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Rap Draft with Peter Oasis (Festival Edition)

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Music festival season is upon us, and the news already making headlines is the highly-anticipated Outkast reunion. Hip-hop fans worldwide are amped to see Andre 3000 and Big Boi take the stage together again, and lucky for us, we will all have 40 chances to catch them live. But Outkast isn’t the only rap act poised to sell tickets this year. There are plenty of others touring clubs, arenas, and festivals in 2014, from veterans to up-and-comers. It’s just up to you to throw down the dough to go check them out.

To gear up for all the festivals we hope to attend in the coming months, we tapped the brain of seasoned rap concert promoter Peter Oasis, the co-founder of LiveNDirect (the company behind many of the dope live hip-hop shows that have taken place in New York City during the past fifteen plus years) for a special Festival Edition of Rap Draft. Peter’s responsible for everything from bringing Eminem to Tramps back in 1999 for his first performance in NYC to reuniting the Hit Squad (EPMD, Redman, Das EFX, K-Solo, and Keith Murray) at Best Buy Theater in 2012. He was also one of the brains behind 50 Cent’s Hot 97-sponsored This Is 50 Festival. Yup, if there’s one thing Peter Oasis knows how to do, it’s put together an exciting live rap show (note: he also manages Party Supplies and knows about mad other shit, too). So we asked him to select his dream rap festival lineup, from artists past and present to DJs to event hosts and more, including the venue where he’d want the festival to be held and who he’d want to design the poster art, for our latest edition of Rap Draft. Check out his vision below.

1. Solo Rap Artist #1 – Kanye West and Friends performing My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Peter Oasis: “When booking a [rap concert], I usually book for personal reasons. I book acts that I want to see, not so much what the fans want to see. It’s a pretty selfish way of booking, but it usually works out. And my headliner for this festival would be Kanye performing what is in my opinion the last great rap album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, with the entire supporting cast of the album, including Chris Rock doing his skit [on ‘Blame Game’], which is fucking awesome. You have so many big names in music featured on that album, including Kanye himself. That alone would be able to fill a venue upwards of 15,000 to 20,000 people, though I’d want this festival to be a bit more intimate.

“This is also obviously a take on the Rock the Bells formula of having an artist perform an entire album. And I think with Kanye as the conductor and band leader of this amazing album, this would probably be the great live performance in the history of rap performances.”

2. Solo Rap Artist #2 – Kendrick Lamar

“At first, I thought Drake would be perfect, because he has star power, and brings the female ticket buyer to the table, which is something you usually don’t get when you’re booking a rap concert. So I thought Drake would be a good idea. But after his Grammy performance, I thought Kendrick had the energy to be a great festival headliner. And I’m sure he will be headlining festivals throughout the summer, and throughout his long career.

“What’s great about Kendrick is that he’s a touring act. He’s been on tour, and he will continue to be a touring act. A lot of ‘90s rap groups that we’ve come to know and love are not touring acts. When Nas was coming up, he was a nightclub act. And he actually was banned from a lot of nightclubs because he would bring a rowdy crowd, believe it or not. And he never established himself on the touring circuit, you know, doing the first go-round at the tiny, Southpaw, 300 cap rooms, and graduating to 1,000, and so on, to a legit festival act. And I think Kendrick has that. The foundation was built for him, and that will sustain him for the rest of his life. He’ll be performing as long as he wants to, and that’s what’s very appealing about him, aside from the obvious fact that he’s a nasty rapper, has a great stage performance, and great energy.”

3. Rap Group #1 – Action Bronson & Party Supplies (on the MPC)

“Party Supplies is my client, for the record. He’s been on the road with Action Bronson for the Blue Chips 2 Tour. The first half of the tour, Justin and Sean [of Party Supplies] opened up for Action playing their rock and roll set, songs from their Tough Love album. And there was contrast, with Action the rapper, and Party Supplies the rock group, which was great. I thought it was cool, and definitely good for shock value.

