After dinner, I headed back over to the A3C main stage on the festival grounds for what was being billed as the Pimp C Memorial Concert, but I was amazed that before it started, the DJ pulled out a classic Memphis song by Playa Fly, “Getting’ It On”, and nearly everyone in the crowd around me knew the words. Fly really should have been on at least one of the showcases at A3C, as he is a legend.
The Duck Down Bar-B-Que at A3C was sponsored by Duck Down Music, and therefore the main act was Smif-N-Wessun, along with other members of the Boot Camp Click (the Brooklyn one, not the Louisiana one). The surprise for me though was when they broke out with songs off the classic Black Moon album Enter The Stage, which I hadn’t at all been expecting, and which sent me hustling back to the festival area.
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Young Roddy was not a name I was familiar with, but he was announced as being from Louisiana, and I was told that he was associated with the New Orleans rapper Curren$y. I thought his performance on Saturday afternoon was decent, and Roddy has recently released a new mixtape called Legal Dealing.
Atlanta’s own Jarren Benton was the first artist to kick off the Duck Down Bar-B-Que at the A3C main stage in Atlanta on Saturday. Benton’s popularity has been growing greatly over the last several years.
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The second and final outdoor show at the A3c main stage on Saturday was billed as a Pimp C Memorial Concert. As such, it featured an all-star cast of rappers who had known Pimp C, worked with him, or been influenced by him, from relatively new Texas rappers like Doughbeezy and Killa Kyleon, to legendary artists like Twista, TMo Goodie, Bigg Gipp, Eightball & MJG, Trae The Truth and Bun B himself. Most of the artists performed their classic and well-known material, and that was especially true of Eightball & MJG, who did classic material from their first album Coming Out Hard. I also noticed that the DJ played Playa Fly’s “Getting’ It On” at the beginning of the event.
The Saturday afternoon event on A3C’s main stage was billed as the DuckDown Bar-B-Que, which provoked a fair amount of consternation, as there wasn’t any bar-b-que, only the usual food trucks. But it was sponsored by DuckDown Music, and was basically a concert, at which Jarren Benton, someone from Louisiana named Young Roddy, and Smif-N-Wessun performed. Jarren Benton I had seen before, a couple of years ago at SXSW, but I was far more impressed with him at this performance. He is quite lyrical and satirical, and at times is reminiscent of early Eminem. Young Roddy I was not at all familiar with (and I usually try to keep up with Louisiana artists), but I thought he was a decent performer. Obviously it was Smif-N-Wessun that most people came to hear, and when they started doing Black Moon material, I was especially thrilled, as I hadn’t expected that, and as Black Moon was one of my favorite rap groups and albums of all time. Hearing such gems as “Enter the Stage” and “Shit Is Real” made my day.
Over the last couple of years, much concern has been expressed about what some see as the growing commercialism of A3C as a festival, and there is no doubt that major national brands like Red Bull, Reeboks and Heineken have discovered the event, and that there are a lot more mainstream artists being programmed to appear. But all of the corporate involvement is not entirely negative. This year Heineken sponsored a pyramid at the festival area that was a template for a number of graffiti artists to create works of art during the days of the festival. Everyone involved created beautiful and interesting works, including Atlanta’s own Paper Frank, whose birthday party I had inadvertently stumbled into last fall in East Atlanta Village. Perhaps the interest in A3C on the part of larger brands won’t have a negative impact if the companies approach the culture with a degree of respect, as Heineken seemed to do this year.
The Saturday of A3C was a little different this year, and somewhat more difficult, in that Georgia Tech was having a football game at their stadium, which was just across I-75/85 from the conference hotel, so parking was extremely expensive if you could even find any. I finally found parking at Emory Hospital (and they hadn’t raised the rates for the game, I suppose out of concern for visitors and families), so I was able to make my way to the hotel for the day’s activities. But no sooner was I up in the 25th floor lounge than it started raining, and not just a little bit, but heavy downpours. We could see people leaving the stadium in droves from across the way, and I feared that the outdoor showcases would be cancelled as well, but after an hour or so, the rain ended, and I caught the shuttle out to the A3C Main Stage on Edgewood Avenue.
P. Dibiase was the last artist to appear on the Fresh Out The Box showcase at A3C, and the only one on the lineup that I had ever heard of. That being said, there’s not a whole lot of biographical information out there about him, other than his being from Chicago, and a lot of videos, songs and mxtapes, the most recent of which is called the Steve Jobs Mixtape. Like all the performers I heard, Dibiase is extremely talented, and perhaps more lyrical than some of the previous artists, and has definitely garnered a little more attention from the blogs and websites. P. Dibiase may be positioned to be the next big thing from Chicago.
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Weasel Sims has a famous (or infamous) name in Chicago, a name that belies his young years. His dad, Rufus “Weasel” Sims, also pursued a rap career, but was better known as one of the city’s most notorious drug lords, once allegedly purchasing a mansion with solid gold plumbing fixtures. Now the young Weasel Sims and his rap group the RAN Nation are poised to take Chicago’s rap scene by storm, and they certainly shook up the Fresh Out The Box showcase at the Music Room in Atlanta during A3C, showing more energy than just about any other act I witnessed on that stage. While I’m not always a fan of hardcore street rap, I couldn’t help but admire the stage command and level of enthusiasm they showed. Weasel Sims and the RAN Nation are definitely a group to watch in the future.