Only a decade ago you’d be hard pressed to find more than a few hip hop artists in a major festival line-up, let alone a whole festival dedicated to hip hop. Nowadays you’re as likely to hear gangsta rap bumping out of a Prius as you are out of a hooptie and there’s too many dolla’, dolla’ bills involved to ignore the popularity of today’s rapping class. The major West coast festivals are all well aware of the importance of a strong hip hop line-up and have pulled out all the stops in 2013. Here are just a few of the major hip hop artists featured on the bill this festival season.
WHAT: Paid Dues Independent Hip Hop Festival
WHEN: Saturday, March 30
WHERE: NOS Events Center, San Bernardino, CA
Following the success of Rock the Bells, hip hop promoters Guerilla Union launched the Paid Dues Festival in 2006 and have been going strong ever since. In the wake of Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city, Paid Dues snagged Lamar along with Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q to headline as Black Hippy. Tech N9ne, who’s also in the line-up, has called the group “the new N.W.A.” He may be stretching facts but it should still be interesting. The bill also includes De La Soul who’ve been working with Prince Paul on new material for their eighth album You’re Welcome, the legendary Immortal Technique and Brooklyn’s 17-year-old Joey Bada$$. Paid Dues also managed to grease the wheels for a Mobb Deep reunion following a Twitter beef that nearly ended the group.
WHAT: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
WHEN: April 12 – 14 and April 19 – 21
WHERE: Empire Polo Club, Indio, CA
Coachella’s usually strong line-up was ridiculed this year for being a little light, but this April, Indio has a little something that the other festivals don’t and it’s called the Wu-Tang Clan. The Wu-Tang has been working on a new album since January and this could be the moment where they bring da ruckus. Coachella 2013 features the return of Jurassic 5 who performed at the very first Coachella, a mini Def Jux reunion between El-P who’s touring his latest album Cancer 4 Cure and Aesop Rock who released Skelethon last year, 2012’s most ubiquitous rapper 2 Chainz, and Clipse’s Pusha T will be performing tracks from his eagerly awaited solo debut My Name Is My Name.
WHAT: Sasquatch! Music Festival
WHEN: May 24 – 27
WHERE: Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA The Sasquatch! bill is the most indie-leaning of the major festivals with a lot of breakout artists who’ve had big releases in the past few years including Harlem-based, Twitter-beef Queen Azealia Banks whose debut LP Broke with Expensive Taste is due out this year, Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt, who returned from his exile in Samoa last year and was featured on tracks with Frank Ocean, FlyLo and MellowHype, Death Grips, who released The Money Store and No Love Deep Web last year to rave reviews while torching their label contract and Danny Brown who will hopefully be performing new material from his forthcoming album Old. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are headlining.
WHAT: Rock the Bells
WHEN: August 18 – 19 (San Bernardino) and August 25 – 26 (Mountain View)
WHERE: NOS Events Center, San Bernardino, CA and Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA The current granddaddy of hip hop festivals is Rock the Bells and it’s with good reason. Rock the Bells consistently features top notch line-ups of artists from the entire history of hip hop with something everyone can appreciate. This year is a gold mine for those 90s lovin’ heads with appearances by DMX + Eve, Jadakiss, Method Man and Redman, Dipset, Common, Naughty by Nature, KRS-One, Nas, Bone, Thugs-N-Harmony and Mix Master Mike. El-P and Killer Mike are playing back-to-back sets which means there’ll be some overlap in the wake of Killer Mike’s excellent El-P-produced R.AP. Music. Legends in the house include Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane and Salt-n-Pepa. And for the kids, Rock the Bells features Kid Cudi, J. Cole, Tyga, Future, Wiz Khalifa, Chief Keef, Machine Gun Kelly and much, much more. Do not sleep on this, get your hip hop festival tickets now!!!