Ready, set, Soundset!

Headlined by Atmosphere and duo Method Man & Redman, the area’s annual hip-hop extravaganza, Soundset, looks to be bigger, badder and uncut this year.

by Mark Brenden

WHAT: Soundset 2010 WHO: Atmosphere , Brother Ali , many more WHEN: May 30, Gates open at 11 a.m. WHERE: Canterbury Park, 1100 Canterbury Road, Shakopee In the humbler corners of our great Midwest, folksâÄô image of a hip-hop festival is likely one of 50,000 yahoos donning baggy pants that holster 100,000 9- mms and 200,000 baggies of crack cocaine. Worry not, though, mothers of Shakopee, thereâÄôs no need to rush the family to GrandmaâÄôs this weekend when the areaâÄôs perennial one-day hip-hop showcase, Soundset, invades your suburban Shangri-La. On the contrary, Minneapolis hip-hop is decent and sophisticated. Its major players include a pacifist QurâÄôan- thumper, an introspective storyteller who advocates âÄúpainting shit goldâÄù and a collective of educated street poets. But it wonâÄôt be just local sensations at Soundset 2010, though Minneapolis rhyme-heads will get their P.O.S., Dessa, Toki Wright and Brother Ali fixes. The blue hologram from the GorillazâÄô âÄúClint EastwoodâÄù video, Del tha Funkee Homosapian , who accompanied so many basement bong rips, will also be present. So will the perennial âÄúHow HighâÄù slacker BFFs Method Man and Redman , L.A. underground vets People Under the Stairs, Roc-a-Fella-turned-Rhymesayer Freeway and so many others that the gates must open at 11 a.m. to fit everybody in. Hip-hop before noon? ThatâÄôs right, bring Corn Flakes to go, homeboy. In our convenient fascination with lists, A&E has outlined the best local acts to catch at the proverbial day of rhyme. Brother Ali The inveterate golden boy of the cityâÄôs rap game has the perfect ingredients for a festival setting. His flow, chill as a La-Z-Boy at times and frenetic as a militia at others, should get the crowd riled to the point of (respectful) rioting. 2009 was a monumental year for the rhymer as his sixth and best effort for Rhymesayers, âÄúUs ,âÄù took him to the borderline between star and superstar. We can assume that 2010 will either push him one toke over that line or send him retreating back âÄî and Soundset will be a natural starting pad for his new journey. BK One A veteran of the Minneapolis scene and a pioneer of The Beatbox, MinneapolisâÄô first underground hip-hop show, BK One draws his tropical sound from a deep pool of influences that range from Charles Mingus to Rakim to Johnny Cash . He calls Brother Ali his âÄúpartner in crime,âÄù but the only crime they appear to be involved with is breaking and entering into the attics of the gods of hip-hop and lifting their jewels. BKâÄôs lyrical whoppers are best served in the sunshine, so the summer festival should be an opportune chance to check his tropical stylings. Eyedea & Abilities Bitter, tortured and dangerously clever, emcee Eyedea, behind the straight-from-the-gutter beats of Abilities, sounds like the raggedy orphan child of Atmosphere. With lines like âÄúEmpathy is the poor manâÄôs cocaine / And love is just a chemical by any other nameâÄù (âÄúBurn FetishâÄù) and, âÄúThere no judge or jury / When youâÄôre looking adrenaline in the faceâÄù (âÄúThis StoryâÄù) EyedeaâÄôs poetry is as explosive as it is virulent. Soundset should provide him with a sufficient pulpit to project his venomous, no-B.S. homilies. MURS âÄúMursâÄù is French for âÄúwalls,âÄù but the translation is not exact to the hip-hop language, in which it is an acronym for âÄúMaking Underground Raw [Expletive].âÄù Volatile and fiery, this Los Angeles emcee is not confined by anything. His nobodyâÄôs-fool attitude reflects brazenly against his mean-street beats, making him one of the most powerful performers on the Soundset lineup. The Cali boy is no stranger to the Twin Cities hip-hop scene, having made three collaborative LPs with Slug, each of which acts as dedication to a seemingly random Hollywood madame (Christina Ricci, Lisa Bonet and Rosie Perez.) Fashawn A Fresno, Calif., migrant to the Soundset stage, Fashawn is just barely legal to drink a forty (21 years old), but his mature flow and silver-tongued intellect make him sound like he could be RakimâÄôs father. The young emcee labors under the impression that the golden age of hip-hop is still on our horizons âÄî and if his instant-classic 2009 LP is any indication, perhaps heâÄôs right. We met Fashawn via his electrifying debut âÄúBoy Meets World.âÄù I know what youâÄôre thinking: âÄòMore Topanga and co.?âÄô âÄî but the autobiographical rhymefest had about as much to do with Cory Matthews as âÄú2Pacalypse NowâÄù had to do with Martin Sheen . Soundset will be a way for the talented boy to properly meet the Midwest.