Ultra 2014: Chance the Rapper, Riff Raff, Pusha T, Dizzee Rascal

Photo by George Martinez

Saturday saw less rap action, but got a double-hitter when Riff Raff brought Far East Movement to the stage.

Both the Houstonite and his Asian-American friends have strong ties to the dance-music world. Riff Raff is signed to Diplo's Mad Decent, and his well-known nonsense is a favorite of EDMers.

He turned things up with wacky dancers and giant cutouts of his own face, Katy Perry, and a random baby wolf head.

Photo by George Martinez

Though we're not particularly fans of Riff Raff's style, we can appreciate good showmanship. Unfortunately, the artist seemed more winded than energized, only half-rapping along to his own backing track and meandering from side to side on the stage.

When Far East Movement came out, it immediately brought more hype to the scene than Raff could manage. It was a nice surprise and helped bring the set to a close with some oomph.

Photo by George Martinez

Sunday was the day of the real legends, beginning with Pusha T's stellar performance.

Famous for his solo work on Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label, he's been an influential hip-hopper since his days as one-half of Clipse. He masterfully delivered with plenty of bangers from his recent My Name Is My Name LP, plus some crowd favorites including "Mercy," "Runaway," and "Don't Like."

"Let's be clear," the rapper said before going into "Now God Flow," "G.O.O.D. Music makes the hardest records in hip-hop."

We can't argue with Pusha on that point, and the G.O.O.D. crew definitely brings tracks that DJs love to play. But as far as bringing the heaviest rap set at Ultra, we're going to give the nod to the one-and-only original dubstep rapper Dizzee Rascal.

Photo by George Martinez

Hailing from London, the grimey, dirty stank "Bassline Junkie" was easily one of the most energetic performers to hit Ultra 2014's live stage -- hip-hop or not. He kicked it off proper with tracks from his debut, Boy in Da Corner, pumping people up with "Fix Up, Look Sharp," and teaching them about "real London dubstep" with "I Love You." He gave them dancey tunes with "Holiday" and "Arse Like That."

The most refreshing thing about Dizzee was his no-gimmicks style. He didn't need a big picture of his own face or flashy dancers to get the crowd goin'. All he had was a badass turntablist, an incredibly talented singer, a real hypeman, and his own insane flow.

Photo by George Martinez

When his set ended, we left encouraged by the knowledge that real hip-hop has a place in fans' hearts and heads, even at a dance music festival like Ultra.

As 2014 progresses, the future of EDM is a mystery. We're sure some star will rise from the abyss, and of course, some Diplo song is sure to capture everyone's attention before the year is done. But when it comes to fresh new sounds making waves, we're looking to hip-hop.

Will there be even more rappers at Ultra 2015? Maybe someone can actually make it beyond the live stage for a chance to capture a real crowd. Either way, hip-hop is officially back in style, and these dudes are killing it.

Location Info


Klipsch Amphitheater at Bayfront Park

301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

Category: Music

Bayfront Park

301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

Category: General

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