. I was solo dolo so I couldn’t justify buying a big bucket. It was my first time having them and I could immediately tell they were popular because a couple Soundsetters “kindly” asked me for a free cookie or 2… Sway introduced Russ as an artist to reckon with, and 2 billion streams can’t be wrong right?! I could hear the crowd was quite responsive to Russ. He repeatedly asked if fans were there just to see him, a lot of them definitely were it seems! Especially the ladies. By this time, the sun’s heat was really taking it’s toll on some; it was common to see a person pass-out from dehydration once in a while. The lineup to the water stations were extremely long. Bring water people! Shout out to Rayboomin’ who stood in one spot for 7+ hours! People passed-out left & right, some literally left, but he wasn’t gonna miss a second from his prime viewing area. The elevated VIP platform was a smart move by Soundset!
Midway through Russ’s set chants of “WU-TANG! WU-TANG! WU-TANG!” could be heard periodically. I swear I could detect some sourness from Russ. Or maybe he wasn’t. If you were there, let us know your thoughts. Wu was gonna be a highlight for me regardless. They didn’t disappoint. I nearly shed a tear during Can It Be All So Simple. It was a moment of pure hip hop heaven! Mr. Meth was noticeably absent in the beginning of their set due to a late flight but he soon appeared. You could tell when he did. The ladies screamed. Classic cuts C.R.E.A.M., Method Man, Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit, Triumph, Gravel Pit had the entire spot head noddin’ non-stop! For myself, this set alone was worth the price of admission. Method Man ended their set with an enthusiastic “F the Timberwolves!” Gotta love ‘ball allegiances.
As much as I dig Erykah Badu, my hangriness can get the best of me. So as you can already tell, her set provided me with another food break. I was feenin’ for Mexican grub so it was a relief when I found the Chicks on Wheels food truck. Avocado Tacos was the call and they didn’t disappoint! Tempura avocado with pineapple pico and lettuce satisfied my hunger. Her set seemed to carry on for longer than usual but I enjoyed the soothing mellow sounds.
Tyler The Creator was his usual energetic self. He bounced, he pranced, he ran, he yelled, and made full use of the stage’s real estate in fun fashion. I’ve always enjoyed his performances. One of my favourite highlights of the festival was when Erykah Badu came out to peform Kali Uchis’s parts in See You Again. That was awesome. Note to self #2: buy a pair of neon green shorts for the summer.
The 3 aMigos, were underwhelming as perfomers. Yes they “performed” a slew of hits but I could tell some weren’t really into their set. On the flipside, many were. I didn’t have high expectations for their set and was gonna enjoy it regardless. And I did. Until they got cut-off. Ha. They had started late and the city by-laws have a noise restriction going past a certain time so Soundset wasn’t gonna take any chances with getting major fines.
I had some doubt as to Logic being the last headliner. But that doubt was erased once he stepped onstage. The crowd truly connected with him. He is nearly a master of “crowd control” aka engaging the crowd; an important aspect of live hip hop performances. I say nearly, because perhaps he utilized it a tad more than what was optimal. But who really cares about my opinion? I embarssingly remember his segues/monologues/chats/whatever-you-wanna-call-them more than the specific tracks he performed such as the epic moment when he had the 30,000+ in attendance sing Happy Birthday to Karen. Lucky fan! But it was moments like these that helped define what Soundset meant to me this year and years past; it’s a festival filled with performers that genuinely connect with their crowds on a personal-like level. This is what makes the Soundset festival experience a powerful one. It’s a reflection of how it came to be, from it’s humble homegrown beginnings to it’s current big-yet-still-intimate-enough state.
See y’all in 2019!