Raleigh, N.C. — After a year of waiting, the Triangle can finally come together once more in celebration of something that brings us together. I speak not of football’s return, but of the Hopscotch Music Festival. In its seventh year, Hopscotch has raised the bar, bringing headliners like Beach House, Erykah Badu and Young Thug to Raleigh.
The lineup goes deeper than that, though. To prepare you for your three-day musical bender, here are some artists to know before showing up at City Plaza.
Vince Staples is the guy you think you look like when you’re spitting bars in the shower. The 23-year-old artist is in the midst of a 14-month sprint to stardom. Last summer, he released his first studio album, Summertime ’06, and followed it with this year’s Prima Donna. On the first record, Staples showed his frustration with the world, expressing his pain through conversational lyrics. On the second, he builds on those feelings and drags us even further down into that despair. That isn’t to say everything Staples does is dark, though. The rapper has a comedic side and frequently offers reviews of just about everything.
Songs to know: Norf Norf, Lift Me Up, Blue Suede
Sometimes, all you need is a little Coffee.
It’s not often artists get to play the role of hometown heroes, but that’s exactly what Sylvan Esso is doing as they return to the Triangle next weekend. Both members of the indie pop outfit hail from good ol’ Durham, North Carolina, and, unlike Staples, are making a repeat appearance at Hopscotch. Their first visit was in 2013, but this will be their first time headlining the festival. Their first album, the self-titled Sylvan Esso, received high praise when it was released in 2014. With producer Nick Sanborn’s synth beats and singer Amelia Meath’s folk-ish tone, Sylvan Esso bring a sound that’s entirely original and not easily duplicated.
Songs to know: Coffee, Play It Right, Dreamy Bruises
Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
With apologies to the hundreds of other artists who’ve been featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Series, no group put on a better set than Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals. Few bands can replicate their studio sound live better than Anderson .Paak does.
With soulful and often upbeat sounds, Anderson .Paak will leave you wanting more. Songs like Celebrate, Silicon Valley and Come Down all show up on their 2016 album, Malibu. So highly praised was the album that, in its review, Pitchfork compared .Paak’s flow and lyricism to that of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. While the tone between the two albums may differ, the comparison is spot on. The vibe .Paak offers is different than almost any artist touring today, and having seen him twice already, I can safely say you won’t want to miss his set.
Songs to know: Celebrate, Silicon Valley, Come Down