BY BEN RUBENSTEIN
The Pitchfork Music Festival has exposed crowds to many different sounds in its six-year history, but when it comes to hip-hop the offerings have been more limited. Clipse, Pharoahe Monch and Ghostface Killah have been the biggest current acts to hit the stages in recent years, but otherwise nostalgia has mainly reigned (Public Enemy, De La Soul, GZA).
This year, things have improved somewhat, with highly anticipated performances from Big Boi and Freddie Gibbs, but it didn't help change Pitchfork's indie-rock rep when two of the few remaining hip-hop-related performers -- Dam-Funk and Raekwon -- were forced to go basically head to head on Saturday afternoon.
For his part, Raekwon was begging the crowd to "please let me do these classics," and there appeared to be no resistance - except for the persistent cutting out of the sound system. It looked like a disaster in the making, but things eventually turned around, as the Chef (outfitted in an "I (heart) hip-hop" T-shirt) and his crew ripped through Wu-Tang Clan hits like "C.R.E.A.M.," "Can It Be All So Simple," and "Ice Cream." The biggest cheers came when Raekwon brought some young breakdancers on stage to do their thing and help the crowd in chanting "Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothin' to f--- wit!" Not exactly appropriate for 8-year-olds, but it made for a great festival moment.
No matter how good the performance, though, one wonders if Pitchfork will ever be viewed as a serious place for hip-hop.