There was a time when regionalism was the rule in rap. New York served up that original boom-bap. The West Coast fell through with G-funk. The South came with crunk and country rap tunes. And the Midwest got all tongue-twisted. Beyond the generalizations, those geographic ties grounded hip-hop in a way that allowed subgenres and subcultures to bud and sprout like no other form of music. In an information age where local bandwidth is the only obstacle to keep an artist from going global, the polemics of place in contemporary rap shouldn't be so pervasive. But for all of its ascendant qualities, rap is still the most site-specific genre on the musical map.
From the beginning, A3C celebrated rap regionalism. But this year may be the first in which multiple showcases are being booked and branded with that in mind. Thursday night's Straight Outta Texas stage (10:30 p.m., Masquerade) features, among others, Killa Kyleon and Lil Keke — multigenerational representatives from the land of Screw music and syrup-sippin'. Slum Village headlines Saturday afternoon's Made in Detroit stage (4 p.m., Masquerade). Darkest Before Dawn: A Bay Area Showcase (10:30 p.m., Friday, Star Bar) features post-hyphy player Roach Gigz, while the Indie Life: DMV stage (10 p.m., Friday, Masquerade) will range from "#SOFUCKINFINE" stripper-turned-rhyme-spitter Rabbit to former Bad Boy buzz artist Los. There's even a Canadian Blast stage (6 p.m., Friday, Masquerade) for our neighbors to the north, and an international showcase, Planet Hip-Hop (7 p.m., Friday, Masquerade), highlighting acts from Mexico City (Boca Floja) to Singapore (Kevin Lester). And the original tongue-Twista holds it down for his city, along with GLC, Mush Millions, and more, at Taste of Chicago (7:30 p.m., Saturday, Masquerade).
See the full listing of A3C stages and showcases at www.a3cfestival.com.
From headliners like Big Boi to West Coasters like Ab-Soul to East Coasters like Freeway to ATL's own Danny!, this fest covers every corner of the hip-hop nation