“They thought Hip-Hop was here last week [with the BET Hip-Hop Awards]. Hip-Hop is really here this week…” – Dres the Beatnik
“I have to say that of the seven years, this has to be my favorite artist lineup.” – Brian Knott, A3C Founder
ATLANTA, GA — Atlanta’s 2011 A3C Festival kicked off yesterday with minimal problems and high-powered sets from an array of the industry’s respected names. The event began at 3 PM around the city with assorted “Meet and Greets.” Although many fans undoubtedly couldn’t attend them due to work commitements, it allowed the many artists and fans who flew in to be occupied before the evening. With many of those artists new to the industry, A3C filled out the rest of the afternoon with information panels on business models to market and brand independent music (“Do For Self,” “What Is the Hook”). Those who made it were treated to a eclectic blend of advice from veteran artists (Malice of the Clipse, Dungeon Family’s Backbone) and executives representing DTP, Grand Hustle, Audible Treats, BET and Universal Music Group.
By 6 PM, the Masquerade venue had begun filling up as the first artists took the stage. Upon approaching the site, you’re greeted to an outside stage, this year dubbed the “Underground Express” that featured performances from Torae, El Da Sensei, J-Live, Boog Brown and Rapper Big Pooh. Despite many of the bigger names being confined inside, this stage was important in that it set the tone for the rest of the showcases. This group provided the energy needed to break the 9-5 work sluggishness many initially brought to the venue. Torae premiered new 9th Wonder and Pete Rock produced tracks from his forthcoming For the Record (November 1) album. The sultry Boog Brown let the uninitiated know the ladies could rock just as hard with a few selected tracks from her 2010, critically-acclaimed Brown Study LP.
Inside the Masquerade, the site had two parallel rooms on the bottom floor (A3C Pro Audio Room, Perfect Attendance) and one upstairs (Creative Loafing). In any given room there were freestyle battles, producer showcases and break sessions for the beat junkies. Legendary producer Diamond D of the Diggin in the Crates crew treated fans to a near one hour set of just playing his favorite 45, which ranged from notable samples (Jay Electronica, Mobb Deep, Pharcyde, Minnie Ripertona and Nas) to the highly obscure.
The only glaring issue with Diamond D’s work is that he started an hour late and completely destroying the listed performance schedules. Fans now had to guess when their favorites would be going on and check back regularly to avoid missing out.
Nonetheless, wherever you stayed you were treated to good music. Some of the more subdued, cerebral artists like Wu-Tang affiliate Bronze Nazareth struggled to translate their styles to a live atmosphere. Others with eccentric personalities like Homeboy Sandman had no problems whipping the crowd into a frenzy with frenentic rhymes and call and response chants. Even the Ying Yang Twins, who when announced for the event several weeks ago had many underground fans raising eyebrows, won over those who watched them perform their catchy hits. And those who preferred their Hip-Hop with a harder edge were treated to lyrical sets from Ultra Beast, Freeway and Random Axe.
Outside of one big delay, A3C amazingly managed to avoid much of the chaos that usually marks the first day of big festivals. Today promises to be even bigger with performances scheduled from 9th Wonder, Big K.R.I.T., Freddie Gibbs, Skyzoo, Cory Gunz Saigon, Pill and Jean Grae.
Tickets for the two remaing days of A3C can be purchased HERE.