You'll always know festival season is truly upon us once Soundset rolls around Memorial Day weekend! Rhymesayers has done it once again with their annual one day hip hop festival that makes waves well past the Midwest. Continuing their streak of keeping things local, the day took place at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in Saint Paul.
Y'all already know Culture Piece was excited and ready for Soundset once we seen the lineup! The best part about Soundset is the variety of performers they have. As mentioned before, this is definitely a hip hop festival BUT it doesn't cater to just one generation. You're always sure to find the best artists of today as well as the legends and even some local musicians breaking out in the scene. This year, we were blessed to see Jaden Smith, Ice T, DJ Jazzy Jeff, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Tyler, the Creator, Wu Tang Clan, Migos, Logic & Erykah Badu grace the stages. Keep in mind, that's not even half the lineup!
If you've never been able to experience Soundset in all its glory before, you should know that its not only about the music. Everything that hip hop has inspired and touched gets to shine at the festival as well. Look around all you'll find car shows, bboys/bbgirls battling & a skate park filled with local skaters showing off their best.
In all my years attending and covering Soundset, this was honestly the best year yet! I was able to experience the festival in ways I wasn't previously able to thanks to the always generous team behind it all. While backstage, my contained excitement was being filled to the brim as I seen artists I've admired for years waltz by. Longtime Soundset host, Sway Calloway, lived up to his online personality of always being the encouraging and warm person he is. Headliner, Logic was also sure to stop for a few portraits and a chat with us on his way to the Main Stage! What truly left me in awe though, was watching the queen herself, Erykah Badu, slowly drive past us and stop at her trailer just feet from us. Pierre and I were lucky enough to be allowed to watch her model in a photo shoot she had after her breathtaking performance. The way she moved was effortless and natural in a way only she could pull off. Sorry if I'm fangirling here, but honestly, who wouldn't be feeling this way after an encounter as such?! Although no words were exchanged, there was no denying the energy in the air radiating from her. The legend lived up to her name in every sense of the word.
Now, on to the actual performances: the first performer on the Main Stage Culture Piece took notice to was of course our guy, Jaden! The living icon came on stage with more energy than I could've imagined! Performing hits from his recent album Syre and even a couple oldies & unreleased songs, he was the perfect warm up for what was to come later on. Moonwalking across the stage and hitting moves with every other syllable was present when he wasn't taking small breaks to give us words of encouragement.
"If anyone is telling you that you can't do something, tell them 'Jaden Smith believes in me" -Jaden Smith
Our beloved flower boy, Tyler, the Creator was a show stopper in his second appearance at Soundset! I was eager to see how he's changed since his first stop with Rhymesayers and I have to say, I'm not disappointed! Still rocking the leopard print hair, this ostentatious rapper couldn't help but be as carefree as possible during his performance. Keeping the inspiring messages going, he wasn't shy about letting the crowd know his thoughts on the stereotypes of Black people. I'm happy to say Tyler and I are in agreement when he speaks on not putting Black kids in a box of who America says they "should" be. Let us be fucking weird! It doesn't take away from our Blackness one bit!
The legends of the clan known as Wu Tang was everything we could've imagined and more! I mean, they kind of had to after the amount of chanting "WUTANG" that came from everyone during rapper Russ' leading performance. All of the hits were played with the same amount of vigor I'm sure they had in their early days. Y'all already know Minnesota lovin' Method Man was present on stage, giving the audience exactly what they needed! It was only natural that he wutang the blunt on stage for us!
The Queen, muva, reason we were all there, Erykah Badu was EVERYTHING! Everything. Starting off with an ethereal performance of Hello then moving into classics and even a little story telling was all I needed to fill my soul. I don't know how it's possible but she was even better live. The vocals were insane and I'm sure they could be heard miles away! Donned in an MCM top, jewelry draped everywhere and her current classic large hair, she made Pierre's job easy taking photos in the pit. I never thought Culture Piece would have the opportunity to capture a soul as such but thanks to Soundset, another goal was checked off the list.
Georgia trio Migos was another crowd favorite, giving us all of our favorite ad libs we've somehow seemed to commit to memory. These fashion and music gurus commanded attention performing a few of their hits and making sure to give us a confetti worthy ending before they were cut short.
The 10 hour evening concluded with headliner, Logic, who just four years prior had his first festival experience at Soundset! Always energetic and always for the people, he didn't disappoint giving us everything we needed in a headlining performance.
It seems like us Minnesotans wait forever for this one day that never lets us down, rain or shine (or heatwave in this year's case). Less than 365 until we're reunited again but if that seems like too long of a wait, feel free to take a walk down memory lane with our Soundset 2017 coverage to speed things up a bit. Until next time festivalgoers!