Header Ads

Four Hip Hop Acts that Killed It at Summerset

Summerset Music Festival took place a few weekends ago, August 14th-16th, in Somerset, WI and was three days of over 70 different artists from across the country. Summerset is best known as an EDM festival, but it actually books a pretty diverse range of genres and featured a number of fantastic hip hop acts.

Toki Wright

Toki Wright kicking off Summerset weekend. Photo by Susanne Bushman.
Toki Wright had a daunting task as the very first act of the entire festival, but he came onto the stage with a ton of energy and enthusiasm from the very start and drew a really hyped crowd of an impressive size. When his set started most people were sitting on the grassy outskirts just listening and taking in the scene, but Toki has serious bars and some really unique beats, and they couldn't resist coming down to the dance floor. Wright was one of the only rappers I saw that weekend who addressed real, heavy stuff in his music. He did a great performance of “Film the Police,” originally a B. Dolan song, which is a sort of modern day re-imagining of NWA's “Fuck tha Police” highlighting the protective power of united community efforts and educating about citizens' rights to take cell phone videos of police officers as records of unlawful uses of force.

Wright was one of Summerset's local artists, coming from Minneapolis, and in addition to his career as a musician he is also a community organizer and an educator. He's been making music since '98 and is part of Soul Tools Entertainment.

Webster X

Webster X, getting sweaty and into it. Photo by Susanne Bushman.
There was a lot of body paint involved. Webster X classifies his music as experimental hip hop/rap, and the other musicians onstage, sporting much body paint, played keyboard and percussion while also manning a MIDI pad. Having a combination of analog and electronic instruments onstage added a really engaging performative element, especially the brief, shining moments of soulful saxophone. The whole set was extremely high energy – Webster X ran out into the crowd a number of times and led an adoring mob of fans in a romp around the stage area, absolutely raining with sweat when he got back onstage after the end of the song.
A mysterious singer, name unknown, also came out for a number of songs, and she, too, was sweating off a lot of body paint. She had an amazing voice and was super performative and fun, passionately throwing herself all over the stage. Having not been at all familiar with Webster X before the set began, what I can most confidently say is that it was very weird and I was very into it.


Saba did some serious work with a bad slot. On the last day of the festival, at 3 pm, he managed to draw a crowd of about 30 people, but 30 people who were totally hyped, totally invested in the music. Saba did a great job balancing music and talk, contextualizing his music in his background as a rapper from the West side of Chicago and really developing a relationship with the intimate audience. With some thanks to the strong efforts from his hypeman, the whole crowd was jumping around and yelling along to every hook, and perfectly executed the call and response in “Whip (AreYouDown?)”. Saba has a very distinctly Chicago sound, but it is also an impressively polished sound. The production is tight and he has a strong, established voice, especially considering his age. Saba is up and coming and everyone should be watching out, no doubt.

Lil Dicky

Having gotten his start on YouTube with a few funny music videos, Lil Dicky has sort of come out of nowhere, but is now (maybe?) being taken seriously as a 'professional rapper'. Honestly, the boy has bars. He really does appeal to a new demographic of potential rap fans, as he originally set out to do, and even out onstage he was very open and genuine, connecting with the audience. His whole set was incredibly fun and highly anticipated by many, including the crew of bros in the front of the crowd who were shouting such encouragements as “WE WANT DICK” while waiting for him to come on. His clucking chicken-esque dance moves add something invaluable to the whole white boy rappper performance, and I was so happy for the girl he brought onstage for “Lemme Freak” who seemed to  potentially be the world's #1 Lil Dicky fangirl. Lil Dicky: I laughed, I cringed, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Lil Dicky, legal name Dave Burd, recently relased his first full-length album, “Professional Rapper,” that features a ton of big names in the rap game, including Fetty Wap, Snoop Dogg and T-Pain, as well as a hilarious interlude from comedian Hannibal Buress. His music dances a strange line between comedy and hip hop and the end result is something funnier than the Lonely Island, and more listen-able, something you would actually bump to your car, over and over. He's trying to “do the whole thing different” and I think he may very well be nailing it.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.