Low End Theory Festival is the Ultimate LA Hip-Hop Celebration

Article by: Graham Berry|@Festival_Writer

Tue August 04, 2015 | 00:00 AM

When the Low End Theory (LET) movement first got going in 2005, four of the LA beat scene's fiercest DJs – Daddy Kev, D-Styles, DJ Nobody, the Gaslamp Killer along with MC Nocando, a rapper from the city's renowned Project Blowed collective – came together to shred vinyl, flow and generally experiment with the local music they loved. It was a weekly tribute to all the inspirations they found in the surrounding hip-hop community and a celebration of what is now known far and wide as an authentically Los Angeles sound.

Today those same residents still assemble, like the avengers of electro-infused underground hip-hop, to host a weekly tradition that's been going down for almost a decade. So last year, when the LET residents announced their intention to collaborate on a summer festival, followers of the LET family packed the Echoplex to max capacity and sold out the event. As this weekend's second Low End Theory Festival 2015 draws nearer and graduates into the larger Shrine Expo Hall & Ground, it’s looking like the makings of a classic. 

What to Expect at LET Fest Year 2

This year, LET Festival continues its unique contribution to the festival scene. Flying Lotus’ signature Layer3 hypercube projection-mapped performance is nothing short of a religious experience. If that wasn’t enough, Earl Sweatshirt, the gritty wordsmith from LA's Odd Future, will make an appearance at the top of the lineup. Also leading the charge is the sex panther of funk-bass icons, Thundercat, who delivers jams so smooth you could spread them on toast. 

With the rest of the lineup rounded out by the likes of Nosaj Thing, Daedelus, Teebs, JonWayne, Ras G, Samiyam, and Astronautica – just to name a few – the fest is set to unleash a fury of high-octane, glitch-hop grooves.

A Chance To Be A Part of LET Festival 2015

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Photo by: Carl Pocket

In addition to the eclectic lineup, mixing workshops are offered along with an opportunity to get in on the action. In addition, several DJs have entered a contest for the chance to perform at LET Fest. Ten of the semi-finalists will be selected by LET residents, while the last five finalists will be chosen by Flying Lotus himself. If the chance to perform alongside all these demi-gods isn’t enough to get young musicians excited, the street cred that comes from being recognized by these legends ought to be.

The Current Evolution of the Low End Theory Tradition

Over the years, the LET weekly has seen many in its crew ascend the ranks to be considered among the most-loved DJs in the city, and it continues to be an incubator of fresh talent. It has also been a home to Flying Lotus’ homegrown label Brainfeeder which includes contemporary greats like Azizi Gibson, Daedelus, Jeremiah Jae, Kamasi Washington, Lapalux, Mr. Oizo and Tokimonsta. With the early addition of psychedelic cinematographers Strangeloop and Timeboy, visuals also became an important part of the signature LET experience. From those contributions, The Teaching Machine collective was formed to nurture new talent that could curate video and animation to accompany LET's onstage performances.

The Future of Hip-Hop?

Today, just as playing the weekly LET event is viewed as a rite of passage for aspiring rappers and DJs in Los Angeles, a performance at the festival is similarly celebrated as a career milestone. The diverse elements that are characteristic of LET create a foothold in future hip-hop for the entirety of the emerging Los Angeles scene. 

In fact, the qualities that best defines LET are the connections that fans have with the artists. The wizards never disappear backstage; instead, they explode with cosmic energy behind the turntables and then simply saunter into the crowd to make casual conversation and enjoy the next set. Ultimately, they’re fans enjoying the fellowship of the show just like the rest of us. At a recent LET weekly, Gaslamp Killer captured the feeling beautifully when he paused mid-set, looked out into the crowd with outstretched arms and shouted: “This place is like a home to me. This is the closest thing I've ever had to a church.”

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If you're in Los Angeles this weekend, grab tickets to Low End Theory Festival 2015 here.