written by Melissa Faulkner
photos taken by Chris Taylor
If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “I’m not a Soundset person”, I’d definitely be well on my way to a dollar. Which is going to be one-tenth of the cost of my Lyft ride to the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Soundset will kick off its 12th annual Memorial Weekend single-day unrivaled Midwest Hip Hop festival.
If you have the opportunity to take a $10 Lyft or $3 bus to a festival, be dropped off 20 yards from the entrance with no more than 10 minute wait lines, see local legends like Atmosphere, Dessa, and Prof, national sensations like SZA and Lil Wayne, sleep in your own bed or on a buddy’s futon free of charge, and STILL call yourself “not a Soundset person” then you can GTFO of this great city and take 35W construction with you while you’re at it.
Soundset is by far the premiere hip hop festival in the midwest and the 2019 Lineup is a real treat, blending the local flavor of underground sound that Soundset has come to hang its hat on. With big names like Lil Wayne, G-Eazy, Black Star, Dem Atlas, DMX, and Run the Jewels. By Sunday, May 26th, it’s safe to say the Arctic Tundra will resemble a Sting song, and the collective population will have loosened up their death grip from their steering wheel, exposed their pasty shoulders, and you might even catch a stranger humming again. Soundset is the outdoor music festival that really sets the stage (pun intended) for the entire, albeit short, Minnesota summer – bookended by Soundset over Memorial Day Weekend, and the Minnesota State Fair over Labor Day Weekend, also on the Midway fairgrounds. Before you non-hip hop listeners get your undies in too much of a bundle, let me remind you that hip hop show goers have a reputation of being some of the kindest attendees in the scene. Metal fans being at the top, and surprisingly, Indie being at dead last.
The Value Added Experience
There will be over 40 performers across five stages in the 10 hour window that the festival takes place. Budget your time accordingly, because you’ll want to see the incredible dancers, skaters, live painting, and tricked out cars on site. And let’s not forget about the local food trucks and ferris wheel (pro-tip: best seat in the house).
Additional bonuses that make this festival a tier above the rest? Free parking included with general admission if you want to drive yourself (but seriously, when have you ever heard of that?!) and before and after parties that clock in at just $15, as if the entire day wasn’t already worth the tier 1 ticket price of $109.
Save yourself the trouble of planning some “epic” Memorial Weekend and go where the actual nice Minnesotans will be: outside, enjoying the raw talent of local and national artists, and supporting a 12-year tradition rooted in independent music.