ATLANTA, GA — Day two of A3C 2012 is now in the books. I’m willing to bet there’s many still recovering; when I left the main Masquerade venue at well past 2 a.m., there were still emcee freestyle cyphers and DJ competitions going on.
On Thursday, the events at the Masquerade were confined indoors, as the outside stage had not been opened up. Last night, all four stages were in play, ranging from a live broadcast of the Combat Jack show inside to the IHipHop outside stage that featured the likes of Chino XL, Torae, Prodigy and Freeway. The two aforementioned stages are where I split my time. Due to the other site locations that featured shows with the Dungeon Family, Trae the Truth, Thurz and others, The Masquerade was crowded but not as heavy as last year’s festival.
I arrived in time to catch Prodigy’s 15-minute set. With such a compact time and being solo, Prodigy’s performance was a short litany of his best efforts: “I Shot Ya,” Keep It Thorough” and “Hold You Down” were among the standouts. And of course what a Mobb performance be without the appropriate ending, “Shook Ones, Part II.” Hey Havoc, y’all need to stop the BS and reunite.
Running back inside, I missed DJ Drama’s Q&A on the Combat Jack show, but got the pleasure of hearing Just Blaze and Killer Mike discuss the politics of Mike’s R.A.P. Music album, how to create positive movements in Hip-Hop and the definition of “black excellence.” Above anything, both men stressed the importance of not just networking for superficial perks, but creating lasting partnerships with like-minded individuals. While Mike tackled the political and social implications for black people by utilizing this philosophy correctly, Just balanced it out by focusing on how it could be applied to the music industry (using Saigon’s career as an example).
Upstairs, the homegirl Boog Brown was working some “magic” on the Red Bull Soundstage. Those of you who’ve read this site over the past few months are familiar with her skill. Those who aren’t, get initiated.
Running back outside, Nipsey Hussle was finishing up his set with his “This Planes” track. Just from gauging crowd reactions over the last day, there aren’t that many West Coast fans that made the trip out. Nonetheless, Nipsey’s style is appealing enough that the crowd was won over. Bringing out Houston’s Trae the Truth (whose numerous guest spots ensures he’ll be working hard all weekend) didn’t hurt either.
Chino XL brought out the lyric fanatics, especially with his “Deep Cover” version of “Naah!” and a phenomenal, somber closing rendition of “Wordsmith.” It’s remarkable to consider that Chino dropped his debut in 1995 and is still operating a high lyrical level approaching 20 years later. You could tell from some of the faces in the crowd that his style was a little too dense for some, but the respect for the obvious work he’s put into his craft was definitely there.
After a nice, quick energy-building set from Freeway that featured “Roc da Mic” and “What We Do,” the outside stage was finished off by the Chef Raekwon. Unlike Big Boi yesterday, who chose to just handle his verses from Outkast’s catalogue, Rae was ambitious in trying to also rhyme the verses of other Wu members and emcees on classic joints like “Verbal Intercourse,” “Criminology,” “House of Flying Daggers” and “John Blaze.” This came with mixed results, as all the hard work clearly had Rae out of breath at times. Not that it mattered; just hearing those vintage tracks with Wu royalty present had the crowd filling in the bars when needed.
Because of bad parking, most fans elected not to try and travel across town to check out The GZA, who was performing ALL of Liquid Swords in its entirety. Thankfully, GZA gave us a surprise treat in stopping by for a quick drop of “Shadowboxin'” before leaving for the Terminal West stage.
Legends Kool DJ Red Alert and DJ Teddy Ted were on hand for a special DJ competition entitled “Needle to the Record” at the Guitar Center Stage. The showcase had some classic turntablism from the aforementioned two and some new school, amazing scratching from guys like DJ Shiftee.
My evening was finished off back upstairs at the Red Bull Soundstage with The Beatnuts and Alkaholiks, recently united to form the supergroup The Liknuts. Like the name implies, you get all the adult humor, lyricism and thupping beats you’d expect from these veterans. Juju looked to be getting drunk throughout the show, and went through a few lyrical brain farts on those older Beatnut tracks. Nonetheless, it was an overwhelmingly festive atmosphere. While the Beatnuts are more laidback, the Liks’ Tash and J-Ro are all energy, providing a great contrast.
Both groups have always stated they’ve been overlooked and not given due credit for their contributions to Hip-Hop culture. Seeing them live, it’s hard to argue. You won’t find their songs when you look back on Billboard charts, but their catalogue is chock-full of classic cuts. If you forgot, tracks like “Daaam,” “Make Room,” “Reign of the Tec,” “Watch Out Now” and “No Escapin This” served to be excellent remainders. The only question now is when is that Liknuts album dropping?
That’s all from Day 2. The finale tonight will have the likes of Twista, Tech N9ne, Devin the Dude, Mello Music Group, Jamla Records, Slum Village and many more. Tickets can still be picked up at www.A3Cfestival.com.