The true school hip-hop antenna was standing at full attention as I made my way down Pennsylvania Avenue. The melody and even a few of the lyrics could be heard emanating from the band currently performing from within the inner confines of the Made in America Festival, which was first brought to life by a crew from the “Boogie Down Bronx.”
In the throes of a battle with a $1,000 purse on the line against their arch rivals, the Cold Crush Brothers, Water Bed Kev of the Fantastic Romantic 5 posed a question to one of his partners in rhyme, Dota Rock: “Are you ready to win the g?”
Dota Rock replied, “The gusto is going home with me.” So it went down the line.
Hearing that provided extra motivation to hasten entry into the venue. You had to see who had the gumption and knowledge to pay homage to the forefathers of the culture who, it can be argued, laid the foundation of this very festival. Within a few minutes, the answer was revealed when the beat dropped for the next selection, “The Grind Date.” It couldn’t have been more obvious who the group was: De La Soul. It was that reverence to the history of hip-hop’s origin in addition to being major contributors to the expansion of ideas and ideals that is needed to diversify the artists and audience that the culture needs to grow. In a weekend that featured sets from J Cole, Big Sean, Vic Mensa and Santigold, here are a few highlights and observations of the two-day event.
“The New King of Philadelphia,” Kevin Hart, appeared via video to give advice on how to win over the audience of his hometown during his introduction of Fabolus.
Future announced a new album release by year’s ends. “We appreciate all the support. Y’all been turning up for us. It’s gon’ be another album on the way before the year’s out with. Just know we ain’t stop for you,” he told the live and streaming audience.
Beyonce Knowles is a beast onstage. Nuff said.
People are really feeling this dude the Weeknd. It will be interesting to see if he’s a hot artist or a career artist.
Meek Mill is currently holding the city of Philadelphia down. The dude has a real talent when it comes to flat out rapping.”‘“Amen,” “Levels” and “I’m a Boss” won big onstage, and having a song with the reigning queen of rap, Nicki Minaj, and the ability to bring her out as a guest is strong enough. Having the ability to follow that and close the show with a banger, the hood classic “Dreams and Nightmares,” indicates that he can have a special career. Some of the reports in the news, however, gives an indication that he may just need to focus more on his career and that an aspect of his life that served as a muse in the past needs to be phased out or it will come back to bite him.
The Tidal Stage, featuring upcoming artists on the cusp of stardom, added to the theme. Mike Floss, a creator of high quality hip-hop hailing from Memphis, Tenn., looks to be a strong contender to go on to one of the main stages. Floss put in perspective what the experience of performing in settings such as these festivals means to a developing artist.
“I wasn’t too worried about the show. My concern, especially with how the game is, was whether it was actually happening. People at festivals are there to have a good time. When you know that on the front end, the energy is different. You can have them eating out of the palm of their hands if you have the confidence and know what you’re talking about,” said Floss.
Over and out. Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.