Atlanta's three-day A3C Hip Hop Festival is the biggest celebration of live rap music in the Southeast, and Brian Knott is the founder of the party. Boasting a line-up that includes Big K.R.I.T., Freddie Gibbs, Big Daddy Kane, Random Axe, and plenty more, A3C is the destination for hip-hop heads this weekend.
Complex spoke with Brian about what's set to go down October 6-8 in the ATL.
(For tickets to A3C, please click here.)
Complex: We’re only a few days away from the event—what remains to be done?
Brian Knott: [Laughs.] Well. Actually, it’s kind of nice. All the flights are booked, all of the hotel reservations have been made, all the staging is done. We work with a massive volunteer staff, and just getting all of those people pointed in the right direction is probably the biggest piece of the puzzle remaining. Because it’s hip-hop, we sell literally almost half of our three-day passes in the last six days. Every single stereotype about hip-hop [and lateness] is true. [Laughs.] And we’ll also have to respond to six hundred emails in the next few days asking, “Yo, how do I get on? Can I get on?” And it’s like, “Yeaaaah.” But we’ll have some surprises. Every year it seems that someone is in town, recording or whatever, and at the last minute they’ll call us to get a spot.
What’s the biggest surprise you’ve had?
The first year that we did it, I’m standing next to the stage and Brother J from X-Clan and Akil from Jurassic 5 literally tap me on the shoulder. They’re like, “Hey, can we get on the stage?” I’m like, “YES! I mean, yes. However we can get this to work, yes.” That was the first night of the first time we ever did A3C. And since then we’ve had all sorts of guys. Last year, Killer Mike brought out Immortal Technique, who was recording down here.
How did you get into hip-hop?
When I was 11, I went to a graduation party with someone my mother worked with and that was it. It was 1985. There was a DJ.
What was the song?
I don’t know if I can narrow it down. I just remember sitting there, watching the DJ go off and thinking that this was it for me. Then, when I was in college, I lived in Philly, and I remember witnessing the back and forth between the Roots and the Goats. They were Philly’s yin and yang. And this was before Do You Want More?!!!??!. You know, before the Roots were the Jimmy Fallon’s band, they the Khyber Pass’s Wednesday residence band. Then I moved to Atlanta right at the end of the dotcom movement, and I had some money. I knew I wanted to do something with the business-side of hip-hop, and like every idiot the first thing I did was start a label. A3C was born from that fledgling label.
Who are you most excited for this year?
You’re gonna make me make 249 other acts mad. [Laughs.] The two people I’m most happy about are—well, first let me say that we’ve showcased a number of acts that have gone on to blow up and become much harder to reach on the telephone afterward. And I think that Big K.R.I.T. and Freddie Gibbs are about to become tough to get a hold of. I’m someone who has lived in Atlanta and has made my living with Southern rap, and every time I hear K.R.I.T. I think, “This is what we sound like now.” He’s the new face of the South, along with Pill to a certain degree. But K.R.I.T. is that guy.
What sort of experience does A3C offer?
I think we offer the opportunity to spend some time with a large number of like-minded people. It’s a gathering. Sure, part of it is seeing Kane, all those guys. But, for me, getting heads to hang out, that’s what I think is most important. There's no VIP, there’s no back-stage area, there’s no hospitality tent. Instead, you have artists wild’n out to other performers with the crowd. That’s A3C.
What’s been your song of the summer?
“Burn” from Killer Mike’s Pl3dge record. I think Mike is one of the most talented emcees ever. He’s an incredibly good man, on top of being an incredibly good emcee. Also, the Random Axe record. You know, I live in the suburbs with two small children and a Labrador retriever, but every time I hear that record I want to do something stupid. I was talking to Jean Grae one time, and she said, “When I’m looking for some ignorant shit, I want it to be really ignorant.” And that’s the Random Axe record.