Hopscotch, Night Two: Heavy on the Hip-Hop | Music

Hopscotch, Night Two: Heavy on the Hip-Hop


  • Photo by Charles Morse
  • Kaytranada
Hopscotch Music Festival
Downtown Raleigh
Friday, September 8, 2017

For night two of Hopscotch, I encountered a similar "what now?" feeling to the one I encountered on the first day. Fortunately, the schedule had enough going that it gave attendees something to go on an adventure to fulfill that query.

K 97.5’s day party at Pour House was surprisingly packed, and a satisfying place to start the day. The bill featured almost everyone in local hip-hop who was deserving of an official Hopscotch slot, but didn’t make the cut this year. Stand out performances from 3am, Imani Pressley, M8balla, and Danny Blaze provided attendees from outside of the Triangle a respectable sampling of varying local hip-hop flavors.

The next destination that everyone was talking about was Busdriver, Rapsody, and of course, Run the Jewels at Red Hat Amphitheater. Unfortunately, I had to take a quick detour home and missed Busdriver, but I did catch the tail end of Rapsody’s set. I couldn’t help but feel that she should have been placed in a more intimate setting than Red Hat. Of course, for her it’s great to put on her résumé that she played at a six-thousand-capacity amphitheater (and in an opening slot for a massive act like Run the Jewels), but a packed mid-size venue like the Lincoln Theatre would’ve been more fitting for her act than the illusion of sparse attendance Red Hat provided.

The moment everyone came for at Red Hat came when RTJ hit the stage—impeccably on time—to a triumphant entry theme of Queen's "We Are The Champions" and thunderous applause from the crowd.

Killer Mike and El-P are a special breed of rap group. They’ve broken every rule that rap music has out in front of artists. They’re older guys, old enough to be their younger fans’ dads, but they rap over El-P’s modern EDM-inspired beats instead of boom bap reminders of the good old days. They play up their dad-ness with corny jokes, funny banter about responsibly moshing, and gently reminding the men in the crowd that they will get knocked out by them personally for any unwanted attention given to the ladies of the crowd.

Their hour long set complete with an encore was everything you could ask for from a headlining performer at a music festival. They were on time, hit the stage with a purpose, played every song their fans wanted to hear, and the audience was extremely into it. It was honestly one of the best shows at a music festival or not, that I’ve ever been to.

But then there was the “what now?” Kind of hard to top that.

I ran over to Slim’s to see Essex Muro—who I’ve never seen before live—and the band was insane. It used the space at Slim’s perfectly, getting people moshing and spilling PBR all over each other. I had to dip out to the back because I had camera equipment that I wasn’t trying to try to clean beer off of, but Essex Muro was so high energy that, even if you’re a hip hop head like me, you have to appreciate its showmanship.

But even after that performance, I was left wondering what to do next. I headed over to The Basement because everyone I know was raving about Lee Fields, who did his soulful thing, and Kaytranada, who put everyone in a trance as soon as he stepped on stage. He’s a rare beatmaker who is also an impressive d.j. I definitely saw what the hype was about. It also kind of surprised me how into his music the audience was, for the simple reason that most Hopscotch attendees are locals, and I’ve never seen that many people for producers with the same level of chops from here (such as Oak City Slums) at a show. It made me feel like we can do better as a music community to get people to hear what’s going on in our city.

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