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Governors Ball day 3: It’s bigger than hip hop


by Samuel Hernandez | photos by Megan Mack

The Dead Prez group established the slogan for hip hop: “One thing about music is when it’s real they be scared.” It was important of course for The Governors Ball to nod to how historic New York City has been to the creation of hip hop, even if the lineup was overwhelmingly from out of state.

In addition to social commentary, there’s something unique about starting out young. Day 1 saw the glorious return of Outkast in what has been their reunion tour of festivals this summer, Day 2 was the hailing of Childish Gambino the alt rapper turned James Franco of rap, and Day 3 was left to the young guns of Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator to explore what the scene means.

Tyler, the Creator is an outspoken kid. In 2013, the Museum of Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, had an exhibit on the history of the music video, and tucked away a section for controversial videos. The youngest entrant and the most up to date was Tyler’s video for “Yonkers.” A year earlier, he made homophobic comments about Tegan and Sara. There’s volatility and passion, but there’s also a lot channeled into creativity.

The two collaborated on their Governors Ball performance adding a needed touch of youthful insanity that was missing the previous two days. The audience was encouraged to participate, and Tyler and Earl were in full connection mode with the audience. Connecting with the audience and checking exactly where they were, Tyler called out the VIP attendees who got to fill in the stage early, performing his standout “Yonkers” for the “working class.”

Earl Sweatshirt was in similar form. Each of his songs was polished rapping over classic beats. It’s dismissive when critics argue against the stereotype that hip hop creates. Hip hop does not promote itself as the only path for success for black Americans. Hip hop isn’t perfect and battles with misogyny but it’s still the most American genre, and often finds its focus on social change.

If you arrived early enough to cop a view, Cayucas also broke away from the rest of the day’s performances. Whether name checking themselves in a song, or just thrilling the audience with light and danceable pop music, Cayucas are brilliant craftsmen of the summer jam. They round out the energy emanating from the hip hop thread.

In all three days there was something to look for and enough to dig into. If you’re not listening to more bands after Governors Ball, you aren’t listening.

See more photos from Governors Ball here.

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