“For the second half of the tour, Justin DJ’d for Action. But I always wanted to see a show where Justin goes back to playing the MPC live, which is something he doesn’t like to do, at all. He just wants to show his growth as an artist. He’s a producer who wants to do it all, and like all producers, he wants to be in the spotlight. We had already been working the MPC world, and he was getting gigs, and YouTube views. Then when he changed up the act, I had to accommodate him. We had to start from zero again, and work our way back up. We changed booking agents, and got him on a different circuit. He enjoys playing guitar, and he enjoys playing the rock and roll circuit. We play a lot of jam band and indie rock shows. And I can’t knock it. But I think the [strongest] Bronson and Supplies show would be Justin recreating the [beats from their collaborations] on stage with the MPC. That would be a great festival play.”

4. Rap Group #2 – Odd Future

“Obviously, they’re young and cool, and they’re very fun. They have great festival energy. They created their own festival [the Odd Future Carnival aka Camp Flog Gnaw], which I didn’t go to, but I heard a lot about. They created an amusement park with it. So that alone is exciting, to see them create their own carnival. I think there are certain groups that we came up on in the ‘90s that I wish took the same initiative, to create their own branded festival, which is something that we tried to do [once] with 50 [Cent]. But I think Odd Future totally just capitalized off it, which was very smart to do. I won’t be surprised if we see more artists curating, using their vision and creative sense to do it in a way where it’s fun and not cheesy, and actually pretty awesome.

“As a festival promoter, I think they’re a great act. Any time you put a rap act on a festival stage, they tend to get lost, because the stage is so big in size. But when you take a group like Odd Future, and there’s so many of them, it fills the stage and makes it interesting. Not many rap groups are able to work the stage from left to right and keep your attention. Most rappers have random hype men that no one knows about, [but all the Odd Future members are pretty known at this point]. And they have Frank Ocean, which gets the female fan.”

5. Non-Rap Artist – Blood Orange

“Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange. He played New York [earlier this week], and it was a show that sold out way in advance. He’s exciting, he’s cool, and he has a strong fan base. And he has what I call ‘Prince energy.’ That asexual, kind of weirdo thing going on, which makes for a great festival act. So Blood Orange is my non-rap act that would totally work within a rap lineup, especially one that has Frank Ocean in the mix.”

6. Deceased Rap Artist – The Notorious B.I.G. (with Puffy Daddy as hype man)

“Last week I was watching The Show, which has Biggie performing with Puffy live. I’m working on a film series with UpNorthTrips at the Nitehawk theater, which is a continuation of what I’ve already been doing there. So I was watching The Show, because we want to show it in the theater, and then have a Q & A after. And Biggie and Puffy in their prime was probably the best thing I’ve seen in my entire rap life, and I wish I was there to see it live.

“Biggie kills it, and Puffy is the greatest hype man that ever lived, in my opinion. He’s not afraid to dance, and he’s a true showman, which is something that’s missing today in rap music. A lot of these rap guys are too proud to dance around and have fun. Puffy gives what I call the ‘Nice & Smooth energy.’ Greg Nice is one of the greatest rap performers. He dances, and he’s full of energy. Puffy is just a continuation of Greg Nice and guys of that era. And I’m sure everyone would want to see a Puff Daddy and Biggie Smalls show, and not just the hologram. No holograms at this concert.”

7. Throwback Rap Group or Solo Artist #1 – Boogie Down Productions

“My next two picks are personal to me. KRS-One is my favorite rapper. I’ve worked with him a few times, and every time I was in his presence, I became a fanboy. I got really awkward around him, and didn’t know what to say. To this day, I listen to a KRS-One or Boogie Down Productions record every day, and that’s no lie. Recently, I saw a conversation [on Twitter] between [rap journalist] Elliott Wilson and Just Blaze where they were saying they want to see a straight KRS-One rap show with him going through all of his classics, and leaving behind what KRS-One has incorporated into his show, which are the hip-hop lessons and everything that is ‘Professor KRS-One.’ I think that stuff is great, but there’s a time and place for it.

