Capitol Hill Block Party
July 26-28, 2013
By Jeff Wilson
This year’s Capitol Hill Block Party offers up a diverse pool of local and national acts. Here are my picks for the best electronic and hip-hop shows to see on Saturday and Sunday.
Run The Jewels (Saturday, Main Stage, 6 p.m.)
Consisting of Killer Mike and El-P, Run The Jewels released one of the hottest mix tapes of the year. Both of these MCs have made waves in recent years, El with his genre-bending 2012 release Cancer 4 Cure and Killer Mike with his solo debut R.A.P. Music, both hip-hop classics. So them coming together creates a sort of lesser known super group like Kanye and Jay-Z’s Watch The Throne, though Run The Jewels is darker and more interesting. Killer Mike raps about taking lives and robbing people; El-P creates harsh, 808-ladden beats for both of them to rap over. This isn’t the first time these two have worked together (El-P exclusively produced R.A.P Music) and it shows. I’ve heard they both put on incredible live performances as well, so I’m excited to see them share the stage on Saturday.
Check out the title cut from Run The Jewels.
A-Trak (Saturday, Main Stage, 7:30 p.m.)
Montreal’s A-Trak is quite possibly one of the most technically-skilled turntablists to date. While most DJs/Producers stand at the decks and push buttons and twist knobs, A-Trak has real DJ skills, something rare in this day of electronic music. The 31 year-old has won five DJ World Championships and is the first person to win all three major DJ competition titles. His style, a mixture of hip-hop and electronic, is well suited for almost any music fan with a sense of rhythym, but don’t go just to hear his music, go to see him work his magic on the decks.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCjJVZct7ts]
Kid Smpl (Saturday, Vera Stage, 4 p.m.)
This Seattle DJ has been making a name for himself locally, though not with the standard formula of fist-pumping and bro tanks. Kid Simpl’s deep, ambient bass (similar to Burial) and RnB-ish melodies (The Weeknd comes to mind) draw you in and keep you swaying. It’s a style that most fans haven’t heard before, although I would venture to guess that one or two Capitol Hill hipsters will say he is already too mainstream to be taken seriously. Either way, if you want a change of pace from drops and kick drums, I highly recommend you see Kid Smpl on Saturday. For an advance taste, check out Kid’s EP Armour.
ILLFIGHTYOU (Sunday, Barboza Stage, 4:45 p.m.)
ILLBEHONEST, I don’t know much about this rap trio from Seattle. In fact, I just recently started listening to ILLFIGHTYOU but I was immediately drawn in by their haunting beats and the distinct styles of their three young MCs. I expect they will bring their best for their hometown crowd during their set on Sunday, which is only their fourth live performance ever. You can stream their debut on Soundcloud.