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Joey Bada$$ in a totally badass retro Phoenix Coyotes jersey.
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Day three of Festival d'été was the 11-day music celebration's biggest night for rap fans. Though there's still hip-hop peppered throughout the rest of the fest, all of the big guns hit the main stage on Saturday night.
Here, the best and worst from the Plaines d'Abraham.
BEST: Joey Bada$$ dials it up
Joey Bada$$ is better every time I see him. Saturday night in Quebec City was no different, as he was the most consistently high-energy performer on the entire bill. Joined onstage by Pro Era crewmate Kirk Knight, he bounded and pranced around the stage through a short set of cuts from his debut mixtape, 1999, as well as his verse from 1 Train (a highlight) and a couple of covers (which proved to be a trend for all the emcees as the night progressed). His enthusiasm and commitment to making every song as good or better than on record (or mp3 file, as it were) were particularly welcome after the relatively low-energy stylings of J. Cole's latest Dreamville signee, Bas, who has a lot of potential (and seems to be a very nice dude), but was comparatively nowhere near as charismatic.
BEST: A$AP Rocky goes solo
The last time I saw A$AP Rocky perform was with the rest of the A$AP mob at the Molson Amphitheatre last summer. It was a snooze. Rocky isn't the world's most talented emcee, but he is a STAR, and you want to see a star shine, amiright? Turns out, he can hold down the stage with the best of them. He must have taken notes from last year's tourmate, Wiz Khalifa, who is the Mick Jagger of rappers when it comes to putting on a show. Rocky was energetic and genuine, making love to the mic stand here, jumping down from one level of the stage to another there. He also made a seemingly impromptu speech about how everyone was created equal. "We're all one people," he said. "I love y'all, we are all one people." Sweetest was when he stopped a water guy to get a bottle of agua, and then started tossing them out to the audience for free.
WORST: Rocky ignores his own best songs
What the hell, dude? For all the stage presence and magnitude, we didn't really get much of a Rocky hit parade. Yes, he played Peso and Fuckin' Problems. But I guess he's bored with his debut album Long.Live.A$AP cause he didn't delve into some of its finer cuts. He was happy to sing through a slow (and boring) rendition of Kissin' Pink from Live.Long.A$AP, so why not throw in a Fashion Killa or a Phoenix or a Suddnely? And while his collabo with Skrillex, Wild For The Night, was the perfect pump-up track and certainly had the desired effect, other tunes, like Palace, that seem MADE for the stage, didn't appear. Also: why so many A$AP Ferg tracks?
BEST AND WORST: Party Overload
There was a second, side show happening at the Bell Stage if you were paying close attention. Every so often, either voluntarily or not, an ashen-faced young partier was plucked out from the swell against the stage, and escorted by security to the first aid area. On the downside, it sucks that excessive substance abuse was probably involved. And it even more sucked when you saw, a couple minutes later, their coherent friend come running out behind them, after what I can only imagine were a few minutes of real soul-searching. On the plus side, the security and first-aid people handled it all very respectfully. These fans have been out in the sun for hours, and yeah, they probably contributed to their own downfall. But the claustrophobia and dehydration probably didn't help, either. And for their troubles, they actually got to take a seat with a pretty good view of the stage in a judgment-free zone. And a water and granola bar, to boot.
BEST AND WORST: Snoop Dogg
Listen, Snoop. We get that you've passed the point of making new hip-hop albums and touring them properly. We get that the glory tracks of Doggystyle and Tha Doggfather will carry you from one big festival to the next for the rest of your days. We're proud of you that you can still get away with so many ridiculous plays on your own name. We get that you're 43 years old and probably have the lungs of a septuagenarian. But would it kill you to put just a touch of effort into your onstage performance? As if he wasn't chill enough already, Snoop intro'd and exited to the soothing sounds of reggae (his own, and then Bob Marley's). What came in between was a shades-on, barely moving delivery of some of his biggest hits, as well as some current radio stuff - that Jason Derulo Wiggle song, for example. That being said, there's nothing that transports you back to the mid 90s quite like g-funky, Dr. Dre-produced Snoop back catologue. And you couldn't help but sing along to his performance of Young, Wild & Free - which seemed to embody the spirit of the night.