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Hip-Hop Highlights of this Summer’s Festival Season

Though time has already stolen from us opportunities to see the ghost of Tupac at Coachella and the public shaming of Nicki Minaj at Hot 97’s Summer Jam, the summer still harbors many possibilities for you to see live hip-hop/risk dehydration with your audiophile peers.

Regardless which part of the U.S. you call home (sorry Europe, you guys need to sort out your money problems before you do any partying), at least one phenomenal hip-hop show awaits somewhere within the festival season’s predominantly pop offerings.

Below you can find four of the best reasons to start asking off from work right now.


Southern California/East Coast—Rock the Bells Festival, August 18 & 19, San Bernardino, California/September 1 & 2, Holmdel, NJ

When the RZA warrants naught but a small-print mention at the very bottom of a lineup, it’s safe to assume that a show is bringing the goods.

The Rock the Bells Festival—which this year takes its show on the road, laying down two weekends in California and one in New Jersey—brings together an unbeatable admixture of hip-hop’s most widely lauded stars and classicist mainstays.

Nas headlines all three of the shows, with sets from relative newcomers such as 2 Chainz, Future and Curren$y filling out a stellar collection of mid-day slots. For hip-hop fans, this one is not to be missed.


Midwest—Lollapalooza, August 3 – 5, Chicago, Illinois

Though already so thoroughly sold out that it’s ridiculous, Lollapalooza, relegated in its later years to the clipped stomping grounds of Chicago’s Grant Park, features a few hip-hop gems mixed in amongst its primarily pop/rock offerings.

R&B fetish objects The Weeknd and Frank Ocean will both lay down swoon-inducing sets, in addition to a typically enthusiastic performance from Seattle’s Macklemore and producer/co-conspirator Ryan Lewis.


Northwest—Bumbershoot, September 1 – 3, Seattle, Washington

Like Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot’s hip-hop offerings are mostly of the token variety, though sets from Big Sean, Mac Miller and Yelawolf still provide an adequate fix for genre addicts. Spare offerings, sure, but you can’t fault the festival organizers for lack of taste. Mac Miller and Yelawolf have proven two of hip-hop’s most engaging live acts, and when it comes to pop hip-hop rising stars, you could do much worse than Big Sean, fresh off a mid-career boost from the marketing efforts of Kanye West’s incipient, G.O.O.D. Music hit machine.


South—Austin City Limits Festival, October 12 – 14, Austin, Texas

You might say mid-October stretches the definition of “summer” to its terminal degree, but this is Texas we’re talking about, and the superabundance of heat renders changes in season a point of academic distinction.

The organizers of the folk/rock-tending Austin City Limits Festival have apparently realized the proximity of their yearly hoopla to the verdant fields of Southern Rap, for this year’s festivities include a set from Mississippi breakout star Big K.R.I.T.

South African hip-hop weirdoes Die Antwoord find a spot on the bill as well, as does The Weeknd, building further anticipation for what should be a solid commercial debut.

About the Author


Shane Danaher's affection for pop music has peppered his adult life with a variety of aesthetically rewarding and financially disastrous decisions. After moving to Portland, Oregon for college (because that's where he heard Modest Mouse was from) Shane has wound up participating in the music world in roles ranging from 'drummer' to 'promoter' to 'bathroom floor scrubber.' He has toured without money, written about almost every band ever to have come out of the Pacific Northwest, and one time traveled all the way to Los Angeles just to see a catch hip-hop show. He currently resides in Portland, where he writes about hip-hop, pop and rock music for a variety of publications. He still plays drums. He wants to meet Kanye West.

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Posted in: Featured, Hip Hop Music