So just who are the acts coming to the Flyover Festival at the Providence Medical Center Amphitheater on July 22? Here’s a roundup of the national headliners and some of the local artists joining them.
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Gucci Mane is the greatest redemption story in rap right now. After a two-year prison sentence, the formerly pot-bellied rap legend turned heads when he emerged last year with a svelte physique and new outlook on life. He was previously known as much for his crippling drug addictions and staggering arrest history as for his musical prowess (70 mixtapes, 10 studio albums and over 30 singles). Since his release, Gucci has become engaged, written an autobiography, experienced fame he’d never seen before and garnered his first Billboard No. 1 song with “Black Beatles,” his collaboration with fellow Flyover Festival headliners Rae Sremmurd.
Hometown: Tupelo, Miss.
The rowdiest duo in hip-hop. Brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi make up Rae Sremmurd (pronounced ray-shrem-merd), a hip-hop duo who burst onto the national scene in 2014 with the braggadocious party anthem “No Flex Zone.” The hit itself was a surprise, an inescapable platinum-certified hit from a previously unknown pair of brothers from Mississippi, but not quite as surprising as what happened next: They only got better.
Three years later Rae Sremmurd has forged a stellar career chock full of hits and highlights. The duo’s debut album, “SremmLife,” was certified platinum. In 2016 came “SremmLife2,” which included their first No. 1, “Black Beatles,” one of the biggest songs of last year.
Even without an official album, Lil Uzi Vert has solidified himself as one of the most popular new rap acts in the country. Known for his eccentric style of dress, purple and green locks and his penchant for blending rap and hard rock, Lil Uzi has built a tremendous grassroots fan base. He created a string of critically acclaimed mixtapes (2015’s Luv Is Rage and 2016’s Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World and The Perfect Luv Tape). This year he achieved his first No. 1 single for “Bad and Boujee” (a collaboration with rap group Migos) and his first top 10 single as a solo artist for “XO Tour Llif3.”
When Flyover announced its lineup earlier this year, Playboi Carti was a clear second-tier headliner — a SoundCloud artist with a decent underground fan base but no national prominence. But then “Magnolia,” the third single from Carti’s eponymous debut mixtape (released in April ) entered the “song of the summer” debate in hip-hop circles around the country (alongside names like Kendrick Lamar, DJ Khaled and Drake, no less). Now he has enjoyed an NBA finals commercial placement, Jay Z twitter shoutout and a spot on the annual XXL Magazine Freshman List that recognizes the biggest new acts in hip-hop.
The Miami SoundCloud rapper with a bevy of bass-heavy songs knows how to craft catchy records and capture ears. The majority of his songs on SoundCloud have millions of plays. His earliest hit, “Ski Mask,” has more than 12 million spins. According to indie music blog Pigeons and Planes, in the last four months alone Smokepurpp’s Spotify followers have increased by more than 400 percent and more than 140 percent on YouTube. Think of Flyover as your chance to get on the Smokepurpp train before it leaves the station.
Rory Fresco of Kansas City and AyEl of Kansas City, Kan., are two of the area’s most popular young hip-hop artists. Fresco, who in 2016 turned a viral stroke of SoundCloud luck into a deal with Epic Records, released his second project, “Teen Spirit,” in June. A rapper with pop star aspirations, he has made noticeable strides in honing and polishing his pop image (the look is different, the music is evolving) and seems to have hit a groove creating consistent new material. Still, with fewer than five shows to his credit, there’s still much to learn about him as a live performer.
AyEl doesn’t have a record deal or much national recognition yet, but with “The Motion,” still one of the most radio-ready pop records floating around Kansas City today, and his recent single, “Diamond,” the question of AyEl’s stardom still seems to lean more toward “when” than “if.” Both artists were included in The Star’s recent award-winning profile of up and coming rap acts.