Feature | March 16, 2015
Fives: Big Festivals for Hip-Hop Fans


brooklyn hip hop festival

Much has happened in hip-hop since our last column, friends: surprise Drake tapes, secret Wu-Tang albums, Kanye West media takeovers, etc. Have I covered any of that in this space? Well, no. I leave it to the lame-stream media to provide you with the basic stuff. I want you think of my column as more innovative, more boundary-pushing, more at-the-vanguard than that. Which is why I’m giving you the ultimate in journalistic innovation: a listicle.

And this week, folks, we’re dedicating that listicle to summer festival season, which officially kicked off with SXSW this week. There are many things that we, the festival audience, have to consider when planning our summer fest schedule. Distance, money, sponsors, all these things factor into the decision of which festival(s) to attend. This week, I’m here to help you answer a very important fest-related question, or “festion”: which of the major festivals have the best hip-hop lineup this year?

With Rock The Bells potentially still on hiatus, there’s no one festival that stands out as the singular destination for hip-hop heads. So here are 5 options for fests that, while not exclusively curated for rap and hip-hop audiences (well except for the last one), are still pretty dope. Leggo.

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the roots picnic

5. The Roots Picnic (Philadelphia, PA)

For the 8th time, the Roots Picnic is set to hit the streets of Ill-adelphia this summer, taking place Saturday, May 30th. The legendary Roots crew will perform, as always, along with A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd and Erykah Badu. Don’t miss exciting newcomers like “No Type” rappers Rae Sremmurd and the Nas-approved Bishop Nehru. And of course, never count out old-school heroes like Afrika Bambaataa, who will make the whole planet rock, guaranteed.

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coachella tupac

4. Coachella (Indio, CA)

You’ll have to rush to make plans, but if you can swing this year’s Coachella, you’ll be able to catch artists like Azealia Banks and Lil B who don’t currently have any other U.S. festivals booked. Then, of course, there’s must-see-live acts like Tyler The Creator, Run The Jewels and Raekwon & Ghostface Killah. Hurry up and get your flower crown, lace tunic, and the rest of your BoHo chic wardrobe together in time for the first weekend, April 10th – 12th!

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run the jewels live

3. Pitchfork Festival (Chicago, IL)

Fuckin’ Pitchfork, amirite? But seriously, they have good taste in rap music: Vince Staples, A$AP Ferg, and iLoveMakonnen will all make appearances over the weekend of July 17th – 19th. Plus, for $150 per 3-Day Pass, this bad boy is a bargain. Pro tip: the best day for live hip-hop performance will be Sunday, which features Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Run The Jewels, and Chance The Rapper (the experience of watching Chance perform in his hometown is one you don’t want to miss, trust me).

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chance the rapper sasquatch

2. Sasquatch! (George, WA)

If you’re a fan of the Black Hippy collective, Sasquatch! is the festival for you: founding members Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul will all be performing at The Gorge amphitheater in George, WA from May 22nd – 25th, 2015. You’ll also be able to see Action Bronson and Dilated Peoples, as well as big names of Pacific-Northwest hip-hop like Porter Ray and THEESatisfaction. Do Memorial Day weekend right, and don’t fall off The Gorge!

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brooklyn hip hop festival

1. Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival (Brooklyn, NY)

This one flies under the radar, but for true hip-hop heads it’s like a trip to Mecca; the festival’s press release describes it as “more than a concert or outdoor fair…it is a family reunion for lovers of this great culture.” So yeah, it’s just like a family reunion, except your second cousins are Raekwon, Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip (all of whom have headlined in the past). The festival is also famous for its special guests, which have included Jay-Z and Kanye West. Common has been announced as a headliner for the 2015 iteration of the festival, which will take place July 8th – 11th.