For five consecutive days (October 2-6), the A3C Festival gave Atlanta a stream of straight hip-hop in a variety of forms -- from live broadcasts of the Combat Jack Show to screenings of indie films like 'Rats & More.’ There were showcases for independent artists and bigger stages to include the BET Music Matters event on Thursday that featured performances from Rapsody, Lecrae and Maybach Music Group’s Meek Mill.
Although the original ideal of including "All 3 Coasts" has matured into something much more, there were still a few shows that catered to specific cities, like Project: C.H.I. for native Chicagoans or Capitol Hill, specifically geared towards fans of artists representing the DMV.
The biggest shows brought out both longtime hip-hop fans as well as supporters of the genre’s newest generation. On Thursday night, droves of festival attendees flocked to Little 5 Point’s Variety Playhouse for a rare headline show from Ghostface Killah. Although no other members of the Wu-Tang Clan were present, Ghost proved that he could stand firmly on his own catalogue and put on a show to remember. For good measure, he brought out Sheek Louch of The LOX. As the two alternated between their own solo tracks, they incorporated Wu-Tang, LOX, and Wu Block songs into the set -- the crowd couldn’t get enough.
At the same time that was going on, across town, 2 Chainz graced the Street Execs stage at Quad to a bouncing crowd of dolled up women twerking under a thick cloud of wafting weed smoke.
This is the essence of A3C -- hundreds of artists representing hip-hop all over Atlanta. The only way to keep up is to plan your days down to the second, similarly to SXSW. Impromptu shows happen everywhere: the trio, Doorway,blocked off a street on Saturday night and threw a concert right there on the asphalt.
Just beyond that makeshift stage on Saturday night, ScHoolboy Q headlined the Revolt stage just after Chuck Inglish, Jarren Benton and his own TDE labelmate Jay Rock set the precedent for the evening with their own fiery sets. Q blazed through joints from his 'Setbacks’ project onward, stopping on occasion to rib random members of the audience.
After performing "My Hating Joint," he asked who in the crowd brought their lady with them to the show. When it was determined that only one guy came "boo-ed up," Q urged everyone to point at him ["The one in the black hat!"] and scream the hook. Then he quipped, "You ugly though. I’m just playing. I’m ugly too. That’s why I keep this bucket hat on like this. 'Cause if I took it off? Man!"
Not only did the A3C Festival draw aspiring artists from around the globe but this year’s five-day event pulled indie executives, producers and others on the climb as well as those well-established for everything from one-on-one panels to special events.
On Friday evening, Germany-based festival sponsor Native Instruments had an invite-only mixer to celebrate their newest product, Maschine. Young Guru, Justice League and 9th Wonder attended to play with the new toy, and excited by the concept of creating while, in effect, celebrating their chosen lane in hip-hop.
The live show side of A3C has always been something to anticipate but the educational portion of the five-day festival appealed to artists, producers and industry insiders who came out to take notes during panels and keynote interviews while veterans like Grand Hustle CEO Jason Geter dropped tips on how to maneuver through the industry. Pop-up shops boasted new pieces from fledging street wear companies and Heineken sponsored much of the festival’s live art portion.
Having served as the premiere festival for hip-hop in the southeastern region of the States for close to a decade, it seems A3C is gunning to be the biggest hip-hop festival in the world.