Get to know new WOHM writer Jenni Moore through her list of artists to watch at Bumbershoot 2015.
It might astonish some of you that I’m a writer for WOHM even though I don’t identify as a “hip-hop head” by any means. In all honesty, I’ve only been heavily listening to hip-hop and rap music for a few years. While I’m definitely a hip-hop fan, I think soul and R&B styles are what I listen to most…and I also love pop music that has a clear influence from all of these genres. As a rule, I try not to swear off entire genres of music. I do, however, almost always require a strong and soulful vocal. I like music that makes me want to sing, music that I can shake my damn ass to, and that’s heavily influenced by Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston.
When I saw my first concert at age 11 (the Spice Girls at what used to be called the Rose Garden in 1998), I became obsessed with seeing live music. Since my #GirlPower days, I’ve gone to plenty of concerts featuring my favorite mainstream artists, such as J. Cole, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Drake, Lil Wayne, Kelly Clarkson, Ben Harper, Justin Bieber, A$AP Rocky, John Legend, and most recently, Janelle Monaé. While I have managed to attend way, way more concerts than I should be able to afford, Bumbershoot 2015 will only be the second music festival I have attended (the first one was Capitol Hill Block Party last summer). And no, I didn’t purchase these tickets just because I want to see big acts like The Weeknd and Chance the Rapper. While those headliners will certainly make for a very exciting Saturday, my decision to attend more music festivals–and Bumbershoot in particular–was brought on by a desire to discover new music and see artists that I’m not as familiar with.
You can still get tickets on Bumbershoot.com, so here’s a list of the Bumbershoot 2015 acts I’m not going to miss:
Seattle native Solomon “Raz” Simone is perhaps the region’s most poetic and independent MC. His set will be one of the first hip-hop acts of the festival, which starts Saturday afternoon. I look forward to seeing whether he performs “Same Problems” from his album “Macklemore Privilege and Chief on Keef Violence,” and how his stage presence compares to his recording energy and music videos. Also, fun fact: his most recent music video “Plottin,” which was filmed in the Portland area, includes cameos from Portland activist/rapper Glenn Waco, and WOHM photographer Renee Lopez!
I’ve obsessed over far too many songs featuring Jhene Aiko to not see her this weekend: “From Time” with Drake, “Bed Peace” with Childish Gambino, and “The Vapors” which features Vince Staples. Songs from her “Sail Away” album have contributed soothing vibes to my chaotic life at some point or another. I’m crossing my fingers for a special guest, but not holding my breath.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like there’s a drought of true R&B artists these days. That being said, it’s really not surprising that I’ve become an avid Kehlani fan over the span of a month; the Oakland singer-songwriter’s got that MJ tonality, a very listenable Motown vibe, and she laces a fierce and honest messages of empowerment in almost every song from her “You Should Be Here” mixtape. Upon its release, Billboard called it “the year’s first great R&B album”. If she doesn’t sing “Down For You” and “Unconditional” I’m going to write a letter of complaint to somebody.
I once read an article on the Internet that described The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye) as a “PBR & B” artist—a reference to PBR beer + R&B which essentially translates to alternative or hipster R&B. (I know, I’m rolling my eyes too.) The description was no doubt a characterization of his consistently dark, overtly sexual lyrics. And his new album “Beauty Behind the Madness” has a distinct sound all on its own. My personal faves include “Real Life,” and “Dark Times,” a track that features Ed Sheeran. While I do anticipate some shaky vocals from the singer, I can barely contain my excitement about dancing to the live version of “Can’t Feel My Face.”
This act will take place at one of the festival’s Words and Ideas stages. I’ve loved reading Ijeoma Oluo’s published works about race, the arts, and feminism on sites like Jezebel, New York Magazine and The Stranger. The Seattle-based writer will presumably discuss the growing popularity of jokes and satire, and what she refers to as “hipster racism.” Should be interesting!
Chance the Rapper
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Chance the Rapper will be the closing act for night one of Bumbershoot, rather than The Weeknd who seemed to be the more publicized headliner. Maybe there’s a special guest, or maybe the coordinators anticipate some rowdiness after Chance’s set? Not sure. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of skill and energy the rapper brings to the Key Arena stage, since I’ve really enjoyed some collaborations he has done in the past such as “Confident” with Justin Bieber, and “The Way” with fellow Bumbershoot headliner Kehlani.
Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals
I already know how phenomenal Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals are live, because I’ve seen them twice before. He’s a Grammy-award winning artist who has been world renowned for literally decades. It’s one of my goals in life to hear him play the live reggae version of “With My Own Two Hands”, so continue showing out just in case. However, since I’ve seen him twice already, I might need to show up slightly late so I can catch a little bit of Ellie Goulding’s set…
I can’t miss Ellie Goulding because she’s fantastic singer–point blank. I’ve loved her radio hits like “Burn,” and “Lights.” And like any female who highly anticipated the premiere of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie, I NEED “Love Me Like You Do” to flow directly into my earholes.
His lyrics aren’t always my personal cup of tea, but you can’t really discuss Seattle hip-hop (or attend this year’s Bumbershoot) without mentioning Nacho Picasso. The Seattle MC will be one of the acts shutting down the festival, so I’m pretty sure he’s prepared to put on a set that will slay.
I’ve been wanting to see “Take Me to Church” live ever since I saw the chilling performance he did at the 2014 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. That is all.
Know of any other Bumbershoot acts that I shan’t miss? Holla at me and follow my updates from the weekend on Twitter: @JenniferKayMo.