A review of MIKE's 3rd iteration of his annual music festival Young World

Written by: Dante Esser


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CO: MIKE's IG (@mikelikesrap)

Hip-hop was born in the park, and it’s being resuscitated there too. As I approached Herbert Von King Park, I saw a sea of people. Even more crowded than last year. This is the third edition of Young World, and it is in peak form. 

This year's lineup featured heavy hitters 454, Jay Critch, and Noname (Lord forgive me for missing AKAI SOLO's set). Plus, the man that put this whole thing together, MIKE. The day was full of surprise drop-ins as well. El Cousteau graced the stage for his face-melting track “Nitro,” and defiantly stomped around. I first heard the track when some friends of mine kept repeating the phrase, “Ralph Lauren button down, my mother thinks I’m cross dressing.” When I asked what that was, my compatriot replied “A hit.” 

Niontay unsurprisingly took the stage as well. The man has been MIKE’s lung on their most recent tour, so it was only right. He played his tropical bop “Aint Sh*t.” In the classic Hip-hop fashion, the entire line up bopped behind him onstage. The intro sample to the song serves as a kind of thesis for 10k. “They gone let us in the door or we’re gonna kick that b*tch in.” Everything the collective does is on their own terms, and that refusal to compromise is why they can get five thousand beautiful people to hang out in a park, despite the signs of an eminent thunderstorm.

The biggest surprise of the day was formerly-inside-now-outside Earl Sweatshirt blessing the crowd with his newest EvilGiane produced track “Making the Band.” I frantically looked up Gene Hackman, and lamented about how far we wandered from the stage to check out some vendors. 

I pulled some brews out of the inconspicuous bag we’d brought, and did some people watching. The crowd is interesting. Old heads, dusty Brooklyn hipsters in their big-pants-tiny-shirt combos, and more jorts than I could count, but the crowd was most definitely majority Black. Models, Skaters, I spotted Noname in the crowd not really being noticed, and later Redveil enjoying himself to MIKE’s set. A million daps are exchanged. Ig mutuals, old friends and associates, all brought together by the love of being outside. 

CO: Dante

Something I like about 10k’s batch of artists, and their overall network, is that everyone’s just a guy or gal. The facade of celebrity is totally shattered. Young World is today’s beautiful North Star in a culture that’s been completely Rolling Loudified. While the viral moments that major festivals like Rolling Loud create can be enjoyable, it’s undoubtedly pure commodification through and through. You can see it in the crowd, the cooperation with police, and the organizers. Young World isn’t a cash grab, but a mission statement. You see it with everyone on stage. 

454 brought a burst of energy to Herbert Von King Park. His anthems “Andretti” and “FaceTime” got the crowd in full karaoke mode. Someone tweeted it’s impossible for a song to be this good in response to "TALES FROM THE HOOD," and this statement is even truer live. You’d think 454's voice is drowned in effects, but after seeing him a few times, nah his drawl and high voice is just him. Alien tunes. 

Onto the man of the hour, MIKE. Throughout his whole set, the man looks like the ancestors are speaking through him. Controlling the crowd easily with call and response, and demolishing “Ipari Park.” Something I’ve always liked about MIKE’s artistry is how he sounds so calm on tracks themselves, but always projects himself in an other-worldly way in live settings. He thanks the crowd a million times. 

MIKE was cut off by the rain. The park rep comes out talking about lightning, saying they need to take a 10 minute break. Everyone waits with bated breath, and some start to leave, but thankfully it’s just a little drizzle and the show goes on.

One could definitely say Jay Critch was the most out of place act on this bill, but the cool thing about the scene that 10k has cultivated is most folks are entirely open-minded. I used to love “Thousand Ways” like everyone else. Rich the Kid will pay for his crimes against humanity. Also, it was worth it just to cultivate this image. 

CO: Jay Critch's Twitter (@jaycritch)

Mavi followed. Samples that sound like hugs and emotional rawness filled the air. I cannot believe Let The Sun Talk is a high-school-career old. Godd*mn covid did a number on my brain, but I digress.

After Georgia Anne Muldrow serenaded the audience with what seemed to be Aretha Franklin gospel-tinted free styles, Noname was up. Countless people I’d talked to in the field had discussed their emancipation. They talked about the rarity of her live performances and excitement for a new project. She started out with “Song 33.” A scathing and beautiful track where Noname took J. Cole to task and meditated on the state of the world in 2020. I complain to one of my friends about the state of capitalism right now and some folks walking by yell “Yes, it’s all capitalism!”

As she works through her set, the crowd settles into the palm of Noname's hand. Reciting hits off Telefone, to her more recent number series. I’m compelled by the sudden urge to read Frantz Fanon

Then she dropped a freestyle, taking aim at everybody from Jay Z to Kendrick. “They’re going to get me out of here for that one."

 Noname is the perfect type of artist to cap an event like this off. Unapologetically black, thought-provoking, and graceful.

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