Last year as I headed to the campgrounds at Apple Valley, preparing to cover my first event for Upcoming Hip Hop, I felt a rush of excitement. The weather was cooperating and the fans were filling the open fields with tents, booze, and festivities. With veterans like Atmosphere, Flatbush Zombies and DJ Mustard sharing stages with up and coming stars in Torey Lanez, Logic, and Chance the Rapper, Summer Set was had a plethora of hip hop for most any style. The stars shone brightly that weekend, in the sky and on the stage, but there were a couple of local artists that produced their own light.
My introduction to the Minneapolis hip hop scene began with J Plaza. For the first time, I heard his music I knew there was a luminous future ahead. Taking over the Saloon Stage he would play hard banger after hard banger. Even though the crowd gathering was minimal, the power and energy on stage had those select fans getting one of the best performances of the weekend. One of the guest spots on J Plaza's set proved that he deserved a spot on the lineup this year.
Alongside these two is a slew of others taking over the festival. J Plaza and his group Free Wifi, consisting of Tha Rift and Daddy Dinero, join Dolo Harris in a one hour take over of the Saloon on Saturday Night. Chance York, Rich Garvey and duo Nazeem and Spencer Joles are must see acts sprinkled throughout the weekend at the Saloon Stage.
The biggest local on the bill, and perhaps in all of Minnesota hip hop, was a late add. Brother Ali, coming off a national tour with Atmosphere and deM atlaS and playing Minnesota's largest hip hop festival Sound Set, captivated me from the first time I heard his soulful voice. His latest album “All The Beauty In This Whole Life” was a much lighter and loving side from the writer of “Mourning In America.”
While Brother Ali may be the biggest Minneapolis artist on the bill, Why Khaliq is returning to show 'why' he is on the come up. Why Khaliq rocked out with J Plaza last year and returns to kick off the festival on the Main Stage. Having a large year with the release of a short film and a much-anticipated album on the way, Summer Set is a major step in the advancement of one of the best emcees in the state.
Summer Set brings together a diverse lineup from around the US, but it's clear from this lineup that Minnesota is preparing a takeover one festival at a time. Although the names mentioned should be enough to make any hip hop head drool, there will be plenty of surprise guests joining the stages throughout the weekend.