Words by Patrick M.
Pitchfork is not the first name that pops into your head when you. are thinking of hip-hop related music. Yet, you cannot argue they put out consistently good material on their website. The institution also represents hip-hop music fairly and accurately for a indie/rock-based critics, not falling prey to the crappy public relations the hip-hop community is so good at creating for itself. Thus, T.I., Clipse, and Ghostface all graced their “top singles of 2006” lists, and their top 100 albums of the 90’s list is peppered with hip-hop releases (at least until you hit the top 30. Hey they tried.)
Regardless the proximity (Chicago’s Union Park,) price (only 50 bucks for all three days!) and presence of hip-hop acts made me decide to check out this year’s addition of Pitchfork Music Festival. Ok I also managed to luckily score VIP passes, which gave me easy access to backstage, free booze, and free Chipotle. That also played into my decision.
Friday night was classic album night, where the organizers convinced three artists to play full length classic LPs. Headlining was Sonic Youth. Opening was some group named Slint I was unfamiliar with. But going on second, was the head of Voltron, the Gza, performing Liquid Swords in its entirety.
Gza watches Cappa have a by himself meeting
This album jumps somewhere between 3 and 20 in my ever-changing all timer list. The two great things about it are the production (Rza in 95=Pedro Martinez in 99) and the lyrical showcase The Genius puts on, living up to his name, every couplet is on point, and the metaphors and similes are flying all over the place. Gza’s performance was not anything special, he stood around a whole bunch, and did his thing which was spitting the sick lyrics. From my perspective, it was still enjoyable to just sit back and listen, but it was a great musical experience, not a great concert experience, so I wonder if it carried over for non-Wu heads.. One positive was the presence of Cappadonna and Killah Priest, who filled in for many of the Wu guest shots. Cappa did a good job filling for Ghost, rapping his verses from “Ironman” and “Winter Warz,” over “4th Chamber,” and “Investigative Reports.” Cappa ranting, always good times, and it translated energy over to the crowd.
The show went on Saturday and Sunday, as people fought the heat and focused on the bands, or on looking as cool as possible. The music was very eclectic (always a good thing) and the mainstream rap draw was Clipse (immediately preceding Yoko Ono on the main stage.) I was skeptical about Clipse’s appeal to the crowd, and felt going in there was a strong opportunity for them to put a half-hearted effort, but to my surprise they put on a pretty bangin show. They were helped immeasurably by superior sound quality than the previous night, as the speakers definitely had that “Boom,” over which the Neptunes millions of dollars of production resonated. Pusha T and Malice played most of the hits off Lord Willin and Hell Hath No Fury, as well as some mixtape shit, and kept the crowd hyped throughout.
Always stretch before and after Re-Up runs.
Of course the good performance led to some awkward moments; nothing like a bunch of 18-30 year old white kids yelling “Re-Up, Re-Up” to make you cringe a little; I don’t think many of those people are corner boys and most of them come from a vastly different world than the one Clipse is glorifying. Just another example of the weird shit happening to hip-hop music today, as it expands to a greater audience, comes under greater scrutiny, and diversifies in style and substance.
There were a bunch of other rap artists too: Cool Kids, De La Soul (who I sadly missed, but made up for it by going to see Black Sheep the next night,) and a whole bunch of underground cats I have never heard of. I didn’t hear anything new worth mentioning. Overall I enjoyed the shows, and thought Pitchfork did a great job of doing what they set out to do; provide an affordable show with a bunch of acts from different genres. I was a little disappointed with the vibe, as there were definitely a lot of people out there just to be seen, but I plan on going back next year. Even if there is no free Chipotle.
K-Os – Collected
Young Noble & Fatal – Thug In Thug Out
Strong Arm Steady – Deep Hearted: The Sampler Mixtape
Trina Rockstarr Royalty Mixtape Hosted By Bigga Rankin
Plies – The Countdown
Dj Law & Marco Polo – Courts in Session Vol 5
Hannah Montana 2 Soundtrack
MF Doom-MM Food Reissue