Glowing alien-esque pyramids, five bass-pounding stages strapped with futuristic lasers shooting across the eerie sky – III Points quite literally intersected music, art and technology; an exceptional concoction for a weekend.
Being a self-proclaimed rap nerd of Mind Equals Blown, I was skeptical when approaching the festival, only to find a new appreciation for the EDM environment and the simple pleasure of good performers, regardless if I even heard the artists’ name let alone music.
With III Points being an EDM-heavy event, the notable rap performances by Run The Jewels, MF Doom + Ghostface Killah, Robb Bank$, Jay Electronica and Goldlink, still managed to flow and fit the groove of the other genres’ representers, proving that hip-hop stands strong even in a growing dance scene.
Robb Bank$ – Regardless of genre, any set that starts off with “Everyone is gunna leave here bleeding!!” is not going to be any middle school talent show. Robb Bank$ brought that hype, turn up, whatever you want to call it factor to Friday’s muggy-ass night. Despite the humidity, the Florida native commanded the fans to open the pit before every song, leaving mini groups of kids throwing fists, elbows and drips of sweat while Banks screamed his verses on stage. He mainly spit the heavy-hitters off his long-awaited album Year Of The Savage; III Points attendees chanting hardcore anthems such as “Buku,” “Wit,” “Leatherface” and “Pressure” show that Robb Bank$’ album has a lot of potential in the underground and that he’s a staple in SoFlo hip-hop. Like he said, “Who the fuck made throwing up the ‘L’ cool?” Peep the havoc below.
— Mind Equals Blown (@mindequalsblown) October 14, 2015
Run The Jewels – Arguably the best hip-hop performance. Not just out of all the hip-hop acts, but in the III Points line-up in general. If this unorthodox duo came out in ’06, NaS wouldn’t have boldly stated that “Hip-hop is dead,” because he would’ve been reminded of Run The Jewels. The cult-following that swarmed the in-door Mainframe stage for Killer Mike & El-P is living proof that the idea of real hip-hop being dope beats and thought-provoking lyricism is still alive. And it was hard. Songs that felt like were meant to be played live were performed. Before introducing each song with a small anecdote, mosh pit enabling songs such as “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck),” Pew Pew Pew” and the politically driven “Early” had the fans either raving hard or throwing up the gun and fist hand position while being hypnotized by Mike and P’s vocal delivery. Mike also showed appreciation and loyalty to the fans by directing the audience to take a few steps back from the stage as safetly procedure right before El-P hugged him from the side and said “He’s my brother….” Awwww.
MF Doom + Ghostface Killah – Definitely the most polarizing performance of the weekend. According to the III Points press release, the two rappers were suppose to conduct an interactive performance, where Doom would perform live through a screen and Ghost will be on stage performing tracks from their forthcoming duo project DOOMSTARKS. But unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Metal Fingers showed up on the screen to play a mix of some tropical music that felt underwhelming and dragged out. The momentum picked up when the screen transitioned to a dark room where Doom appeared holding a mic, spittin’ classics off his critically-acclaimed MM.. Food album. You can hear hardcore MF fans spittin’ along to songs such as “Beef Rap” and “Hoe Cakes” then disappear on screen. Felt awkward as the fans started winding down with energy and just watched as MF Doom stared into the camera mouthing out his lyrics.
Ghostface saved the show by steppin’ on stage showing great gratitude for being able to perform over 20 years after Wu-Tang Clan dropped their cult-classic Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The Shaolin wordsmith wasted no time and went into his classic contribution songs like “Criminology” and “Ice Cream” from fellow Wu-brother Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Ghost’s set felt rushed but he definitely knew what the fans love to hear as he performed Wu-Tang classics he wasn’t even on such as “C.R.E.A.M,” “Wu-Tang Clan Aint Nuttin’ to F’ Wit’,” and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” The crowd was hype, especially after Doom’s very quiet reception.
It may not have been III Points’ fault, but the duo’s performance was underwhelming and overhyped as fans wanted to see the televised Doom perform with Ghost to preview new music, but sadly that didn’t pan out. Perhaps when the festival staff announced the press release about the collaborative DOOMSTARKS set, some complications occurred that prevented the duo’s interactive performance.
