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Hip-Hop Beat: Kanye conquers

Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco and others
Grant Park
Chicago, IL
Aug. 1 - 3, 2008
Kanye West
Kanye West
Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco
Kanye West
Kanye West

Story By Ben "Benny G" Garvey
Photos of Kanye West by Billy Sparks
Photo of Lupe Fiasco by Phil Bonyata

Lollapalooza took Chicago by storm with a fury of styles that included some great representation from hip-hop culture. The festival leaned heavily on the up and coming Chicago hip-hop scene's incestuous nature, featuring performances from many artists that operate under Kanye West's sphere of influence. Kanye himself gave the most notable performance, closing the festival down on Sunday night with an exciting exposition of his latest masterpiece Graduation.

His high octane set included a tribute to his lost mother that he performed through a vocoder, delivering an eerie and enjoyable nod to the next life. Those roots remained intact performing while his early hits "Jesus Walks" and "Through the Wire," but fans hoping he was going to pull out an extra stop just for the festival will have to wait until next tour (since his set list closely paralleled a recent arena outing). However, the star failed to depart from his cocky attitude, comparing himself to the late James Brown and laying down his goals to be "the best that ever lived." To his credit, the light show was an impressive demonstration of why Mr. West is more than just a rapper and producer, but a mogul of pop culture entertainment and showmanship.

Kanye's protege, rapper Lupe Fiasco, delivered a stunning set incorporating a gospel choir, live band and DJ. His level of showmanship was a notable step-up from his previous two appearances at Lollapalooza as a featured artist during Kanye's set. The performance was also high energy, but for those who weren't already in tune with the songs, it was difficult to decipher the lyrics. All in all, his set resembled more of a soul and R&B show ala Stevie Wonder than your typical hip-hop experience.

Kid Sister delivered a mentionable set representing the feminine perspective in hip-hop. She is currently dating A-Trak, the DJ for Kanye's latest tour. She performed over hot beats but lyrically failed to live up to some of her lyrical predecessors )such as NewSense or Queen Latifah) with her single "Pro Nails" containing such lame lines as "Bubble letters on my butt say "FRESH."

Kid Sister's younger brother, J2K, also got the nod from Lollapalooza as one half of the DJ team Flosstradamus. They dropped a DJ set that was reminiscent of the parties that are thrown in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago with a set that was laced with fresh remixes and hot beats. They also incorporated a house music dance vibe into the set that kept the crowd dancing the entire time.

Chromeo, though not quite the hip-hop genre, also bears mentioning because of their affiliation with Kanye's DJ, A-Trak. (Lead-singer, David Macklovitch is A-Trak's older brother). This duo played a set of electro funk integrating live keyboards, guitars and vocals into a groove style of music that was reminiscent of the dance style of hip-hop that was created by old school groups like Africa Bambaataa and 2 Live Crew.

One DJ outside of the Kanye sphere of influence that played a notable mash-up set was Girl Talk, whom integrated samples from Notorious B.I.G. to Lil Wayne and 80s rock to 70s disco all at the same time. The spinner ended his set with a round of crowd surfing in an inflatable life raft that added a theatrical touch to the all around fun-focused festivities.

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