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.