When the New York-based Governors Ball Festival released its lineup for 2015, I spent a good 15 minutes sifting through the names again and again looking for which hip-hop acts were coming through to Randall’s Island this year.
After the third or fourth combing, I resurfaced with five names: Logic, The People Under The Stairs, Atmosphere, Bishop Nehru, and Drake. I was in shock; Gov Ball had appeared to be building up its hip-hop presence over the course of the last two years, only to reduce it to a handful of small-time acts…and Drake. Not to diminish the reputation or validity of any of the MCs included, but…really? This is the best you’ve got, New York?
A music festival that takes place a stone’s throw away from The Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop culture and rap music, has barely anything to show for it? That’s troubling, even for a festival environment that caters to drunk affluent white kids.
Out of curiosity, I pull up the lineups for Coachella and Bonnaroo, two other summer music fests that take place in Indio, CA and Manchester, TN, respectively, and found a much wider array of MCs between the two: Run the Jewels, Action Bronson, Azealia Banks, Ab-Soul, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, Rae and Ghost, Vic Mensa, Shabazz Palaces, Dej Loaf, Lil’ B, Tyler The Creator, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar.
Every one of these artists are either up and comers or at the top of their respective games, a diverse platter of fresh and relevant faces in a genre that is currently dominating American culture. Hell, even Bonnaroo managed to book G-Eazy.
Don’t get me wrong, the general lineup is still decent. The aforementioned Drake is headlining, a legitimate superstar who’s finally ready to take the festival circuit by the horns, and whose large discography and limitless connections leave a lot of possibilities for guest stars, and the remaining acts have either a reputation or budding talent backing up their place on the list (on the other hand, Logic has the surprisingly healthy sales of his debut album Under Pressure to thank for his spot), the seeming abandonment of rap music in the 2015 Governors Ball lineup is a perplexing omission. I’m as stoked to see Weird Al Yankovic, Björk, and Flying Lotus as anyone else, but here are some MCs New York could’ve easily called to hold down Gov Ball 2015:
I wonder why this Brooklyn-based prodigy hasn’t been placing in every big festival this year. He’s received an unreal amount of hype for his lyrical skill, his solo mix tapes, and his collective Pro Era — and he’s not even 20 years old yet. His debut album B4.DA.$$ drops next week, so you’d figure that at least one festival spot, especially in his home city, would be in the cards.
K.R.I.T. is coming off the heels of his sophomore LP Cadillactica and a ton of good will from previous self-released/produced projects, so it’s easy to imagine him setting foot on one of the Gov Ball stages. Accessibility is one of the key factors to his discography, full of genuine bangers and more somber cuts, so he’d be an interesting addition to the Gov Ball lineup.
Together or separately, these two would be a sight to see. The Canadian jazz-hop trio and the legendary Wu-Tang MC are releasing a collaborative LP in February called Sour Soul that’s sure to turn some heads, so having them perform a short set early in the day seems plausible.
Snow Tha Product
A young up and comer from California, Snow’s energy and skill have been racking her millions of YouTube views and cross-country tours for the past two years or so. She’s currently working on her first EP and being in her corner on the ground floor would be a good look for everyone involved.
Look. He’s one of the hottest names in rap. We all know Kendrick plans on dropping his newest album this year. He wouldn’t have signed up for Bonnaroo if he wasn’t. How and why did you miss the opportunity to have this guy play Randall’s Island, Gov Ball?
As much of a lightning rod for controversy as she may be, the young Ms. Banks finally saw her oft-delayed debut album Broke With Expensive Taste release at the end of last year, and with her spot at Coachella, she’s clearly hungry for some exposure. The Harlemite could’ve been a steal for Gov Ball.
Chance The Rapper
He did play Gov Ball and just about every other festival under the sun last year, but it’s always good to have Chance and his band The Social Experiment come around. Their live show is unlike any other in the genre right now, and Chance has something even grander planned for the release of he and The Social Experiment’s latest release Surf coming later this year.
Watch that video and tell me you wouldn’t come to a festival just to be a part of that.
A Queens native whose live shows have been known to include free giveaways (pot, TVs and Xbox Ones), rapping from a port-a-potty, and other raucous goings-on that I can’t mention here? What’s not to recommend? Plus his debut studio album Mr. Wonderful drops in March, and Bam Bam would make sure to give Gov Ball a set it would never forget.
This Flatbush, Brooklyn-based duo is a part of the Beast Coast movement in hip-hop, and no one is doing psychedelic rap like these guys right now. With a debut album under their belts from last year, a collaborative EP and recently concluded US tour with fellow Beast Coasters Flatbush Zombies, and a zany old-school vibe, MCs AK and Issa Gold would’ve made a fine addition.
Dylan “CineMasai” Green is a movie geek, hip-hop aficionado, and pita chip enthusiast. Find him on Twitter.
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