Three must-sees at 2x2

In addition to the Nes Wordz tribute, which should be a can't-miss for local hip-hop fans, the steadily growing 2x2 Festival is serving up another great lineup of local, regional and even national acts. Here are three more artists that attendees should make sure to catch.

Cannibal Ox

The Harlem, New York duo of Vast Aire and Vordul Mega achieved legend status with the 2001 release of The Cold Vein, the first full-length on Definitive Jux and a tone-setter for the forward-looking (and currently on hiatus) indie hip-hop label. After a 14-year absence, the group returned in 2015 with Blade of the Ronin, an appropriately sharp effort that, much like Jim Jarmusch's “Ghost Dog,” melds samurai mythology with street-level observations. “A stray bullet's such an unwanted gift,” Aire raps on “Opposite of Desolate.” He's not wrong, either.

Wordsworth

The Brooklyn MC borrowed his stage name from a famed English Romantic poet (that would be William Wordsworth). Thankfully he has the vocabulary to back up this bit of hubris, flashing his whip-smart, “Lyricist Lounge”-tested wordplay with guest appearances on cuts by A Tribe Called Quest and Black Star before releasing his solo debut, Mirror Music, in 2004. While the album revealed the rapper had the depth to carry a full-length (the struggle is reflected throughout Mirror), I still prefer Wordsworth when he's at his most irreverent. Expect a dose of each side of his personality here.

TrigNO

The Columbus MC doesn't shy from the odd cornball joke (“I mention Buster Douglas in a bar/That's a punch-line,” he raps on the Satele-produced “4RealThisTime”), but on TrigkNOw TOO, from 2016, TrigNO reveals himself as a growing force, delivering sometimes surrealistic, freeform lines that seem to escape his mouth the precise instant a thought forms in his head. It ought to be thrilling to see where he is a year from now.