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Hip Hop Harambee at Nomad World Pub, 9/15/12

Talib Kweli was the headliner for the Hip Hop Harambee.
Talib Kweli was the headliner for the Hip Hop Harambee.
Photo by Erik Blume

Hip Hop Harambee

With Talib Kweli, Sims, Big Zach, and more
Nomad World Pub, Minneapolis
Saturday, September 15, 2012


Saturday's Hip Hop Harambee, an all day hip-hop block party held in the parking lot of the Nomad World Pub, was by all measures a success. You couldn't have asked for a better day to have an outdoor block party on the West Bank, as the weather stayed sunny and warm throughout the 8 hour event, and people definitely seemed excited by what stood to be one of the final outdoor concerts of the summer.

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Slideshow: Hip Hop Harambee

Up Rock on Abstract Pack, the EP, and the Hip Hop Harambee
Talib Kweli to headline Hip-Hop Harambee Block Party

The lineup consisted primarily of local rap acts, with a few genre twists that felt appropriate and kept the day's sound from getting stale. DJ Kool Akiem started off the day spinning tracks, and continued to do so between each of the 15 (!) sets. Before rushing over to the Electric Fetus for a Chalice set, Lizzo began the live music with a bang with her group the Larva Ink, playing a lively set to a relatively small crowd.

Hip Hop Harambee at Nomad World Pub, 9/15/12
Photo by Erik Blume

Long Doe's Mike the Martyr followed, running through a number of new tracks, including his verse off Flood Watch for "Shameless". The sets had fairly quick turnaround, with host Alicia Steele cutting in between to introduce artists, and as Meta took the stage next, the day's variety of styles really started to set in.

Meta manages to conform his flow and energy to any setting, but challenged himself and the audience by performing some heavier material concerning police brutality and his father's death. Closing with Meta May's"Senior," a powerful track written about his father on the very day he passed, the St. Paul rapper's strength was showcased as he turned what could have been a difficult song into something uplifting, moving, and dancable. With both his mother and new ears in the audience, it was clear he wanted to punch in a challenging set.


Hip Hop Harambee at Nomad World Pub, 9/15/12
Photo by Erik Blume

When Up Rock set up their MPCs and live drum set, it was clear they were going to bringing something unique. The former Abstract Pack duo brought a live show that matched the fun energy of their recent EP, and the feel was a seamless blend of electronics and old school party rocking, as both rappers play the role of producers and jumped back and forth between the two on stage.

Duenday followed, cementing the theme of revelry that underlined the day by providing their charismatic and positive vibe and boundless stage energy. The crowd was getting gradually thicker by this point. Sean Anonymous took stage afterwards and carried the torch with some tracks from his recent solo effort Anonymo and was later joined by DJ Snuggles, who provided vocalized beatbox scratches, and Tony Phantom, who helped Sean out with some Wide Eyes tracks.

Hip Hop Harambee at Nomad World Pub, 9/15/12
Photo by Erik Blume

Dimitry Killstorm of Wide Eyes got some play afterwards, as he provided beats for Haphduzn's upcoming album, and the tracks sounded great in a live setting. Haph's tall frame and bassy voice made for a big presence, especially on the single "Brand New Nostalgia," whose whistling music history lesson felt like a fitting intro to connecting following bomba act Bomba Umoya to the overall sound of the day. The not-rap was a refreshing pause from the back-to-back whomp of MCs, but it sunk into the day's sound well and broadened the scope of what is considered the "hip-hop community".


 
The debut set of Greg Grease and Freez's group effort Grittee Committee came shortly after and hit hard despite tracks being generally chilled and soulful. The rappers, each clutching 40s, bounced between a solid set of new and reworked material with spitfire raps that managed to maintain a smooth vibe. Young guns Audio Perm followed and couldn't help but bring the manic energy their shows are known for, bouncing with style and purpose and clearly having a ton of fun. Unfuh Qwittable spit an especially deep track dissecting Waka Flocka's white fanbase over "Bussin'," which solidified the crew as a fun and energetic unit but also remarkably thoughtful and poilitcally-minded. Styles switched up once again as singer Mankwe took the stage with Medium Zach of Big Quarters, who produced her stunning debut album that dropped recently. As Zach manned the beats and live synth, Mankwe laid down some impressive vocals that showcased her remarkable talent as a songwriter and performer. Co-organizer of the block party Manny Phesto hopped up next to give a laid-back set of new material from an EP that dropped today as a thank you to those that made it to the Harambee. 
Hip Hop Harambee at Nomad World Pub, 9/15/12
Photo by Erik Blume

The crowd had nearly grown to the size of the parking lot by this time (with plenty more in the Nomad itself buying drinks), and Big Zach got to play a tight set with many guest artists to a full and eager crowd. By the time Sims hit the stage, the crowd energy was huge. As Lazerbeak beat the MPC with fierce fingers, Sims mixed the political with the party and managed to explode the fun atmosphere of the crowd with one of the best sets I've seen him do. With a mix of Bad Time Zoo efforts as well as classics and Doomtree verses, Sims proved once again just how strong a footprint his crew has in this city, and deservedly so.
Hip Hop Harambee at Nomad World Pub, 9/15/12
Photo by Erik Blume

The crowd was completely amped by the time Talib Kweli hit the stage, with full band in tow, and he gave back just as much to them. Talib leaned towards some of his newer material, seemingly trying to break his "conscious" label with songs including a re-worked cover of "Rack City," which sounded pretty great even next to classics like "Get By." Talib's set was tight and allowed for his lyrical footwork to take the center of a strong live band, who each got a voice during a solo portion later on in the set. This was some of the best crowd energy I've seen in some time.

Hip Hop Harambee at Nomad World Pub, 9/15/12
Photo by Erik Blume

Personal Bias: The concert was back-to-back impressive, and ended on a big note with a big name outside artist, who clearly appreciated the atmosphere of the festival. This was not some corporate-sponsored block party out for a dollar; this had a real community feel that accentuated a love of music and connecting people.

The Crowd: Most of the artists throughout the day walked around the parking lot, vibing with old friends and making new ones. It was easy to feel part of the whole thing, no matter your role, and it was evident from the smiles on everyone's faces that this will be one they'll remember.


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