Last week, Atlanta’s sixth annual A3C (All 3 Coasts) Festival returned to entertain and educate Hip-Hop fans with three days worth of music, panels and exhibitions. Every year, the A3C organizers strive to top their previous incarnations. For 2010, they put together a staggering list of 200 plus artists spread out over five different stages at the city’s Masquerade venue.
The first day was highlighted by Red Bull Music Academy’s stage, which hosted performances from Skyzoo, Buckshot, Jean Grae, 9th Wonder and Murs. But outside of the actual music, what made the first day special was how accessible the artists made themselves to media and fans alike. While going between different stages, you were prone to bump into any of the performing artists. And of course anytime a group of Hip-Hoppers get together, you can always expect a debate to break out regarding the state of the culture, who’s wack, and how we can move forward.
Jean Grae and 9th Wonder were especially accommodating in the area of Hip-Hop discussion/debate. Both arrived hours before their actual sets and spoke for nearly an hour each on their future projects and thoughts on today’s Hip-Hop. 9th Wonder revealed some surprising news, such as the fact he’s submitted several beats for Nas’ upcoming projects. Later, he spoke at length on stage about his career and approach to music. Jean Grae has always been a irrepressible spirit, and gave her thoughts on everyone from Waka Flocka and Nicki Minaj to Jay Electronica and Mos Def. She made it point during the informal talk to criticize when warranted, but also defend when her peers delivered quality work.
“When I like my ignorance, I like my ignorance really ignorant. [But] not in a Waka Flocka way,” Grae quipped. “I can’t really enjoy that because it’s really just nursery rhymes. I see why it works; I get it, its nursery rhymes. I like this song already; I’ve heard it a lot. [I like Nicki Minaj] on certain things, and other times not so much… [But] she kinda killed that [“Monster”] verse.”
For an opening night, the performances were very diverse. Downstairs from 9th Wonder, Buckshot, Jean Grae and company, the venue carried specialty stages like underground West Coast (Pac Div, Rocky Rivera etc.), Detroit (Marv Won, Kodac etc.), Women in Hip-Hop (Lyric Jones, Miz Metro, Rita J etc), and the label Mello Music Group (Trek Life, Boog Brown etc.). In addition, producers got their chance to have their work critiqued by established, industry professionals like DJ Toomp, The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and Needlz.
By the end of the first night, the performances had extended well past 2AM.
Punchline, Fokis, Senor Kaos, 4IZE at A3C Festival, Day 1
Jean Grae & 9th Wonder “My Story, #8, High”
Trek Life “Ready to Live, As the World Turns”
Day two was marked by nice array of informative panels for fans and artists alike. Artists looking to increase their online presence could check out discussions on social networking and media. And there were several mixers at the venue to allow journalists, producers, and emcees to link up and exchange their work.
Musically, older Hip-Hop fans were in for a treat. There was an event called “Red Bull 45’s,” where Diamond D, Evil Dee, DJ Scratch, Rob Swift, and Applejac took turns trying to outdo each other by spinning the favorites from their 45 collections. There were some rare ones that got dropped, and others that popped the crowd because they were recognizable, like Dionne Warwick’s vocals on “You’re Gonna Need Me (used on J Dilla’s “Stop”).”
One of better showcases that day came courtesy of the Bay Area’s stage, which mixed new (DaVinci, Moe Green) and established talent (Exile, Mistah F.A.B.). Exile is well-known for his production work, but made sure to display his fancy handiwork on the MPC with remixes of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and some original tracks.
Mistah F.A.B. has no problems adjusting his content to fit the non-mainstream audience. He used Reflection Eternal’s “The Blast” and Soul of Mischief’s “’93 Til Infinity” to break the ice and to show off his talent as a freestyler. There was no semblance of Hyphy, just straight spitting that even those unfamiliar with his work could rock with.
Of course with a festival this size, making sure everyone got their proper shine was a persistent issue. Because some of the stages were outside, a city ordinance was in place to make sure the music wrapped before midnight. This placed those artists on a strict timetable regarding their sets. If you were late or about to run over, your mic was promptly cut off. Homeboy Sandman had one such problem and had to sprint through his songs. Luckily, he was around the whole three days and got to make it up on another stage.
The last day was loaded with workshops, panels and additional stages from 2Dopeboyz, Okay Player and AllHipHop.com. Between the latter three, fans were treated to sets from Reks (w/ Statik Selektah), Torae, Tanya Morgan and J-Live. Unfortunately, these stages were outside, and AllHipHop.com’s last performers, Kidz in the Hall & Killer Mike, became pressed for time and had to cuts their sets to just 2-3 songs to make the city’s noise curfew.
Reks & Statik Selektah “Self-Titled”
Reks, Statik Selektah, Joe Scudda & JFK “Say Goodnight, Drunken Nights”
Inside the Masquerade, there were no such problems. In one room, you could hear Emilio Rojas or the Artifacts spitting. In another you could sit and get a tutorial on the new Scratch Pro software for DJs. To close out the evening, Camp Lo and Rhymefest manned the main stage. The Bronx duo satisfied their fans by performing roughly half the joints from their memorable debut Uptown Saturday Night. Rhymefest’s affable personality and freestyle skill kept the crowd engaged, and he ended the night with a passionate plea for Hip-Hop fans to add “political involvement” as another element to the culture.
For only $33, A3C gives fans an unparalleled Hip-Hop event. No review can truly do justice to a festival that carries over 200 artists, so mark your calendars for October 6-8 2011 and experience the phenomenon for yourself.
Rapper Big Pooh feat. Joe Scudda & Chaundon “Plastic Cups”
Camp Lo “Lumdi, Krystal Karrington, Park Joint”
Camp Lo “Coolie High, Rockin’ It”
Rhymefest “Brand New, Top Billin’ Freestyle”
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