Vans Warped Tour 2011 at Cruzan Amphitheatre July 30
The Vans Warped Tour began as a haven for skateboarders and punk kids who wanted to party with bands like No Doubt and Sublime. But over the course of its 17-year history, the tour has reinvented itself time and again. And although punk continues to be the main draw, hip-hop is a close second. For years, rap acts such as Eminem, M.I.A., Talib Kweli, Jurassic 5, Kool Keith, and Ice-T have taken the lineup beyond Warped's regular diet of hardcore and punk acts.
"I know that the tour has evolved and the music is not like it used to be when it first started," says Yelawolf, arguably the biggest hip-hop draw at Warped 2011. "There's more pop, pop-rock, dance-rock punk, swag, hardcore. I'm honored to be a part of it, really."
Yelawolf's blend of straight hip-hop with a rawer, mosh-ready performance style works as a nice complement and counterpoint to more straightforward Warped acts such as Against Me! and Dance Gavin Dance. But Yela, who now counts Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker as a friend and collaborator, thinks there's more to it. "We all grew up on the same shit. It's a shared culture," he explains. "It's not like how it used to be. A lot of these punk bands grew up on Three 6 Mafia too. One even told me: 'If I wasn't doing this shit, I'd be rapping.'"
Appropriately, when Warped hits West Palm Beach this Saturday, there will be an entire area dedicated to rap — dubbed the Bring It Back Stage — where Yelawolf, Miami's own Parable, and more than a dozen other hip-hoppers will hold court. Part of only eight stops on this year's tour, this stage is meant to foster a grassroots connection with hip-hop and its four essential elements — break-dancing, graffiti, turntablism, and MCing. So aside from the music, there will also be live art demonstrations, DJ exhibitions, and b-boy ciphers.
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Lake Worth hip-hop label Footwork4Self got involved with Bring It Back last year. And as a result, the label's Mr. Chief, Jabrjaw & DJ Dee Dubbs, and Cadet Yo will perform at this year's SoFla stop, and Footwork4Self is helping put together the official afterparty at the Speakeasy Lounge, featuring local acts Protoman and Zillaintry.
Coming from an underground hip-hop background, Protoman is used to playing a lot of punk rock and hardcore shows, as well as seeing fans wearing both brand-new Nikes and beat-up Chuck Taylors. "Everyone is becoming more aware now that it's OK to like both kinds of music," he says. "But it's always been there since Def Jam and Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C. It's just a voice of the youth, and right now the youth are into so many different things. Everybody is just kind of playing everything, 'cause everything is good."
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