RECAP: Soundset 2019

Now in its 12th year, Rhymesayers Entertainment-led hip hop festival Soundset held its 2019 edition at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds in St. Paul on Sunday. This year’s lineup was incredibly stacked, including sets from Lil Wayne, G-Eazy, Run The Jewels and more.

The day started with plenty of hidden gems, including the first of two sets from Just Blaze in the Essential Elements tent. The acclaimed producer jumped from playing hit tracks that he produced into a beat set, making the most of a 15 minute time slot that was followed with a longer set later. The tent also featured breakdance competitions, producer and DJ sets and more throughout the day.

Run The Jewels performs at Soundset 2019
Photo by Patrick Carroll

The main stages of the festival, named for both of the Twin Cities, had notable acts coming and going frequently. The lineup ran the gamut of names, from young buzzing artists including Trippie Redd, Tierra Whack, and viral sensation Doja Cat to legends like DMX within the afternoon block. At any point, it felt like you could hear a hit record just grazing past the main stage area. One of the biggest highlights, though, was Beast Coast, aka the combination of Flatbush Zombies, Joey Bada$$, Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution, Powers Pleasant, and The Underachievers. The collective brought an aggressive, energetic set to the main stage that kept the crowd bouncing.

An unexplained cancellation from Lil Uzi Vert, his second in three years at Soundset, resulted in organizers scrambling for a replacement on the day of the festival. Fortunately, there was enough time to secure a 30 minute set from DaBaby, as well as a 15 minute appearance from current viral superstar Lil Nas X, who put together a three track set that started with his hit “Old Town Road”. This block was also augmented by appearances from several Minnesota Vikings, including running back Ameer Abdullah, who dropped a quick freestyle for stage host Sway Calloway as well.

The lineup only got heavier going into the night, as Run The Jewels brought their set to a lively crowd that had endured the 80-degree heat with no cloud cover. The duo announced that they had been working on a new album, “Run The Jewels 4”, and also took a very personal end to their set, including a tearful tribute to a fallen comrade.

Photo by Patrick Carroll

In addition to the Twin Cities stages, the other main attraction of the day was the Atmosphere and Friends stage, which featured more lyrical acts that kept the hip hop heads moving as well. That stage was capped off by an appearance from Black Star (Yassin Bey, fka Mos Def, and Talib Kweli), as well as Rhymesayers founders Atmosphere. Black Star rocked their set with ease, keeping heads nodding with not only their duo cuts, but solo hits as well. Atmosphere received a hero’s welcome, with a set that truly felt like an appreciative celebration of all things Minnesota, Rhymesayers, and hip hop.

All of the other stages closed business around 9:00, save for the Minneapolis Stage, which was headlined by festival closer Lil Wayne. After a long day of music, Wayne didn’t disappoint, anchored by a live band and DJ, and bringing a set that expertly incorporated his many features, hits he dedicated to his “day one Weezy fans”, and tracks from his latest, “Tha Carter V”. From his mixtapes to his latest music, there’s a variety of sounds and eras to the living legend, and he managed to touch on much of that, giving the fans a strong note to close out the night on.

Soundset is truly something unique in both its structure and lineup. Rhymesayers managed to make the 2019 festival feel both major and locally important at the same time. It was a truly diverse day of hip hop, and a fun experience for a hip hop fan in a whirlwind of a day.

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