This past Tuesday July 10, I attended the Ottawa Bluesfest for the third time this year. Day 7 of the 2012 Bluesfest was clearly dedicated to hip-hop as A$AP Rocky, Lauryn Hill, Chali 2NA of Jurassic 5, Deltron 3030, and Snoop Dogg constituted the lineup.
The evening started with a performance by rap newcomer A$AP Rocky who opened for Snoop Dogg on the Main Stage. I was initially skeptical of the organizers’ decision to put A$AP up on the Main Stage considering he’s only been around for the past year or so thanks to his LiveLoveA$AP mixtape that circulated widely on the web. I didn’t think the Harlem rapper could attract as many people as he did. Having said this, he did perform to a sold-out crowd at Ritual last year, which was a good indication of his rising popularity. The crowd, consisting mainly of 15-22 year olds, was quite impressive and they lit up joint after joint as soon as A$AP hit the stage. Pretty Flacko, as he also calls himself, delivered track after track of heavy bass beats including the new single Goldie and classics from the LiveLoveA$AP mixtape like Purple Swag, Peso, and Roll One Up. The fresh-faced 23-year-old expressed his love for his fans and even aloud some of them to jump on stage with him to dance and wild out for the last 15 minutes of his set.
After seeing A$AP Rocky, I moved to the Claridge Stage to get a good view for none other than Ms. Lauryn Hill. True to her reputation, Ms. Hill was 40 minutes late no less. However, when she arrived on stage wearing a beautiful black & white striped dress and backed by a 9-piece band and three back-up singers, the crowd quickly forgave her for her lack of punctuality. Ms. Hill started her performance by singing revamped versions of Everything is Everything and Ex Factor from her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill after which she took the crowd on a trip down memory lane with songs from The Fugees like Ready or Not and the famous Killing Me Softly. She even brought her beautiful children out towards the end of the show in an intimate moment that let us into Lauryn Hill’s family. To make up for her late appearance, she offered the crowd an additional 30 minutes, apparently cutting into Snoop Dogg’s set.
Speaking of which, Snoop Dogg ended up starting at 10:00 pm as opposed to the initially-scheduled set time of 9:30 pm. As a result, his show was shortened by half an hour to respect city’s 11pm outdoor music curfew. Regardless, true to himself, the California rap-superstar with great stage presence delivered his biggest hits like Gin & Juice, What’s My Name, and Drop It Like Its Hot in front of an estimated crowd of 25,000 festival-goers. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, dancing and singing along to Snoop’s party songs. The spectacle itself was a bit boring however as there was no decor or visual effects to accompany Snoop Dogg on the huge Main Stage other than the DJ, a hype-man and two back-up dancers. All in all, the show was good but a bit disappointing as something seemed to be missing.
Meanwhile on the Electro Stage, rapper Chali 2Na offered a notable performance to a much smaller but nonetheless-energetic crowd. As for Deltron 3030, members Kid Koala, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, and Dan the Automator gave an outstanding show accompanied by a 15-piece orchestra no less, making for a unique sound.
Stay posted for a review of Day 12, the final day of Bluesfest, featuring K’Naan, Young Empires, The Weeknd (!!!), Felix Cartal and Metric.