“Me as a KRS-One fan wants to hear him go through his catalog. His music still sounds current, and it sounds crazy on a sound system, I can vouch for that. His beats are so raw. With D-Nice on the turntables and the mic. Even Jamalski, Mad Lion, all of that. I can see it now! And it’s still very current. One of the biggest songs of last year was ‘Shabba,’ which was a reference to a dancehall legend. And KRS’ music was filled with raw, dancehall-style beats. I think people would enjoy it. BDP and KRS-One are an influence on everything I’ve ever done, including the name of my company.

“Actually, one of the best live rap albums ever recorded is Boogie Down Productions’ Live Hardcore Worldwide. I think it was recorded over three or four concerts, one of them at SOBs in New York. If you listen to that, you will see why I’d want them to play my festival.”

9. Throwback Rap Group or Solo Artist #2 – Native Tongues

“This is what us concert promoters call the ‘big fish.’ There are two ‘big fish.’ Obviously, one is the Outkast reunion, and they’re being paid very nicely to reunite. And every other rap promoter wants a Native Tongues reunion show. And I mean every other. There’s a third show that people want to see, and that’s a Fugees reunion. But I think that wouldn’t have the same affect as a Native Tongues or Outkast reunion.

“Native Tongues are probably the greatest rap collective ever. If you look at the Native Tongues, you’ve got De La Soul, who still tour, and they make a very sweet living touring. I think they have one of the great live performances in rap. The Jungle Brothers, they’re the fucking Jungle Brothers, and I’m the biggest Jungle Brothers fan out. [A] Tribe [Called Quest], for obvious reasons. And I’d like to see the lesser known Native Tongues groups, like The Beatnuts, who I’m a fan of [and have worked with in the past before]. And imagine hearing Queen Latifah rap again. Like, come on? Who wouldn’t pay to see that? Then you’ve got the mighty Mos Def. Not Yasiin Bey, but Mos Def. And Black Sheep, and Kool DJ Red Alert. And I can’t mention the Native Tongues without saying Rest In Peace to Chris Lighty, who I worked with on the This Is 50 Festival.

“Native Tongues reunion is the ‘big fish’ that rap promoters want. There is one particular agent that’s tried to get them together to do it, but had no success. I think if the Native Tongues did reunite, it’s a big pay day for everyone involved. But a lot of times [with a reunion], and especially in this case, there’s one big star, and that’s Queen Latifah, who could probably get more money than every other group in the Native Tongues. It’s unfair, and Queen Latifah would probably have to do it as an act of love. But if that ever happened, it would be one of the greatest rap shows in the history of rap. And now that I’ve said it, there’s probably someone out there that’s going to make it happen. My influence is still shining!”

10. DJ #1 – A-Trak

“Of all the DJs, A-Trak is the number one obvious choice for me for the following reason—he’s a fucking star. I’ve had the opportunity to work with A-Trak over the past three years because Party Supplies are signed to Fool’s Gold. A-Trak isn’t a one-dimensional DJ. He’s managed to go from being a turntablist to one of the most sought after DJs in the entire world. That alone makes him a major festival attraction. His name would be on the top of the bill with Kanye and Kendrick. He’s that big of a star. He’s entertaining, he’s energetic, he’s a showman, he has great personality, he takes pictures with his fans. He’s everything you’d want as a client.”

11. DJ #2 – Keys N Krates

“They’re definitely the oddball act, and every festival needs an oddball act. Part of paying money to see a festival is you want to see an act you normally wouldn’t see, and having the opportunity to be exposed to music [you might be otherwise unfamiliar with]. Keys N Krates are exciting, and they’re not traditional DJs. There’s a drummer, there’s a turntable guy, a synth guy—they’re more of a collective. They’re from Toronto, and they’re pretty awesome.

“They’re a festival act. They tour 150 shows a year internationally, and they’re just a great festival attraction. They’re fun.”

