Coachella has stacks on stacks of great hip-hop

by Ryo Miyauchi

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is not filled with just indie acts and big-name DJs. Here are hip-hop acts festival goers should check out:


Earl Sweatshirt (Friday)

Choice Song: “Earl”

After being sent to Samoa, Earl Sweatshirt returned home to reunite with his Los Angeles rap crew Odd Future in 2012. He’s been one of the most talked about rappers ever since Odd Future begin attracting attention. It only takes one listen of Sweatshirt’s album “Earl” to catch on to his lyrical talent. Even with his prior-obsession with shock and gore, his syllable-heavy rhymes are controlled with superb skill. Although his catalog is small, seeing Earl Sweatshirt perform should please any fan.

Aesop Rock (Friday)

Choice Song: “None Shall Pass”

From his start as a member of underground rap label Definitive Jux, Aesop Rock flipped eccentric poetry into unconventional schemes. Aesop Rock has been going strong despite the decline of the underground rap scene, smoothening out his unique rap style with each release. His recent album “Skelethon” is excellently paced in delivery and easier to follow than his previous albums, while still keeping his tense vibe. The choice track “None Shall Pass” from his 2007 album of the same name hits harder than singles from “Skelethon” and may be a more instant gateway for Aesop Rock.

Jurassic 5 (Friday)

Choice Song: “Concrete Schoolyard”

By the late 2000s, the LA collective Jurassic 5 was one of the prominent names of an alternative hip-hop circle—a type of hip-hop detached from the mainstream obsession with commercialism and materialism. The crew’s focus was a back-to-their-roots approach, a laid-back style of both production and emceeing. Jurassic 5 recently announced a reunion after breaking up in 2007 because of musical differences. For rap fans who prefer a more traditional line of smooth sample-based hip-hop, Jurassic 5 may be a great trip down memory lane.

Danny Brown (Saturday)

Choice Song: “Lie4”

Detroit’s very own Danny Brown is sort of a late-bloomer in a scene where rappers often turn into stars before they can legally drink. But Danny Brown is not one to be underestimated. His breakthrough album “XXX” quickly turned the rapper from local star into an unforgettable personality on the rise. Music listeners don’t forget a yappy voice such as Danny Brown. He sounds like a goofball, especially with his dirty punch lines in “XXX,” but his introspective raps leaves a harsh impression. It’s a rugged and wild party inside the furious mind of Danny Brown.

El-P (Saturday)

Choice Song: “Drones Over Bklyn”

When El-P folded his monumental underground rap label Def Jux, it felt like an end of an era. The rapper didn’t stop working. He was found hanging out with the current weird order of rap like Mr. MFN eXquire and Das Racist. If El-P wasn’t with them, he was producing for Atlanta rapper Killer Mike for 2012’s arguably best rap collaboration R.A.P. Music. In addition to that, El-P managed to drop the full-length “Cancer 4 Cure,” his first since 2007. He continued to push dense diction on his dystopian production with fresher wit for the new year. The former underground leader is still hard at work and should satisfy both the old and new hip-hop followers.

Action Bronson (Saturday)

Choice Song: “Pouches of Tuna” (feat. Roc Marciano)

I know what you may be thinking. Action Bronson’s hushed voice is extremely reminiscent of Ghostface Killah’s. His love for syllable-cramming and nonsequiturs doesn’t help either. I assure you Action Bronson stands as a show stopping presence regardless of the resemblance. His raps are filled with hilarious sex talk, chef lingo and obnoxious boasts on top of classy sample-geared productions. Check him out on his over-the-top mixtape “Blue Chips,” or in collaboration with The Alchemist on “Rare Chandeliers,” two hip-hop favorites of 2012.

Pusha T (Saturday)

Choice Song: “New God Flow” (ft. Kanye West)

Pusha T’s trademark “ughck!” tells you what you’re in for. As one half of rap duo Clipse, Pusha-T was known as the harsher brother dropping venomous cocaine rap with his slithering voice. Since Clipse went on hiatus, the rapper recorded solo tracks. Now, Pusha T is Kanye West’s unofficial right-hand man. Pusha’s verse on “New God Flow” from the G.O.O.D. Music compilation “Cruel Summer” has him dropping the heaviest delivery with a threatening persona. Look no further than Pusha T for hard-hitting raps marked with that harsh “ughck!”

2 Chainz (Saturday)

Choice Song: “No Lie” (ft. Drake)

When 2 Chainz dropped his old moniker and began trademarking his now-ubiquitous “Tu Chaynz” namedrop, he was destined to become a hip-hop star. He was a favorite guest in 2012 for many hip-hop songs such as “Mercy” or “Bandz a Make Her Dance.” His own craft as 2 Chainz is no different than the power personality present upon his feature verses. Every verse is packed with lines ready to be marketed as a hip-hop catchphrase. It would be really handy to keep some 2 Chainz quotes at your disposal.

Wu-Tang Clan (Sunday)

Choice Song: “Protect Ya Neck”

For those who need the roll call: The GZA, RZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa and the Method Man. Hip-hop fans throw up the “W” because no one else flipped thuggish swagger with such live and diverse style. Anything is fair game for the Wu-Tang Clan, whether it’s a Voltron reference, dialogue from kung fu flicks or the pure existence of ODB. Although the guarantee of all eight members of the Wu-Tang Clan (ODB, rest in peace) being on stage is unclear, it should be a hip-hop spectacle to be able to shout Wu-Tang ain’t nothing to… Well, you know the rest.

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