The gates of Canterbury Park opened at 11am sharp to hordes of eager hip-hop fans. The Soundset Music Festival is an exclusively hip-hop music festival created by local music label Rhymesayers eight years ago, an affordable event that draws nationally acclaimed talents as well as local acts. The Rhymesayers event is unique in its focus on urban music and great bargain price (this year it’s $50-$70 for a lineup of the likes of Ludacris, J. Cole, Ice Cube, and Big Sean, just to name a few).
This year, performances were unofficially baptized by Amir Sulaiman’s opening delivery of “Come to the Hills,” a poignant spoken word addressing race, economics, politics, and police brutality. In the Fifth Element tent, Minneapolis rapper Manny Phesto proved that soulful samples can rock a crowd too, spitting conscious fire over signature soul beats. Producer Mike the Martyr joined him onstage for “The Account,” a track from Manny’s last album, “South Side Looking In.”
Doomtree member Dessa was another local act that shook crowds, performing tracks from their new album “All Hands” as well as songs from her recently dropped solo album. In intervals singing, chanting, and rapping, she hypnotized the crowd with folksy metal and plenty of intense eye contact. Vince Staples was a Molotov cocktail in Timberlands, spitting singles from his last EP. Soundset 2015 was packed with many strong newcomers, from deM Atlas to Father, and Vince had the crowd ready to explode in a fiery performance on the Fifth Element stage.
The Minnesota Senate Building, nearly half completed and almost closed in, should be open by the end of the year, according to the Senate’s project manager, Vic Thorstenson, on an exclusive tour that included the Daily Planet on Friday, May 22. “The Republicans got a lot of mileage – and maybe picked up a few seats – by attacking us for this project,” Thorstenson said, “but they’re happy to be moving into updated offices.”
Thorstenson and Greg Huber, project manager for Mortenson Construction, led about a dozen Senate staffers and Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, on the tour of the controversial building site.
First Avenue was packed on Saturday night with a lively pre-Soundset bash. DJ Fundo, Blvck Spvce, Bobby can rap, Fashawn, and Prof provided the jams at the official Rhymesayers Soundset Before Party. DJ Fundo hosted the night and kicked a diverse mix of old and new school, from vintage A Tribe Called Quest to Bobby Shmurda.
It’s hard to believe that nineteen Art-A-Whirls have gone by since the first one, in 1996. I almost missed that first Art-A-Whirl, but my state representative, Diane Loeffler, suggested I go and maybe do some videotaping. So I went out on the last day of that first Art-A-Whirl and asked a few people who they were and what was going on.