Hip-hop fans flocked to Atlanta this past week for the 10th annual A3C Festival, which proved to be bigger than ever. Over the course of five days (Oct. 8 through 12), the festival held keynote interviews, panels, showcases and tribute shows across the city.
The festival started off strong on Oct. 8, as Noisey brought their eclectic tastes down to the Peach State. The show, at Quad downtown, was to be headlined by ILoveMakonnen, who never touched the stage but was spotted outside the venue before his set.
The host that evening drew attention to that fact around 2:30 a.m., stating, “He doesn’t respect y’all enough to turn up with y’all.” The audience hooted in frustration. “It’s OK,” he continued. “We’re just gonna turn up without [Makonnen].” New artists like Runway Richy and Bankroll Fresh shared the stage with more established emcees like Funk Volume’s Jarren Benton and Atlantic Records signee Que. Even Waka Flocka Flame dropped in for a special appearance. The crowd response was lukewarm, but the rapper gave it his all, flailing his dreads emphatically during his set.
Just across the way, B.o.B hosted a stage for his new imprint No Genre at the 3rd Street Armory. The lineup included everyone from indie artist Scotty ATL. Yo Gotti’s artist Wave Chappelle to one of Bobby Ray’s newest signees, Jake Lambo. A couple of members of B.o.B.’s Hustle Gang family, Zuse and Spodee, set the night’s energized tone.
The evening was heavy with artists; as soon as B.o.B made his way through the second track with “Lambo,” the sound blew out. By the time it had been re-established, some of the crowd’s momentum had died down and many were unsure of whether the show would indeed go on. B.o.B. and Jake Lambo picked up where they left off. He also brought out Mike Fresh for their collaborative effort “Cranberry Moonwalk.” Judging from his demeanor, Bobby Ray may have been slightly annoyed by the technical difficulties but maintained his cool, closing the show as if he was performing for a few million instead of a couple hundred.
Although there had to have been at least 30 independent artists who performed on Thursday, the crowd came out to the Quad in the evening primarily for 2 Chainz and his imprint, Street Execs. Young Dolph, whose fanbase is growing exponentially, capitalized on the success of his “Preach” single, setting the Street Execs up for an easy win. Cap 1 followed with a few of his most popular street singles, including “Reckless” and “Bird Bath.”
2 Chainz closed the show with a rundown of crowd favorites — in chronological order. From his days at Ludacris‘ Disturbing Tha Peace label to his Codeine Cowboy mixtape stint, he was sure to tap into exactly what his hometown fanbase wanted to hear from him, sans the glitz and glamour.
On Friday, BET hosted the Music Matters show at A3C’s main stage. The headliners, Mystikal and Juvenile, performed for a field full of concertgoers varying in age and regional background. Regardless of where the accents in the crowd derived from, all the attendees were more than willing to bounce to “Here I Go” or follow Juve’s instruction on “Back That Azz Up.”
Across town, Project Pat and Pastor Troy had the Basement in East Atlanta packed with their Southern Hospitality show.
There were educational presentations and panels all week long, but on Saturday afternoon, there were a few more notable panels at the festival’s base location, midtown’s Crowne Plaza Hotel. From the Why We Aren’t Hearing Your Music panel to the Women of Hip-Hop talk with panelists such as Karen Civil and Deb Antney, Saturday proved that A3C is about much more than stage shows. In fact, there were screening rooms set up to premiere films and various videos from independent artists.
On Saturday evening, the main stage was the setting for Mass Appeal’s Pimp C tribute, hosted by Maurice Garland and led by Bun B, who vehemently made a point of giving the credit to his late partner’s wife for the show’s setup. Performers included Twista, Goodie Mob‘s Big Gipp, 8Ball and MJG and, of course, Bun B. After running through a few UGK classics such as “Pocket Full of Stones,” it became apparent, if one hadn’t already acknowledged it, that Bun B’s stage skills have become more polished as the years go by, all while continuing to represent for Pimp C without pause.
By Sunday, the citywide buzz was winding down. Talib Kweli and Black Thought headlined the Okay Player-sponsored Best Block Party Ever. Between sets, turntablists DJ Jaycee, Prince Paul and Kid Capri wowed the crowd with their quick and steady hands on wax.