The 12th annual Soundset Music Festival, presented by Rhymesayers Entertainment and held at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds, was full of incredible young talent, must-see acts, and hip-hop legends. Over 30,000 people milled around the Fairgrounds as well-known artists from around the country played their biggest hits, their unreleased singles, and everything in between. Despite a few minor setbacks, including popular artist Lil Uzi Vert cancelling on the festival (for the second time in three years), the festival remained fun, festive, and smooth. The organizers managed to book North Carolina rapper DaBaby, as well as the creator of the number one song in the world right now (and quickest streamed track of all time), Lil Nas X. With artists from all across the globe, combined with a diversity of associated activities, including skateboarding, car shows, and food vendors, Soundset offers the perfect gateway into Summer.
Some of the festival highlights included:
- Taylor Bennett. This 23-year-old, up-and-coming Chicago rapper created a lively environment with his significant local fan base. Performing many of his major hits, Taylor (the brother of Chance the Rapper) showed off a dynamic set that built the crowd to a frenzy.
- Buddy. Taking over right after Taylor, Buddy provided a new vibe to the stage, crooning the melodies of perhaps his most famous piece, “Trippin”, while also bringing a more energetic side for later pieces, “Black” and “Shameless”. Buddy used the somewhat smaller crowd of the early festival to his advantage, creating an intimate environment that won new fans over with his unique style, witty lyricism, and infectious positivity.
- Trippie Redd. A clear fan favorite from the beginning, Trippie burst onto the stage with a string of recognizable hits: “Dark Knight Dummo”, “Wish”, and “Topanga” (all Billboard Hot 100 Tracks). Welcomed to the stage by chants of his name, Trippie didn’t disappoint, switching from ultra-hyper mosh pit-esque music to singing his tracks a cappella. In addition to his own hits, Trippie also honored his colleagues, including the late xxxtentacion, with the song, “F**K Love”.
- Beast Coast. Directly following one of hip-hop’s most revered and influential artists, DMX, Beast Coast (a supergroup composed of Brooklyn MC Joey Bada$$, New York group Flatbush Zombies, and several others) had the liveliest show of the night. Having released their debut group album a mere four days prior, Soundset was the first time they performed their new work live. While there was time allotted for these new singles, much of the set was devoted to individual members/groups and their mega hits, notably Joey Bada$$ performing “Devastated” and Flatbush with a fiery performance of “Headstone.” Known for their contagious energy, undeniable vigor, and truly eccentric style, this supergroup supported their reputation as great live performers.
- G-Eazy. Following rap duo Run the Jewels’ emotional performance, Oakland rapper Gerald Gillum (known by stage name G-Eazy) came on with the sun just beginning to set. He was met with overwhelming energy from the still growing Soundset crowd. Eazy kept repeating that the Twin Cities as his “favorite place to perform at,” even going as far to claim that his current set as the favorite he ever played. In addition to performing many of his best-known hits, including “Me, Myself & I,” “Pray for Me,” and “1942,” Eazy also played a song from his new project (supposedly “coming soon”). Eazy additionally displayed his local ties by bringing out local rapper, Mod Sun, and Minnesota Timberwolves all-star, Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns performed with Eazy on the latter’s biggest song, “No Limit.”
- Lil Wayne. After releasing the fifth installment of his “Tha Carter” series this past year, Lil Wayne cemented his rightful claim to the Mount Rushmore of rap artists. While not known as a great live performer, tens of thousands flocked to the two main stages to catch a glimpse of the all-time great. “Weezy”, as fans often called him, played the show despite rumors that he wouldn’t show up (he’d missed three Minnesota performances since 2015) and entered the stage to chants of his name. His 1-hour set covered much of his illustrious discography, including the megahits “A Milli”, “Lollipop”, “6 ft 7 ft”, and his most recent Billboard chart topper, “Uproar”. Wayne’s smooth vocals, distinct style, and seemingly never-ending amount of hits capped off a fantastic Soundset Music Festival.
Exiting the State Fairgrounds, one could feel the crowd’s excitement and joy – and pleasant surprise – that the Twin Cities had clearly become a hub for rap music.