Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Governor's Ball 2013

This past weekend was the annual Governor's Ball at Randall's Island in NYC. Usually a popular rock festival, this year the lineup had some of the hottest MCs and legends in the game. Erykah Badu graced the Sky Vodka stage first and despite the hurricane warnings and swimming pools of mud that surrounded the stage, she was just as beautiful as I imagined her to be. Performing "Window Seat" and many other R&B classics, it made the almost impossible trip worth it.

Saturday had much better weather, although the dirt park was still incredibly muddy and almost unbearable to move in. Azealia Banks was the first Hip Hop artist to take the stage and she gave a feisty performance that was upbeat and flashy. She addressed the controversy of her making a remix to "Harlem Shake" claiming her Harlem upbringing made it appropriate. With lots of lights and energetic dance routines, the crowd was raging even as early as 6PM.

Kendrick Lamar followed Banks' set at the Honda stage and the combination of his chill demeanor and low acoustics made his performance sub par. The crowd was packed and eager for Kendrick's set, but even close to the stage, his sound was way too low. Most of his songs are not hype anyways and experiencing Kendrick at other locations, he clearly feeds off the crowd's energy. The NYC crowd knew most of his radio records, but were unfamiliar with a lot of the Section.80 tracks he performed. Kendrick was not able to turn up without the crowd's participation and I, along with other K.Dot fans were left disappointed. Still an amazing artist, his performance was unmemorable, especially compared to the stellar acts of the weekend.

Hip Hop fans were brought back to life with Nas' performance, which closed the festival on Saturday evening. He is one of the most charming performers I have ever seen, transitioning seamlessly between classic Nas tracks as well as interspersing hits from Life is Good. The fans were able to sing along to some of his greatest hits such as "One Mic," "If I Ruled the World," "Life's a Bitch," "Represent," "It Ain't Hard To Tell," "NY State of Mind," "The World is Yours," and "Hate Me Now." The crowd went crazy as did he thirty second excerpts from what he called "here's another classic." Nas stole the show Saturday and had one of the top performances of the festival.

Freddie "Gangsta" Gibbs, Gary Clark Jr. and Grizzly Bear all performed Sunday, the final day of the festival. All three performances brought completely different energies and yet all were equally amazing. Gibbs brought gangsta rap to the island, Gary Clark Jr. showcased his unbelievable guitar skills and Grizzly Bear serenaded the crowd with their beautiful vocals and experimental sound. However, there was only one performance that moved tens of thousands of people raising their hands to the sky in a cult-like trance. Mr. West was in the building and his set was the greatest musical moment of my life.

Of course gracing the main stage twenty minutes late, he began with unreleased tracks from his upcoming album Yeezus. With startling visuals of Kanye accompanied by two other black men in traditional looking KKK hoods that were instead black, he entranced the crowd from the beginning. He literally parted the red sea of people and walked to an elevated staircase in the middle of the park where he performed classic after classic. The entire crowd shouted the words to "Power," "Theraflu," "Don't Like," "Jesus Walks," "Stronger," "Wait till I get my Money Right," "Say You Will," "Heartbreak," "Flashing Lights," "All Falls Down," and "All of the Lights." And before performing "Clique," he discussed his upcoming album and new mentality in the music game. "You know with this album, we ain't drop no single for radio...but honestly at this point when I listen to radio, that ain't where I wanna be no more. Honestly at this point, I could give a fuck about selling a million records as long as I can put out an album for the summer that y'all can rock to all motherfucking summer." His powerful words moved the crowd from dead silence hanging onto his every word to uncontrollable applause. Kanye has been seen as completely off the wall in the media lately, with his relationship, screaming at concerts, and his incomparable cockiness. But it was this moment, where the thousands of Kanye fans were restored. At the end of the day, it's all about the music and that's all we can ask for.

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