Photo By: Elias Zamudio For A3C Media Services
Lyricism is certainly still alive.
Earlier during the Friday night performances, Royce Da 5'9" said on the Main Stage that he believed his group Slaughterhouse and the label he's under, Shady Records, are the last of its kind. No catchy melodies or singing hooks, just a nice head nodding beat to accompany thought provoking bars for three to four minutes each song.
The acts of Torae, Mr. K-Wil and Skeme proved that the will continue to the traditional hip-hop fundamentals still exists. All three acts are rising underground artists, each with the potential to go mainstream eventually.
Mr. K-Wil is a very ironic artist. In between every song of his set, the Pasadena resident shouted out the west coast, but his sound is almost a mirror image of an east coast rapper. The hard-knocking rhythms his beats had gave a certain nostalgic feeling that could make the listener just move and maybe even Diddy bop.
Torae is the real deal. The New York native paid homage to the city of Atlanta by sportng a black throwback Deion Sanders Falcons jersey and hat. Perhaps the jersey was symbolism of his bars, because Torae brought his best stuff for the A3C fans in when it mattered most in Primetime. Throughout his set, he constantly reiterated to the attendees that he didn't plan any gimics or dances for his perfomance, just straight bars.
Photo By: Elias Zamudio for A3C Media Services
The artist out the trio with the greatest chance of going mainstream is Skeme. Another California native, Skeme came on stage a little after 1:00 a.m. and he opened with "36 Oz.," which features Chris Brown. Skeme fits in the most with the 2016 wave of mainstream hip-hop. He also makes the right collaraboration moves by joining forces with Lil Uzi Vert and DJ Drama this year. After the show, he described his style simply as "more lyricism than a lot of fans can handle." Beyond all of the autotune and party sound that his set had, Skeme might've been speaking the truth. You can take a detour to one of his lyric pages on genius and see how much he cares about his lyrics by explaining so many of his own lines.
2016 has brought back the reoccuring debate of what "real hip-hop" is defined as. Mumble rap and trap have dominated DJ sets all weekend long. Even in the same show as the aforementioned trio, perhaps the most crowd receptive performance came from So Flooded, an energetic collective from Baltimore. Radio spins and online numbers will show that mumble rap is obviously the most popular form for the younger hip hop generation today, but lyricism and the traditional practices still breathe. Torae and Skeme are verified on Twitter with a nice buzz and Mr. K-Wil definitely has a community that will embrace his style in greater numbers soon. Showcases like these will keep that light and growth on all of these artists to keep the "real hip-hop" in the mainstream alive outside the likes of Slaughterhouse and Pro Era.