Let’s be honest; the Lollapalooza lineup is overwhelming. If you’re anything like me, you picked Uzi, Yachty, & the Migos out of the typographical blur and knew you were going to be there one way or another. If you still haven’t started squinting at the four day weekend’s schedule, though, you might be relieved to see that I’ve put together a neat guide to which hip-hop acts you should be sure not to miss this summer.
The list below is in CHRONOLOGICAL order, not order of importance, from the first ATL trap demi-gods to hit the stage to the Sunday headliners. All apologies and an honorary mention to Wiz Khalifa.
Few have been able to ride the meme-rap zeitgeist with the agility of the Migos, whose Culture made club dancefloors and the subwoofers of lowriders shake all spring. Dudes have put in dues, though, with years of loyalty and underrated mixtapes under their belts and a live show so turnt even just videos of their performances have gone viral.
Lil Uzi Vert
Don’t stand anywhere near the stage structure or stacks of speakers if you don’t want four foot eleven of (currently) green hair and iced out Ben Baller chains launched at your cranium at some point during the set. You’ve been warned.
I’ve yet to see something unique from the Portland-raised rapper with the recent Freshman Class nod from XXL; his infectious hit single “Caroline” was a pastiche of Andre 3000 pauses and bits, and other cuts make me think “this kinda sounds like _____” more often than not. This may be lazy listening on my part, but it actually makes me more interested to see him live; I want to see if I can spot the spark that sets him apart.
The Japan-obsessed Atlanta MC famous for “Uber Everywhere” and “Gucci Polo” will be presiding over the BMI stage in BAPE. Roll through and keep your fingers crossed fellow Lolla 2017 artist Big Sean shows up to hop on their collab, a remix of the excellent track “Skateboard P.”
ISSA was an accomplished entry into the ever shrinking genre of grown ass man rap that’s neither by and for dads (Jay-Z’s 4:44) or aimed squarely at teens with the same marketing subtlety of Hot Pockets (Lil Yachty’s Teenage Emotions). I’m also heavily fucking with 21’s persona away from the stu, where he’s been singing SZA songs into his frontfacing camera in bed with gold fronts in and no shirt, defending the autonomy of women against Rob Kardashian style controlling machismo, and caking up to Amber rose over dinner plates with his grandma.
I cannot fucking WAIT to see him perform the En-Vogue-sampling, Metro-Boomin-produced “Thug Life.” That is all.
Chance the Rapper
How many puppets and guests do you think bro can fit into an hour and a half?
One of the most insightful and forward thinking critical thinkers in the field of “what the kids (and brands) are listening to,” Melanie McClain, tipped me off to this Oakland based rapper who collages soul, jazz, funk, indie rock and Sun Ra style psychedelia into the structure of his songs, which celebrate the sensual rhythm of a bicycle or share the experience of a child growing up surrounded by a dangerous neighborhood.
Recommended if you like Anderson .Paak, BJ the Chicago Kid, or the Bandcamp instrumental hip hop beat scene.
Chicago’s own poet, singer, and rapper has blown up globally. Last time I saw her, it was during her run at the Metro after Walt passed, and I was completely a mess when she brought Saba and Joseph Chilliams out for a tribute.
I’m bracing myself for this set, which is going to be vividly emotional and beautiful even if you don’t have the same connections. The themes of family love, pain, trauma, loss, addiction, recovery and healing shared in her music are pretty much universal, and that’s the reason it’s touched so many people.
If you read the site, have been to my house and seen the giant framed poster and sailing team hockey jersey on my wall, or have hung out with me while I’m wearing my custom LIL BOAT Adidas slides, you already know I’m a stan, even though the last project with an overbloated smorgasbord of every type of trap pop and EDM lite a team of marketing executives agreed that The Teens Might Like. The Lil Boat mixtape was sublime, and that garners you more than 15 minutes of goodwill in my book.
If the universe wants to make Migos pop out for “Sacrifices,” their feature off Sean’s recent album I Decided, I would be fine with that.
This goes up against Justice, which is a tough decision for anyone who lived through bloghouse, but the Sremmlets put on a packed set that involves a lot of shirtlessness, Gucci fur, pineapples, splashed water, outfit changes and fun.
Thank you for reading the Store Brand Soda guide to Lollapalooza! If you’re reading this and planning to be at the same sets I’m at, stay hydrated, use sunscreen, avoid hitting me in the face with your Camelbak, don’t shove in front of me if you’re taller than me, and don’t sing along with racial slurs if you’re white or a non-black person of color. Thanks, boo. I appreciate it.