National Heavyweights & Local Faves Gather for Soundset 2010 [Exclusive Coverage]
Shakopee, Mn. -- As anyone who's set foot in Minneapolis or St. Paul is well aware, the Twin Cities hip-hop community are a loyal bunch. Just how devoted are they? Well, on Sunday, May 31, nearly 20 thousand locals hopped in their cars – or one of a massive fleet of buses chartered for the occasion – to drive out to the suburb of Shakopee for Rhymesayers' third annual Soundset festival. Though the distance was a common cause for grumbling, no one really seemed to mind venturing 20-30 miles from home to see a lineup of their local faves, as well as some prominent out-of-town guests rock the stage at Festival Field, a grassy expanse across the parking lot from the Canterbury Park racetrack.
Doors opened at 11:00 AM, and the day promptly got to a running start with sets by BK-One and DJ Anton. While the early acts attracted a healthy audience, other attendees kept occupied by checking out such attractions as a live graffiti painting wall, a custom car show, and a live DJ/B-Boy tent.
While main-stage performers like Solillaquists of Sound and People Under the Stairs did their part to get things moving, a hands-down highlight of the early afternoon was Booth favorite Mike Dreams' performance on the smaller Fifth Element stage. Backed by full live band The Credentials, Dreams ripped through energetic renditions of cuts off his acclaimed Dreamer's Poetry LP.
Soon after, the crowd converged on the main stage to catch Pittsburgh phenom Wiz Khalifa. The air in Festival Field took on an familiar odor as the indie rapper took fans on a whirlwind tour through his weed-crazy repertoire, including several tracks off his recent OJ and Kush mixtape.
In the late afternoon, the Fifth Element stage was home to two of the day's most exciting performances. After an energetic set by West Coast buzzmaker Fashawn, Booth favorite Yelawolf hit the stage; though the audience seemed largely unfamiliar with Yela's left-of-center style, it was a matter of minutes before the Alabama native had the crowd vibing out to his jittery, adrenaline-pumping brand of Trunk Muzik.
Despite gathering clouds and intermittent rainshowers, the party kept rocking throughout the early evening, when sets by Rhymesayers emcees Toki Wright and Brother Ali and an increasingly eccentric array of Left Coasters – Oakland icons Hieroglyphics, L.A. native Busdriver, and anticon twosome Themselves – paved the way for what would be the night's most raucous performance: at 6:30, Northeastern heavyweights Method Man & Redman took the main stage for a lengthy set drawn from their Blackout! and Blackout 2 LPs (as well as a few Wu classics, and a rousing rendition of ODB's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya"), tantalizing their devotees with promises of a third entry in their acclaimed series of collaborative albums – as well as, potentially, a sequel to the fan-beloved How High.
Meanwhile, one of Minne-ap's fastest-rising stars did her best to make herself heard over Meth & Red's booming grooves. As the night grew later, Doomtree singer/femcee Dessa serenaded a smaller but equally devoted audience with cuts off her critically-acclaimed full-length, A Badly Broken Code .
Appropriately, Soundset 2010 ended with a whole-hearted celebration of everything Twin Cities. Backed by a live band, rapper Slug and producer Ant of locally-revered underground duo Atmosphere brought the crowd together for a low-key set that served as a fitting epilogue to a full day's worth of region-crossing beats and rhymes.