Photos by Matt O Instagram.com/BoardinOgilvie
Last weekend (5-29-16) Soundset hosted it's 9th annual hip-hop festival and I was lucky enough to get a press pass. This was my fifth time attendeding but first time I got to bring my camera. I knew I could expect great performances, good people, and a festival that pushes the hip-hop culture forward but what I did not expect was it becoming the largest hip-hop festival in the world. I guess it makes sense because it got to big for the last venue that held 30,000 people.
Soundset's new venue, Minnesota State Fair Grounds in St. Paul, Minnesota turned out to be a perfect location for the festival. One of the things that I noticed throughout the day is that every single person attending had a smile on their face. I didn't see a single negative altercation during the entire festival either. That is the kind of vibe Soundset, Rhymesayers, and the workers produce and one I support. Soundset and Rhymesayers also push the hip-hop culture forward by featuring rappers, DJs, b-boys & b-girls, and graffiti artists as well as a car show and skate competition. Where else in the world can you find this type of event? If you know of one, please let me know.
Within seconds of walking through the gates, I could already feel the good vibes flowing, hear bass booming from the main stage, see fans taking pictures with last years graffiti, and people admiring the cars. Soundset could possibly be the best place on earth for hip-hop fans. There is a reason they are so successful year after year and it's because they built it from the ground up with good, talented people. I have to give a major shout-out to everyone that helped put the festival together because without them this wouldn't be possible. I know how much work goes into a small event, I can't even imagine the time and effort put into one this size. You can count on me going back next year for the sixth time whether I get another press pass or not. Since Soundset had so much to offer, I am going to post my favorite pictures in sections below starting with the artists then moving on to other parts of the festival.
A$AP Rocky headlined Soundset this year and brought the mob with him. Him and his team were filming a special video so the photographers weren't able to get up front until his second song. From what I could see from the side, he was standing up on the DJ booth rapping one his popular intros. The crowd went wild as soon as he appeared on stage and didn't stop until the festival was over. My favorite moment of his set was when he looked out to the crowd and smiled. It must have been a beautiful site because he didn't stop smiling until his set was over. He even shot fake money into the crowd with A$AP Yams (RIP) face on it which the fans seemed to enjoy.
Before Future came out, the crowd started fill up near the main stage. His DJ played a few tracks to get the fans jumpin' before the superstar rapper came out. The second Future stepped on stage, the front part of the crowd started to go crazy; girls were screaming and guys had their hands in the air. Since I'm not a huge Future fan, I didn't know what to expect from the other fans. It turned out, a lot of the people there seemed to know his tracks and engaged with him throughout his entire set.
This was one of the performances I didn't want to miss. Seeing The Roots live at Soundset is definitely buck-list material for any hip-hop head. Every single member onstage was incredible. They each had their chance to shine in front of the crowd of 31,000+ and shine they did. I'm at a loss for words when typing this because you had to be there to experience the epicness.
Atmosphere was probably my favorite performance of the entire festival. I say probably because it's hard to compare the different acts that hit the stage; Each artist brought their own unique vibe to the show. It was the eighth time I've seen them perform and I was mesmerized like it was the first. Slug is able to control the crowd like a true emcee and it helps that half of the people there knew every word to every song.
Another legend I got to see perform for the first time was Common. His set was very inspiring and professional. This dude has won Grammys, Emmys, etc. all while still being one of the dopest hip-hop artists to ever grab a mic. It was crazy being two feet away from him.
As much as I want to say Atmosphere was my favorite, I think Prof stole the show. I've seen Prof a handful of times so I knew what to expect when he hit the stage so I wasn't surprised when I saw a water-trampoline floating across the crowd with him rapping on top of it. This was a highlight for me because I have never seen an artist do something like this at a festival. He had the biggest smile on face while he did it which proved he enjoyed it as well.
Machine Gun Kelly
MGK had one of the wildest sets of the day. He approached the show with a rockstar mentality by drinking whiskey and smoking weed on stage as well as climbing to the top of the stage and hanging upside down. While he was hanging his left leg slipped out and he almost fell but ended up keeping his balance. His hard-hitting beats and fast raps had the crowd wanting more after his set ended. He was one of my favorite artists to capture all day.
Danny Brown was the first artist I checked out on the main stage and I'm glad I did. Even though he hit the stage around 1pm, there was already 15,000 people there to watch his performance. If you know anything about Danny Brown, you know he has turn-up tracks that are going to make the crowd go wild. The fans were full of energy and jumped around as he performed a few of his popular tracks ending with "Dip".
Before I headed over to the main stage, I checked out the Fifth Element tent. While there I caught two artists that I have been wanting to see live for about a year now. The FE tent's lineup was packed with lyrical artist from A-F-R-O to Aesop Rock to Doomtree. I could see why fans didn't leave that tent all day.
As I wandered around Soundset I took pictures of the surroundings, people, and other random stuff so you can get an idea of what is all going on at the largest hip-hop festival in the world. Sway was the host on the main stage, Heather B was the host for the Fifth Element stage, they had a ferris wheel, and a bunch of other cool stuff. That's another reason why I love this festival so much. The only part that I wish I would have seen more of were the b-boys and b-girls.
If you are a hip-hop head, you know that there are 5 elements of hip-hop; rapping, DJing, breaking, knowledge, and spray-painting. And you can't have a hip-hop festival without all of them. Not only did Soundset display the paintings from previous years, they had new graf artists spraying live for the fans to watch.
Who doesn't like decked-out cars.
I stopped by the open skate for ten minutes and snapped a few pics.
Pictures can only begin to tell Soundset's story. You will have to come experience it live if you really want to see what they are about because some moments are too real to be captured on camera.