Five can't-miss acts from two days of hip-hop and EDM
Following a two-year hiatus and a year spent at the Ohio Expo Center, Breakaway Music Festival returns to the Mapfre Stadium stomping grounds at which it debuted in 2013. But the fest taking over the Crew SC stadium on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 1 and 2, bears only a passing resemblance to its forbear, which featured a diverse roster of rappers (Kendrick Lamar), rockers (Twenty One Pilots) and electronic musicians (Bassnectar). Gone, for now, are the guitars, with promoters focused almost exclusively on up-and-coming hip-hop and EDM acts that should collide to create a festival vibe in-line with director Harmony Korine's “Spring Breakers.” Here's a quick rundown of five sets attendees won't want to miss.
9:45 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1
Travis Scott's 2016 long-player Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (an album as loopy as its title suggests) serves as a showcase for the Houston rapper's impressive Rolodex, roping in guest appearances from Andre 3000 (breathtaking on “the ends”), Kendrick Lamar (playing the master-to-apprentice role to perfection on “goosebumps”) and 21 Savage (brutal, blunt on “outside”). As a curator and host, Scott is tops, helping craft a woozy, drug-addled, trap-hop funhouse. And though the MC's worldview remains narrow (songs tend to focus on the same two or three topics), his lyrical skills are gradually expanding. Here's hoping the momentum carries through to this solo appearance, where he won't have the benefit of a shared spotlight.
8:40 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1
The 19-year-old, who arrives here in support of Teenage Emotions, from 2017, is a polarizing figure in the rap world, feuding with Joe Budden and professing ignorance for hip-hop history (he told Billboard he couldn't name five songs by Tupac Shakur or Notorious B.I.G. while describing the latter as “overrated,” a statement for which he later issued an apology) while releasing giddy, off-kilter, generally off-key Insta-raps that can come on like bawdy nursery rhymes.
8:05 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2
The Washington, D.C. rapper titled his latest At What Cost, and within he sets about answering the question, exploring the side effects of the gentrification reshaping his hometown and threatening to erase certain cultural corners. Tracks venture from city slums (“We Will Never Die”) to newly constructed penthouses (the fridge full of finer things on “The Parable of the Rich Man”) — a hit-all-corners approach that also applies to the music, which hopscotches through various eras of the D.C. sound.
9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2
The Norwegian DJ, born Magnus August Hoiberg, has long flirted with pop-crossover success, collaborating with Lana Del Rey, Britney Spears and Drake, to name a few. On 9, released earlier this year, the knob-turner with a fondness for lush, orchestral backdrops calls on big names (Ariana Grande, the Weeknd) to construct a world in miniature. These aren't outsized beats meant to shake foundations, but more intricate cuts structured for low-key bliss-outs.
6:20 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2
A glance at the tracklist to Playboi Carti's self-titled 2017 album reveals the Atlanta rapper's awareness of trending-topic culture (see: “wokeuplikethis*”). Fittingly, the lyrical content of most songs could practically be jammed into a single, 140-character tweet. Rather than expounding, Carti relies heavily on repetition, reciting certain passages until they ping-pong through your skull like the “Lisa needs braces” scene from “The Simpsons.” Listen to “Half & Half” and it's a near certainty you'll find yourself muttering, “this is not pop, this some rock” at some point in your day.