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Scene Report

De La Soul, Swae Lee & RAMENGVRL rock Hong Kong

The past, present & future of Hip Hop all made the weekend something special

LiFTED | Marcus Aurelius | 4 Dec 2023

Like vibrant, floating wild mushrooms protruding out of the harsh Hong Kong concrete jungle, Clockenflap Music and Arts Festival delivered a top-notch spectacle from December 1 to 3. The weather was perfect. Getting to and from and in and out of the venue was easy. And the music…it’s always all about the music. De La Soul brought tears to people’s faces. Swae Lee swung down and Spider-Maned the crowd. And RAMENGVRL came for the afterparty and slayed it.

Hip Hop heavyweights De La Soul owned Saturday night. The Amityville, New York trio had Hong Kong eating out of the palm of their hands as soon as DJ Maseo aka Vinny Merlot aka Plug 3 started playing tunes to get people in the mood.

As soon as Plug 1 aka Posdnuos hit the stage running, the crowd went wild. For the next hour, Hong Kong was De La Heaven as one of the best Rap groups of all time played a majority of their greatest hits. A few songs in, Talib Kweli made a guest appearance and did a few of his tracks. Instead of popping in and out, Talib stayed on stage and covered Plug 2 aka Trugoy’s spot, after he passed away earlier this year.

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When Hip Hop MCs have been doing shows for 30 years, it shows. De La’s crowd control on every song was perfect. Different corners had to battle who could be the loudest, phones with the flashlights were on, and everyone had to scream ‘Yeah’ with the group as the intro for ‘Ego Trippin’.’

The finale was grand indeed. Talib started off with his Kanye-produced Nina Simone sampling ‘Get By,’ which has two take-em-to-church sections. That raucousness floated into the breezy ‘Saturdays’ and the final song, ‘Me Myself and I.’ Looking around during De La Soul’s set, families brought their little ones to sit on their shoulders, teens were grooving, and everyone had smiles on their faces. This is what Hip Hop is about.

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Only a few days ago, Swae Lee was in Hong Kong for the Louis V fashion show. He got the call when Joji canceled his close-out Sunday night set as a replacement and delivered in all the right ways. The 30-year-old is one-half of Rae Sremmurd, and he’s got hits on hits on hits.

From the jump, Swae’s elation to be in Hong Kong headlining “Chickenflap or Clockenflap” was palatable as he came out to ‘No Type’ and ‘Hopeless Romantic.’ His energy was infectious and the crowd was screaming every word to all of his hits. His playfulness was on display as he brought up three fans who were dressed as Spider-Man to dance with him when he played his songs from the Spider-verse including the chart-topping ‘Sunflower.’

Swae made the best of his extra time in Hong Kong by debuting an Afrobeats-influenced song that he said he shot a video for with Pharrell over the past few days. He also was having so much fun that his pants ripped and he just kept going and going.

Ending the festival with ‘Powerglide,’ Swae saved Sunday for Clockenflap. In one part of his set, he even asked the crowd to scream “We love you, Joji” into the sky, which definitely made Joji’s fans feel some type of way.

On Friday night, BBno$ banged out a fun Hip Hop set onstage that took people back to the days of their youth hanging out in Lan Kwai Fong. At the LiFTED-sponsored Clockenflap afterparty at Soho House, RAMENGVRL played her debut set and showed what the future of Hip Hop looks like. The Indonesian MC set the tone with ‘I AM ME,’ raised the energy with ‘Vaselina,’ got a few Twerkers on stage with her, and jumped in the crowd for the finale ‘CA$HMERE.’ Hong Kong felt the vibe and rocked with RAMEN hard.