As a festival, CMJ’s been the purveyor for the latest and hottest act’s for about 32 years. So, what better place than this year’s festival than to catch up on some new music? 2012’s marathon housed some of the greatest local and international acts, some of which everyone already knew and some that might stir up some big things for next year. Many current acts have garnered mainstream attention after being featured in CMJ’s events. Some of this year’s biggest hip-hop show’s, in particular, included Fader’s Fader Fort, Pitchfork’s unlicensed event, and various smaller, but equally dope events held in Soho’s Santos Party House or S.O.B’s. A young group of individuals ranging from late teens to folks in their late 20’s enjoyed each night’s festivities which included lots of drunk raging, vibing, and connecting.
Noisey’s Acid Alumni, held at Santo’s Party House, was one of the best shows during the marathon. The event featured Brooklyn posse Flatbush Zombies, Children Of The Night, Bodega Bamz, Underachiever’s and Haleek Maul. It was the Flatbush Zombies, The Tan Boyz, and World’s Fair who stole the night, while Underachievers and Haleek Maul cemented their presence on the scene. Heads wrapped around the corner waiting for hours outside of the small venue just to get a peek inside. Inside, folks rebel roused as the blaring music began to take over the sound system. Last year’s introduction of A$AP Rocky introduced a whole new wave of emcees in New York hip-hop, each one becoming more significantly different than the next.
Santo’s wasn’t the only venue that housed local NYC acts. SOB’s, on the 18th, showcased two very dope hip-hop shows including a mixture of both New York acts like Joey Bada$$ and the Pro Era, Smoke DZA, along with some more southern emcee’s Fat Trel and Big K.R.I.T. The same night also featured Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire, Travi$ Scott, Casey Veggies and Floridian trap rapper, Armstrong.
In the middle of the week, Brooklyn Vegan housed a special performance from R&B crooner Miguel and Mr. Muthafuckin’ Exquire amongst many more. Miguel gave a riveting set in between screams from an audience of drunk hipsters, while Exquire roused the crowd with his especially provocative lyrics. Additionally, Joey Badas$$’s performance at Pitchfork’s bash, distinguished him as an artist with much promise beyond the underground hip-hop scene.
Many of the week’s hip-hop based events at CMJ included performances from Kanye’s latest secret weapon, Travi$ Scott, who received mixed reactions at the marathon. At Gramercy theatre, Scott, seemed to have the crowd at full attention with the assist from King Chip. While at SOB’s earlier in the week, even though it was a thrilling set, New York fans seemed less than enthused with Mr. Scott. With an anticipated debut, Owl Pharoah, in the works, Scott could either transcend further into pop culture, or be rejected as an emcee with an all too familiar aesthetic.
Gramercy’s stage also featured Brooklyn band Phonny PPL, King Chip, Travi$ Scott and was headlined by Brooklyn’s Theophilus London who’s grown into quite a big star opposing the humble day’s of his early career. His set, filled with jams from his young but extensive catalog, showed just how much greater he’s gotten from touring around the world. London was both captivating and energetic.
If anything can be said about hip-hop at 2012’s CMJ Music Marathon, it’s that rap’s in a constant transitioning stage. The music is very experimental. On one side there’s a trap-rap sub-genre that contains both elements of southern crunk and hardcore rock aesthetics. Then there’s New York Indie hip-hop groups, which hearken the old spirit of the 90’s, while also taking the music to new leaps and bounds. Finally, you have acts like Theophilus London, who seem to take a pinch from it all. A lot of the act’s showcased, like World’s Fair, Joey Bada$$, and Flatbush Zombies are at the helm of a new regime of New York hip-hop. While new culture continues to brew, the city’s shown more progression during this festival, than in multiple years.
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