On Wednesday (Oct. 3), Atlanta’s annual A3C Conference kicked off in the city’s center, steps away from Georgia State University. Each year, droves of aspiring MCs and their management teams storm the streets, networking and shaking hands — always with their CD as the lead. Some come to the city with their most innovative ideas and others simply come for inspiration.
In 2018, the halls of the Loudermilk building were flooded with artists hoping to hear a singular, potentially life-changing jewel from people like Tuma Basa (Director of Urban Music, YouTube), Cortez Bryant (Manager, Young Money) and so many others. Even the city’s mayor Keisha Bottoms had a speaking engagement.
Those who were regular attendees of the conference from year to year somberly acknowledged that this would be the first A3C in some time where the voice of the late Reggie Osse of the Combat Jack Show wouldn’t be heard booming through the main room at Loudermilk as he conducted interviews with the best and brightest in the industry. Still, as he would say: “It never, ever stops.”
It was a few years ago that the festival’s organizers decided to separate the shows from the conversations to make the conference and the festival two separate entities under the same umbrella. It was smartest thing they could’ve done. With the informational sessions being held throughout the week, the weekend was wide open for hours of live hip-hop.
On Saturday (Oct. 6), conference attendees and neighborhood folks all streamed into the Georgia Freight Depot to watch Wu-Tang Clan reconverge and perform their debut LP, Enter the 36 Chambers, from start to finish. The festival grounds hosted a mixed crowd with various musical tastes, as always. Some came out to see newcomers like Deante Hitchcock and Dreamville’s J.I.D. live and in effect. Others hit the depot specifically for wordplay from Prhyme, Talib Kweli and Westside Gunn and Conway. It was clear who came to see the Wu.
In the sea of people, by the glow of the stage lighting, one could spot the massive spattering of bright yellow Wu-Tang logos on black tees, backpacks, hats and even socks. The Clan allowed for individual members to shine on their own onstage: Method Man, dressed in all black, confidently dove into his “Rockwilder” verse and “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man” with ease. At one point in the evening, he addressed the crowd directly. “Here’s my suggestion,” he said. “If yo’ ass ain’t ready to party and you in the front, take yo’ ass to the back and let the people who ready to party get up front.” Festival goers screamed their approval.
From “Triumph” to “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ Ta F Wit,” the energy remained the same. W’s were in the air when the crowd was too excited to continue recording on their phones. “The whole f–king Wu-Tang is up there!” one latecomer raved to their companion, who seemed equally floored. “They be coming together like Voltron.” One woman, who looked to be in her early to mid-50s, jumped around to the timing of “C.R.E.A.M.” and recited every bar effortlessly while doing so.
Even Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s spirit could be felt in the place on Saturday night. His son, Young Dirty Bastard, performed “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” in his honor with his dad’s crew filing in the background. He finished the verse and edged out to the center of the stage. “Don’t jump in that crowd, n—-a…,” Method quipped, like a real uncle would.
Tonight (Oct. 7), A3C continues their trend of bringing crews together for the greater good with Dipset hitting the stage just before Lil Wayne, wrapping up the A3C festivities for 2018.