To some, Minnesota is known for Prince, 10,000 lakes or the purple and gold of the Vikings, but to me it is the home of Rhymesayers Entertainment.
In Shakopee, Minn., Memorial Day weekend is a time for celebrating independent hip-hop. A 14-hour trek is a small task for four hip-hop fans eager to see some of the greatest acts in the game.
Soundset was a one-day festival on Sunday dedicated to supporting independent hip-hop. The festival was hosted by Rhymesayers Entertainment’s founders and local rap group, Atmosphere. The day featured heavyweights in the genre including Method Man and Redman and Wiz Khalifa.
People on the grounds at Canterbury Park formed lines for entry early Sunday morning, finishing their beverages in the parking lot before gaining admittance to the festival. The weather was fair, however, and clouds looming overhead seemingly ensured it would rain.
Soundset provided more than just a hip-hop fix for fans, it was a melting pot for urban culture, featuring a massive collaborative graffiti wall that was completed throughout the day. Other attractions included a custom car show and hydraulics contest, break dancing battles and live skateboarding.
VIP tickets granted access to a separate gated area, reasonably priced at $86 dollars for a festival of this magnitude. The VIP area included separate bathrooms, vendors with shorter lines, and bleachers facing the main stage.
BK-One, Solillaquists of Sound and People Under the Stairs kicked the day off on the main stage as thousands made their way through the gates.
Although a variety of artists played on the secondary Fifth Element stage, the assortment of favorite artists playing the main stage did not allot much time to view many of these up-and-coming acts.
The diverse duo of Grieves and Budo took the main stage at 1 p.m. Grieves spit rhymes and sang melodies while Budo demonstrated his versatility as an artist, taking a turn on guitar, piano, trumpet and turntables throughout the half-hour set.
Excitement in the crowd continued to build as Cage took the stage presenting to fans a first-hand look into his dark style of rhyme and metaphor.
The crowd in front of the main stage ballooned as Wiz Khalifa, one of the hottest new acts in the genre, smoked his way onto the stage.
Following an energy-packed performance by Freeway, longtime Rhymesayers affiliates Eyedea and Abilities took a turn.
Rain began to sprinkle down as Eyedea and Abilities finished their set free-styling about the weather, and nationally acclaimed artist Murs made his way to stage.
P.O.S. once again demonstrated the versatility of independent hip-hop, playing his hard-hitting set with a full band and donning a guitar mid-performance.
Hieroglyphics with Del tha Funkee Homosapien have been around more than a decade and were one of the acts I was most excited to see perform. The rest of the day featured so many amazing artists that I found myself sucked into the pack of thousands in front of the main stage.
Daniel S. from Chicago, Ill., was equally excited, having traveled with the same group of friends for a third-straight year to the festival.
“I was like 12 years old when these guys got huge,” he said eagerly as the crew took the stage. “That means you were like 5, Columbus!”
Clouds overhead did not faze the crowd in the slightest as hip-hop legends Method Man and Redman burst onto the main stage performing tributes to fallen artists Guru and Ol’ Dirty Bastard and reminiscing about the’90s.
“Remember the good old days when it didn’t matter what kind of car you drove, what kind of clothes you wore, or what size jewelry you had?” Method Man said with a laugh. “All that mattered was what you had to say in your music and who had the best weed.”
As they finished their set, the clouds began to disperse, allowing the sun to shine through as the long-awaited hosts from Atmosphere took the stage for the final performance of the evening.
As Atmosphere played, a rainbow formed above the stage prompting many to point in awe as they scuffled for their cameras to get a picture of the seemingly magical and certainly fitting end to an amazing day of independent hip hop.