City Pages: “How Rhymesayers set up the Soundset Festival”
City Pages recently stopped by the Rhymesayers offices in Minneapolis and interviewed the label about Soundset Festival, now celebrating its fifth year. Check out an excerpt below to learn about the history of the festival and head to CityPages.com
“More than a decade before Soundset officially launched as the largest hip-hop festival Minnesota has ever seen, the moniker was already making the rounds in smaller, tighter circles around the Twin Cities. Rhymesayers co-founders Brent “Siddiq” Sayers and Atmosphere mouthpiece Sean “Slug” Daley have vivid recollections of the initial Soundset in the summer of 1997, which came two years after they solidified the label with Atmosphere producer Anthony “Ant” Davis, and fellow rapper Musab “Sab the Artist” S’ad.
The event was at a warehouse space on Lake Street just east of Hiawatha Avenue. In those days, the burgeoning local underground hip-hop scene — which has often been labeled “backpacker” or “conscious rap” by the music press — had much overlap with the Twin Cities’ rave crowd, which was blowing up at the time.
“We were like, ‘Shit, why don’t we have a hip-hop rave?’” label CEO Siddiq recalls. “We were already doing sets at random raves, so we decided to do an all hip-hop one. Things started at like 7 or 8 o’clock and ended at like 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning.”
It was packed, and the blueprint for what current Soundset festivals embody was already in place. A couple dozen local hip-hop acts performed, and a dozen DJs filled in the gaps. There were some freestyle cyphers, but for the most part, these were cohesive sets.
“It might as well have been a rave in terms of when, where, and what time,” Slug says, recalling an early flyer he created for the event by scrawling across a picture of a boombox with “some grafitti-looking shit that said ‘Soundset.’”
Buy your tickets today for Soundset at Fifth Element in uptown Minneapolis or online: Buy Now. General admission tickets are $46 ($3 facility fee and parking are included in ticket price).