Bonnaroo for the Hip-Hop Fan
Sets You’ll Probably Catch: You’ll have to be passed out to miss headliner Kanye West, whose lunar stage set will look even icier under the night stars. Chance the Rapper, the yelpy Chicago rascal who is Kanye’s sonic – if not spiritual – son, should also put on one of the most densely packed rap sets of the weekend along with his brass band the Social Experiment. Of course, Kanye’s sound has shifted from stewed soul to acidic dance beats, pushing him somewhere closer to the broken-toothed, tongue-wagging Danny Brown, who has been a festival highlight for multiple summers running. For anthems, there’s Wiz Khalifa – whose “We Dem Boyz” might be the hottest rap song of the summer – and Pusha T, doing a line of G.O.O.D. Music hits and Clipse classics.
You Might Also Like: Don't miss comedian Hannibal Buress, a rap fan who often works hip-hop observations into his sets – his latest album, Live From Chicago, features a riff on Riff Raff. Bonnaroo's R&B line-up is solid too: Frank Ocean figures to preview some of his much-anticipated new album in one of his only scheduled American dates of the year, and Janelle Monae, in a tux regardless of the heat, will show the droopy indie rockers hunched over acoustic guitars how to put on a show. There’s also Washed Out, whose stoner electronica predicted Drakewave bedroom crooners; Sam Smith, the 2006 Amy Winehouse of 2014, and Chromeo, who will be performing much of their surprisingly good new album White Women. Saturday night will see a screening of Ping Pong Summer, a hot new period piece about teenage suburban white hip-hop fanatic in the cassette-heavy 1985. But true scholars of hip-hop cinema will be waking up early to catch The Warriors at 5:30 a.m. Can you dig it?
Best-Kept Secret: You know of Skrillex’s Superjam, but even that will have a secret weapon: bassist Thundercat. Born Stephen Bruner, Thundercat is an accomplished session musician, having played alongside Erykah Badu and Miguel. But even more instructive for this exercise is the extensive time he’s spent with tripped-out producer Flying Lotus. Skrillex plus Damian Marley plus Warpaint plus Robby Krieger from the Doors might be a total mess, but the low end will be on lock.