Concert preview: Powerfest vs. Polar Showcase: Two big hip-hop shows, one Sunday night

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From the August 29, 2013 edition

It’s Labor Day weekend, so Sunday isn’t a school night — as if the prospect of work or class the next morning would keep Columbus hip-hop heads from checking one of the big rap shows going down Sept. 1.

There’s a difference in scale, for sure: Powerfest, FMhip-hop and R&B bastion Power 107.5’s annual shindig at LC Pavilion, features several nationally known stars and benefits from wall-to-wall exposure on one of the city’s most popular radio stations. On the other hand, DJ and producer J. Rawls’ second annual Polar Showcasean underground legend and a lineup stacked withmostly locals, and ilacks the promotional muscle of Black Planet Radio affiliate. It’s grassroots!

Still, that’s two highly notable choices for lovers of beats, rhymes and life. Let’s compare.

Headliner: Powerfest headlinerB.o.B. borrowed his name from arguably the greatest Outkast single of all time, but he lacks a single iota of that group’s fundamentally astonishing, boundary-pushing brilliance. In contrast, Masta Ace of the legendary Juice Cre — a Brownsville bruiser whose wordplay inspired Eminem among many others — tops the Polar Showcase bill Your average 2013 rap fan is more likely to recognize songs from B.o.B.’s set, though; he’s got some pop power behind him (“Airplanes,” anybody?).

Local appeal:Powerfest performers Machine Gun Kelly and Ray Jr. hail from Cleveland and have climbed higher in the music biz than any of the Columbus talent on the Polar Showcase. But that Columbus talent? Mighty talented! P. Blackk is rightfully universally beloved;The 3rd has been doing it (and doing it well) for years; S.P.I.R.I.T. has been doing so for even more years. Jai Carey PATH are promising young talents.

Other big names: Neither Ace Hood orSevyn Streeter of Powerfest is a star, per se, but both have some decent radio hits to their name, most notably Hood’s powerhouse Future/Rick Ross collabo “Bugatti.”Wordsworth, a freestyle master and a member of eMC with Masta Ace, leads the supporting talent at Polar Showcase.

Price: Hard to beat the Polar Showcase price: free for the afternoon, $10 for the late show with Masta Ace, Wordsworth and S.P.I.R.I.T. Powerfest will cost you $32.50 for lawn or $52.50 for pit, and prices go up by $10 Friday.

Venue: Double Happiness is one of the tiniest performance spaces in Columbus. LC Pavilion is one of the largest. Both settings can produce magic moments.