Why Hip-Hop Needs Festivals Like @NNMFestival

Festivals

If there was one thing I wish more people talked about more when rendering their favorite festival experiences – is how peaceful the Hip-Hop environment was.

I realize a small (or perhaps, non-existent) number of people actually go to Electronic-based festivals to hear Hip-Hop so let’s take a moment to acknowledge Northern Nights Music Festival for always including some degree of Hip-Hop. This year: Sage The Gemini. In previous years: Living Legends, Adam Vida, Black Star, GoldLink, Amp Live, Zion I, and many others.

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It’s hard to explain the scenery of a strictly Hip-Hop show or festival but imagine this – last year at Rolling Loud Bay Area, I saw a girl actively participate in a mosh pit and then immediately get upset when she got knocked down multiple times – while getting pushed around (as expected in a mosh pit) she threatened to pepper-spray everyone within reach. Wild right? At the same festival – Lil B got jumped backstage – of all people – Lil B?The Based God – who literally loves every single soul on this Earth including insects and trees.

Also, consider – numerous SOBxRBE shows in the Bay where chains get snatched and in turn, fights break out. At their most recent back-to-back, sold-out show in Santa Cruz, the second show didn’t even happen because someone brought their gun out. I’ve seen fights turn into brawls, rude girls throw drinks on one another, and aggressive attitudes from virtually everybody.

Not to mention – extensive searches, metal detectors, and pat downs upon entry. And don’t you dare try smoking a joint while you’re in there. Some will say it’s ego, others say pride, but what it really is – is the very content of the genre itself. Which is something that’s probably not going to change much in time. When you rap about drugs, violence, and bad bitches, that’s what you can expect when the energy is reciprocated in a live setting. But switch environments for just a second and watch how the scene changes.

HIP-HOP NEEDS FESTIVALS LIKE NORTHERN NIGHTS because the atmosphere is so welcoming and abundant in vibes. If you’ve ever tried, you know you can’t talk a Hip-Hop head out of Hip-Hop, so don’t try. It’s not about the music – but try enticing real Hip-Hop fans with friendly people, pretty girls, not-so-douchey men, caring neighbors, activities like cannabis and yoga – c’mon, have you ever seen anyone smoke weed or leave yoga mad or wanting to fight? No, you have not. This year, Northern Nights has also incorporated an Experimental Cannabis Activation where organizers simply wish to implement a re-imagination of how festivals incorporate cannabis. Plus, of course, yoga, live art, a silent disco, a river, workshops, and plenty more.

So much of Hip-Hop is resistance. Especially resistance to change. But a festival like Northern Nights will change your life, and maybe even your perspective on music in general. Genuinely coming from someone who sgoes hyphy to Mac Dre in between EDM songs at the most unexpected DJ sets at any given festival, I highly recommend this one over your typical festival.

Tickets are selling fast, and the set times have been released. Visit https://www.northernnights.org/ now for everything you need to know.  #MakeTheJourney and see you all there!

Photos courtesy of Northern Nights Music Festival

Less Rap, Let’s Rave – The Santa Cruz Music Festival 2018

Festivals

Every post-festival Monday always has me in my feelings about the worthiness of #FestivalLife, but here it is, Wednesday, convinced I was delusional because, YES, I am still very much all about it. That being said, the 2018 Santa Cruz Music Festival was a huge success, and having been to the festival last year, I can confidently say, each year is getting better and better.

Despite the light rain, the #SCMF brought together a versatile group of people. Everything from seasoned yogis to hipster millennials, to families, street faire enthusiasts, students, rave babies, foodies, hip-hoppers, and indie rockers. Downtown Santa Cruz was quite literally host to every type of festival-goer. It’s easy to bring together all the same kind of people, so by way of festival code, a huge virtual round of applause goes out to the organizers behind the #SantaCruzMusicFestival for entertaining such a diverse crowd.

If you only went for the Hip-Hop, you’re probably disappointed. Big name headliners like Ghostface Killah, Scarab (of Living Legends), and Smoke DZA took up less than two hours of the two-day show. And while practically every Electronic artist incorporated some Hip-Hop into their sets, most of the “real” Hip-Hop fans wanted less rave stuff and more rap stuff.

Author’s Note: the sarcastic use of “real” when referring to Hip-Hop simply refers the older Gen Y crowd who doesn’t support the evolution of Hip-Hop; and who seem to think the music created during their prime is ultimately the best thing to have ever happened. Also, they hate rappers with the prefixes “Lil” or “Yung” and preach about “hype”.

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Scarub of Living Legends

For many, the true gems are hidden in the earliest sets at the smaller venues. The lesser-known acts and up-and-coming artists are the ones really driving the crowd.  Speaking of, I had the pleasure of meeting with The Rellies, a Hip-Hop duo from Santa Cruz and Maui who performed inside Streetlight Records on Sunday. They brought out Dave Steezy (of HBK) and went level-10 hyphy on us.

I’ve picked out some of my favorite tracks from The Rellies for you to get on:

If you like them, give ’em a follow!

If you listened to A Vibe Called West last week, you’d know that Pure Powers’ killed his set on Saturday (yes—we predicted it). Last year’s headlining acts were all squeezed into the big, but small Catalyst so the festival’s transition to the Civic Auditorium was much needed. It allowed us all to enjoy the show without being too close to the people dancing beside us, while also leaving plenty of space for people with a larger personal bubble in the back.

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Pure Powers

There’s a video out now for my current favorite Pure Powers song,  which is phenomenal live BTW, check it out:

Other Santa Cruz Music Festival Highlights include:

  • Bigger festivals charge $12-16 bucks a beer, but the venues participating in this year’s #SCMF sold regularly priced (and often, locally brewed) beer which made my pockets (and taste buds) smile.
  • I lost my phone in the VIP area (because I saw pizza and was immediately distracted) and thanks to the wonderful ladies at the CloutKing table, I got it back along with a dope CloutKing t-shirt. You should get yourself one too!
  • Icing on the cake for me: adding more really cool people to my network of  #FestivalFamily ❤ Thank you!
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The Grand Finale – Mr. Carmack