12. House Band – The Budos Band

“The Budos Band has a great project called The Wudos Band, where they recreate Wu-Tang beats. It’s very slept-on, it came out in 2010. Booking agents had the idea to connect bands to rappers to create a bigger show to play festivals or to tour the college market. But a lot of the time, backing bands behind rappers doesn’t work out right. I think the hardest thing to do is recreate a drum sound from a drum machine. Not many drummers can do it. Questlove is the obvious exception, because he’s God, and The Roots are the greatest hip-hop band ever. But I personally wouldn’t want to see rappers with a band. I don’t think it’s a good idea. It was something that was created in an agency boardroom when trying to figure out how to squeeze more juice from the orange, so to speak.

“The Budos Band, they’re a big band. They incorporate horns, and it just makes for a great fucking show. So I would have The Budos Band play between acts, where traditionally you would have a DJ. I think that would be awesome.”

13. Host – Ashley Outrageous

“When thinking of a host, there are some hosts that work the circuit that are pretty awesome at it. There’s obviously Miss Info, who for the past couple years has hosted a lot of rap events. There’s the great Peter Rosenberg, who’s a great host. There’s D-Stroy, formerly of the Arsonists, who’s another amazing host. But when you’re promoting a festival, you have to pay attention to one thing, and that’s ticket sales. By incorporating an Internet celebrity, that helps with the ticket sales. Ashley Outrageous is a blogger and hip-hop personality. I’m booking her because no one would ever book her to host a major festival, and now that I mention it, someone’s going to book her, and that’s just how it goes.

“Ashley Outrageous is Latina, she’s very close with the TDE crew, she’s great at social media, her Instagram feed is cool. Though I’ve never actually heard her speak [Laughs], I still think she’d make a great host. It’s expected now that when you book talent on a show, they promote the show and push it through their social media outlets, whichever avenues they have. And I think Ashley would be amazing as a promoter, and also a personality on stage.”

Venue – Hinchcliffe Stadium

“I recently came across a video of an old stadium in Paterson, New Jersey, a 10,000 seat stadium called Hinchcliffe. At first, it was a baseball field where the Negro League teams played. It’s a historic landmark that fell into despair. It’s been used for high school sports, and there’s actually a guy who started a Friends of Hinchcliffe Stadium organization that’s trying to restore this amazing stadium back to its glory days. It was built in 1931, 1932, and it was the home of Negro League baseball games. The New York Black Yankees called it their home for a while, the New York Cubans, local high school teams. It was also used for boxing matches, which is pretty awesome.

“It’s a space that no one uses, and it is a little out of the way, but that’s what makes for a great festival location. When creating a festival, you want to put it somewhere people have never been, because you want to make it a destination. The downfall of a lot of events and festivals is that they’re hosted in venues that house other events, and it takes away from it being special.”

Festival Name: Too Complex 

Poster Artist: Brent Rollins

“I would want to partner with Complex Magazine and call it Too Complex. Again, De La Soul man! And Complex is the largest, most exciting media network out, [which of course NahRight is a part of]. I’m a huge fan of Complex. And I’d partner with Complex because I’d want Brent Rollins [who designed the poster above] to assist me in designing the poster for this festival. Brent is one of my favorite designers. It would be an honor for me to buddy up and work with him.

“I’m currently working on a book that has something to do with [rap concert] poster art with a couple of nice guys [that many of you know of]. And what I’m realizing is that while we don’t have posters now that we distribute [as much physically], poster art is still a hot commodity. Action Bronson had these awesome Blue Chips 2 posters that were handed out to VIPs on the tour, and it’s definitely a great takeaway.”

*Listen to Peter Oasis‘ LiveNDirect radio show the third Wednesday of every month from 9-10:30 pm on WNYU, in association with Dharmic X’s show This Culture Never Dies.

Previously: Rap Draft with UpNorthTrips (’90s Edition) | Rap Draft with Dallas Penn | Rap Draft with Dante Ross