Goldlink – If Run The Jewels didn’t turn the Mainframe stage into a jump-off, this Washington DC-native did. Goldlink showed the crowd that there are different characteristics to a rapper vs MC: rapper meaning he or she can spit rhymes and MC meaning the rapper can move the crowd, the DMV rapper did both, but “move the crowd” would be an understatement in his case. Link yelled “We’re going to turn this warehouse into a house party!” No over-exaggeration. With the help of DJ Kidd Marvel, Goldlink turned the small crowd into an intimate one by rocking out with the fans to classic throwback gems such as Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg’s “The Next Episode,” Busta Rhymes’ “Pass the Courvoisier Part 2,” 2 Live Crew’s “We Want Some Pussy” and even Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which ensued a mosh pit fueled by nostalgia and pure excitement to hear at a hip-hop show. It also helped that Goldlink’s aesthetic is somewhere between A Tribe Called Quest’s instrumentation and 2 Live Crew’s call-and-response style songs, which performs well in large-crowd participation settings.
Goldlink also stood on his own feet with original work such as “Dance On Me,” “Sober Thoughts” and “Bedtime Story.” Although not many III Points attendees were swarming the stage like during RTJ or Ghostface, but Goldlink definitely made an impression and new fans as he presented a very intimate vibe by partying and rocking out with the fans rather than letting the audience watch him on a platform.
— Mind Equals Blown (@mindequalsblown) October 16, 2015
Jay Electronica – As III Points was coming to a close on a cool-winded Sunday night, the event started to feel slower, probably because it was the third concert day, fans are worn out and not everyone is ’bout that festival life. It was fairly calm, even dead throughout the night until around 8 pm hit and Jay Electronica fans were fast-walking and scurrying around kids still lingering from the previous set to get to the front. They probably weren’t expecting so much mayhem.
Essentially the only rapper to have a cult-following with no album and an average of one guest feature a year, Jay Electronica walked on stage only to be welcomed by people throwing up the Roc-diamond hand signs. Jay spit acapella but only to cut himself short to vent his appreciation for Florida. The New Orleans rep went on to say that after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, his friends and family moved and found a home in Miami. He also stated that Katrina was a conspiracy theory to endanger his people. Probably because he admitted to being drunk, Jay Elec sounded very emotional when expressing gratitude for his fans and the city he was about to tear apart lyrically.
Jay let the attendees know what he was about when he calmly, but boldly said “I’m not here to turn up, to get wavy, I’m here to spit bars!” After spitting “Exhibit A (Transformations)” he broke down his lyrics and paid homage to J Dilla. Before starting a R.I.P. Dilla chant, he started letting fans on stage to share his famous 5% nation chain, let all the photographers on stage, then thought “Fuck it,” and told the crowd that anyone who wishes to be on stage to stand next to him. This was a nightmare for security. Of course I was one of the first people to react then felt someone holding my backpack as I struggled to climb over people, it was a security guard who ultimately let go and half of the building population was standing next to Jay.
— Norman B. Galang (@normgalang) October 16, 2015
Jay ordered the security to “let them up, let them up” and turned around at all his admirers and said “Y’all take y’all phones out and get y’all Snapchats and Instagrams ready” then thanked the III Points staffers for being so cooperative about this huge security burden that they probably weren’t expecting.
Jay Electronica continued on with the show, his DJ threw on Biggie’s “Kick In The Door” instrumental and let a few fans freestyle on stage. Very unorthodox show to say the least! After security kicked everyone off, Jay Elec started dropping the classics that made people fall in love with him. Fans screaming out to “Eternal Sunshine,” “We Made It” and of course “Exhibit C.” Jay had no ego or fear, he even jumped into the crowd during most of his songs. A true people’s MC.
As a hip-hop fan, I’m very proud of the rappers’ ability to blend and feel the crowd, as III Points creates an atmosphere that draws open-minded music lovers who don’t take themselves too seriously or rock obnoxious rave-type costumes that look like they would start an electrical fire if it rained. The festival is just small enough where the crowds still feel intimate, but big enough to leave an impression that’ll make you want to return and invite more of your friends next year.
*Feature image provided by Jason Koerner.