Fact: Our hip-hop community is strong enough to support one of the country’s biggest underground music festivals. Local record label Rhymesayers launched Soundset in 2008 with a stacked lineup of friends and family, including Dilated Peoples, Aesop Rock, Little Brother, Beat Junkies, and Minneapolis’ own P.O.S. It’s been a Memorial Day weekend mainstay ever since, quickly outgrowing its original home at the Metrodome parking lot and hosting such major headliners as Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, and J. Cole at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.
The 2019 event was spread across five stages at Soundset’s most natural habitat: the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, its home since 2016. The day started off strong with a spry set from The Klituation founder DJ Keezy, whose backup dancers and crate full of classics helped everyone forget it wasn’t even noon yet. Early risers were also rewarded by a captivating performance from St. Paul singer Dua Saleh, who slayed the soft-lit, tightly edited tracks from their recent Nūr EP.
The rest of the bill was a welcome balancing act between emerging and well-established artists, including Rhymesayers co-founder Atmosphere, rock star rapper Lil Wayne, breakout R&B star Sza, the rabble-rousing duo Run the Jewels, and Twin Cities staples Dessa, Prof, and Dem Atlas.
The festival also did what it does best throughout the day: celebrate hip-hop culture itself, from a midway full of custom, tricked-out cars to a tent that hosted beat-juggling DJs and gravity-defying breakdancers. Or, as Atmosphere wrote in a post-festival Tweet, “I love when all of my beautiful friends from outta town show up and experience all of my amazing friends who live here. I am grateful for all of the communities that welcome me in. I live and love the Twin Cities. See you next Soundset, yo.”