Now in its fifth year, Soundset is easily one of the largest and most consistent festivals in the Twin Cities, on par with high-drawing events like We Fest. And yet for all of Rhymesayers’ heft in Minnesota, it’s easy to forget that there are still many, many people in our fair state that have no idea that Minnesota is home to an unusually strong, vast hip-hop scene.
Even those familiar with the rap scene may only be aware of the larger names. And while Atmosphere, Brother Ali, and Doomtree have certainly earned their footing at the top of the promotional heap after a decade-plus of gradual growth, I worry sometimes that their overexposure might turn some people off from exploring the rest of the hip-hop scene, or worse yet give people the impression that there isn’t much happening beyond the big names. Which would be a shame, because the Twin Cities rap scene, especially, has a lot to offer.
There’s been a lot of internet debate recently (which I like to think of on a separate plane as regular debate, unless a regular debate for you involves not actually listening to the other person while they are talking or ever advancing past the “I disagree, you are wrong” stage) about whether or not the local hip-hop scene is oversaturated, but that whole argument seems counterproductive. Every music community has players of all skill levels participating, and of course some acts are better than others and some of the “worse” acts end up getting attention for myriad intangible reasons. If you really get down to the core of the argument, though, the consensus seems to be that this is an extremely busy time for Minnesota hip-hop and that there is art being made under the umbrella of rap that will appeal to all kinds of music fans.
If you’re looking for a primer, it doesn’t get much better than this rundown from rapper, spoken word artist, and writer Guante, who breaks down the rap community into easy-to-understand categories and lists a lot of the essential players. This year’s Soundset lineup, too, pulls from nearly every corner of the rap scene, and I’m particularly excited to explore some of the acts outlined in Guante’s “Wag Posse” and “Harder to Classify” sections this year. And you can sample every single one of the acts on this year’s bill in this masterful mixtape by DJ crew Get Cryphy, who are DJing the official Soundset afterparty.
For more on Sunday’s Soundset festival, tune into the Morning Show tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. for a chat with Brother Ali, who will be MCing the fest this year alongside MaLLy and J Pratt. And find the full lineup and all the pertinent details on Soundset’s site.