You know the feeling you get when the DJ makes the last call for alcohol?
You know you probably don’t need another Blue Moon, but what the hell? You’re there; you may as well. Same goes for the A3C Festival. With more than enough acts to chose from, attendees staggered from one venue to the next looking for one last shot to keep them properly buzzed until next year.
Though the entire final day was full of joyful hip-hop activity, the most potent shots of the night belonged to Rakim, Mike Bigga (Killer Mike), J. Cole and … Grip Plyaz? (We’ll get to that later).
First stop: East Atlanta Icehouse headlined by Mike and Rakim. The place was packed to capacity (security wouldn’t even let Buckshot and DJ Evil Dee in, though, ironically, the DJ was playing their music to hype the crowd before Rakim’s set). At any rate, Mike proceeded to impress those who hadn’t seen him perform — you could practically see the “Wow, this guy can really rap!” expressions on newbies’ faces. While his set wasn’t as intense as last week’s when he opened for Slaughterhouse, God was definitely in the building.
By the time Rakim got on stage and opened with “Microphone Fiend,” there was barely any breathing room in the place, proving that everyone’s favorite MC to quote has staying power even after years of shelved albums and failed deals. Rakim killed the crowd, straight, no chaser.
While Mike and Rakim’s show was like a nice glass of Henny and Coke, the Perfect Attendance stage at the 5 Spot was more like a glass of bottom-shelf Long Island iced tea — not necessarily the smoothest drink, but guaranteed to help you reach your bottom line nevertheless. Featuring a slew of Internet rappers that mostly only blog heads would know and thoroughly enjoy, the night was full of activity, both planned and unplanned. After missing his set due to some “misunderstandings” and apparent schedule complications, everyone’s favorite non-hipster, Grip Plyaz, decided to rush the stage and perform anyway. While the crowd was amped to see him get into his current signature ditty, “Fuck Dat Hipster Shit,” he was cut short and forced from the stage, much to the disappointment of the crowd, which went nuts during his performance.
Grip may have provided the night’s drunk PBR moment (i.e. unexpectedly entertaining), but Jay-Z’s signee, J. Cole, was really the man of the hour. Fueled by the energy and response of the crowd, the “Fayette-nam,” N. C. rapper decided to go ahead and do one of his more poignant records, “Balance,” after performing his signature track, “Lights Please.” Closing with his verse from “A Star is Born” from Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3, J. definitely left the most lasting impression of the night.
Bobby Creekwater hit the stage directly after J.Cole, and though the crowd had already started to clear out (super lame), Creek amply demonstrated, once again, why he’s probably one of the most under-appreciated MCs in rap music. Just ask J. Cole, who animatedly declared that he’s “been on Creek for a while” before exiting the stage and watching him close the show and the festival properly with an especially rousing rendition of his groovy, perceptive song “Ms. Atlanta.”
With more performances and hip-hop activities than any of its previous years, the A3C Festival’s final night was a fitting culmination of the bright and dark spots of the three-day event. While some attendees declared that they were “hip-hopped out” and taking a vacation from rap for a minute, others seemed content to bask in the hip-hop haven, “battling” outside of the venues until the wee hours of the final night. No matter what the consensus, everyone left feeling drained but with a definite buzz.
Here’s hoping next year’s festival is just as intoxicating.
(Photo courtesy Dustin Chambers)