Photographs by Khammy Phanthavong
Review by Ryan Reyes
We arrived at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota early in the afternoon to take in everything that Soundset Festival could throw at us. But before that, we had to accept the fact that it would be wet all day. Nonetheless, Mother Nature couldn’t dampen our collective spirit. The sold-out festival had over 30,000 attendees head-noddin’ throughout the day. For the uninitiated, Soundset is a 1-day hip-hop festival that has been held annually in Minnesota since 2007. It’s an all-encompassing festival that features 2 stages for performances by music artists, a b-boy competition, a custom car show, a skate demo, a graffiti showcase and numerous food, clothing and craft vendors. To sum it up it is one motherfunkin’ dope time (and yes there was much of that being smoked everywhere)!
The headliners this year were a diverse mix of big names, respected veterans, up & comers and popular local acts: J.Cole, Ice Cube, Big Sean, Ludacris, Yelawolf, Atmosphere, Dilated Peoples, Logic, Clockwork Indigo, Aesop Rock, Dessa, deM atlaS.
That’s just the mainstage.
The Fifth Element Stage had these stellar acts lined-up: Brother Ali, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, Vic Mensa, Hopsin, Smif-N-Wessun, Son Real and more! The Essential Elements Tent housed the b-boy battles and featured legendary DJ’s Babu and Jazzy Jay earlier during the day. You can’t go wrong for a mere $70!
The mainstage had its moments. Yelawolf with his smouldering stage-presence. Logic with his lyrical energy. He’s gained a new fan in myself. Ludacris loved the diversity of the crowd. Heck, he even offered to take 3 women on tour with him since he apparently had 3 empty seats on his jet. Personally I enjoyed his entire set. Such a large catalogue filled with hits. Big Sean felt at home in the rain; some drizzle, no-shirt, no problem. Luckily I arrived right on time for Ice Cube‘s set after a trek from the Great Wall of Porta-Potties. His intro video was hilarious! He had more energy than most of the youngsters. I’m glad Soundset showed him the love that he deserves. I admit Outkast’s cold reception at last year’s Coachella did cross my mind when I found out about Ice Cube’s inclusion. But this is a hip-hop festival, after all.
Let there be no doubt that the most popular act of the night was J.Cole. Although it was raining for the majority of the day, the crowd was at its largest and most energetic during his set. The anticipation was building. Security at the front of the mainstage were seen pulling out numerous fans from the crowd for their own safety well before his set started. Fan favourite tracks performed were: “Wet Dreamz”, “Apparently”, “Crooked Smile”, “Power Trip”, “In The Morning” and “Lights Please”. An endless sea of hands-in-the-air and the chorus of thousands rappin’ and singin’ his lyrics made everything feel surreal. And he is for real. After an excellent 2014 (2014 Forest Hills Drive debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 and a Grammy win) I forsee much more success for Jermaine Cole in the near future.
Next year Soundset will be back in the Twin Cities. The new site will be the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. This is an exciting change of venue that most will appreciate. Rhymesayers, Soundset, y’all done did it again. We dragged our tired bodies through the mud and grass. The sun had set. We were all wet. But it was all worth it. As Ice Cube said earlier that day “Today was a good day.”
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