Playboi Carti, Rich Homie Quan & A-Trak Dazzle at Day 1 of A3C Festival

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Playboi Carti performs onstage during the BET Hip Hop Awards 2017 at The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre on Oct. 6, 2017 in Miami Beach, Florida.

On Saturday afternoon (Oct. 7), hip-hop fans gathered in downtown Atlanta at the Georgia Freight Depot to kick off the 13th year of the A3C Festival. While there was a certain level of reverence at the Loudermilk Conference Center earlier in the week -- between live Q&As, meet and greets and carefully curated panels -- the weekend would feature ‘the turn up.’

To get things started, Project Pat strolled out on stage with the confidence of a longtime rap veteran. He moved through hits like, “Poppin' My Collar” and “Sippin’ on Some Syrup,” paying homage to Pimp C on the latter. By this time, the crowd was warmed up and prepped for an evening of heavy basslines and Snapchat-worthy moments.

Fool's Gold legend, A-Trak, started his set, contorting familiar hip-hop instrumentals in ways we haven’t heard, scratching and mixing them with booming EDM beats. There were women in cat ears, others in Kente cloth headwraps and body conscious dresses, all looking beautiful in their respective outfits. 

The younger generation of artists from Atlanta had their spot in the sun on Saturday evening as well. Kodie Shane, Hoodrich Pablo Juan and Man Man Savage all had individual sets. Savage brought an entourage with him onstage. One man from said entourage, grabbed the microphone after one track and screamed, “I’m 100% Hispanic, I know I look white. I’m not!” The crowd stood, blinking in confusion. A few people tittered in the VIP area.

Atlantic Records signee, Kap G — also part of this younger Atlanta class — commanded the stage with the control of someone who’s been on tour for the better part of three to four years. A few Mexican flag bandanas were spotted throughout the crowd and when Kap asked his "day one" fans to holler, they did as they were told. He was sure to perform tracks from his latest project, Super Jefe (“Motivation,” “Rings”) while onstage, but by the time the instrumental dropped for his biggest hit “Girlfriend,” Kap had made his way below, to a pocket of the crowd that jumped along with him.

Producer Zaytoven was up next, running through smash records, from OJ the Juiceman’s “Bricks” to Rich Gang’s “Imma Ride.” “I’ma give y’all a history lesson,” he said between sets. “Who remembers my first hit?” The synths revved up for Gucci Mane’s breakthrough record “So Icy” and the crowd was re-energized, bobbing ecstatically.

Meanwhile, Rich Homie Quan sat backstage, in the middle of his circle, quietly waiting on his turn. When it was time, he bound out onstage performing cuts like “Reloaded,” “Type of Way” and “Replay.” The Motown signee performed each song with the same level of excitement and festival goers were into it but it also seemed like they were waiting on one song in particular. The beat dropped for his latest cut “Gamble” and Quan hit his sweet spot. Inflatable balls went flying. A fan in front of the stage handed him her phone and the rapper took some video footage of himself spitting before handing it back to her, never breaking his stride.

DJ Drama and Don Cannon closed out the main stage on its first night and it was only fitting to have a couple of DJs, integral to the Atlanta rap scene, put a cap on Fools Gold Day Off in the city they came up in. After spinning a few big records, the pair had some surprises in store for the crowd.

Up-and-comers Lil Baby and 24HRS hung out backstage. Derez Deshon made his main stage debut with his performance of “Hardaway,” which is rapidly gaining momentum. Grand Hustle’s Young Dro hit the stage performing “FDB” and “Ain’t I.” But the party wasn’t over before Playboi Carti mobbed the stage with “Woke Up” and “Magnolia.” The crowd rippled with elation. Drama couldn’t contain himself and danced mid-stage to the entire track, punctuating a party-heavy day one.