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50,000 people packed into Suncorp Stadium on Thursday, 20th February for the Rapture Festival. Headlined by Eminem, the festival became not only a celebration of hip-hop music, but due to the rapper’s massive medley of a setlist, a celebration of the career of arguably the greatest rapper alive.
Hip-hop fans will debate until they’re blue in the face about who stands as the greatest emcee, but Eminem will always be in the conversation due to his steady stream of hits over his turbulent but lengthy career.
However Em wasn’t the only drawcard at Rapture. Aussie mega-producer M-Phazes kicked off the festivities, playing a bevy of his biggest production efforts alongside some classic hits as the crowd flowed through the entry gates.
360 followed with a set filled with the songs which have assured his continued ascendence as one of the biggest names in Australian hip-hop. His energy and enthusiasm was key in building the vibe to electric levels prior to the Americans taking the stage. Though some would’ve preferred he steer clear of his more dubstep-y beats, he proved he belonged on a stage that would soon host a legend.
The first of the Americans to perform was rotund wordsmith Action Bronson, whose fan base probably grew by more than a few thousand after an exuberant performance, even if his song selection lacked many of those his existing Australian fan base wanted to hear.
Following Bronson was Jay-Z protege J Cole. The Roc Nation artist suffered through sound problems for most of his set, but still emerged unscathed due to a commanding stage presence, charisma, and a top-notch backing band. The sound problems seemed to create an undertone of dread amongst the crowd, concerned the two headliners may suffer a similar fate.
But through some magic cast by the sound staff, rap’s man-of-the-moment, Kendrick Lamar, stormed the stage, backed by a sizeable band, and sounding sublime. The diminutive Compton emcee whipped the crowd, now nearing capacity, into a frenzy as he ran through songs from his acclaimed album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.
Lamar seemed thankful as the thousands who knew his album well rapped along. Down on the stadium floor Lamar had the crowd in a sort of trance, while those in the stands struggled to hear each lyric in the stadium environment.
Lamar had incorporated his talented band into his set far more effectively than J Cole, but throughout the performance, one couldn’t help but feel that Lamar was not yet equipped to handle the demands of a stadium-sized venue and would better shine on a smaller stage.
After an extended wait, Eminem hit the stage accompanied by D12 bandmate Mr Porter. What followed was over an hour of excellence in the form of a gigantic medley of classics, with the odd track performed in its entirety, such as when Em was joined by surprise guest Royce da 5’9? for two tracks off their collaborative effort, Bad Meets Evil.
But the set mostly remained a medley. An astonishing medley, which was not only effective but completely understandable, even if you may have missed your favourite verse. With so many albums and so many hit songs, it made sense for Em to pack as much of his career into his setlist as possible. After all, there were 50,000 sweaty, excited, anxious fans waiting to witness the “rap god” do his thing.