Rhyme. Rhythm. Reinvention. Respect.

In the five decades since hip-hop emerged in New York City, it has spread across the country and the world. And at each step there’s been change and adaptation as new, different voices came in and made it their own. It’s touched everything, from art and fashion to sports and social justice. This year’s festival lineup brings some potent hip-hop to Big Ears’ stages.

Digable Planets

Digable Planets Portrait Session backstage Neptune Theater, Seattle Washington August 9, 2019. L to R: Craig “Doodlebug” Irving, Mariana “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira and Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler

 A pioneering act that continues to cast a wide-ranging, genre-bending influence, Digable Planets (Ishmael Butler, Craig Irving, and Mary Ann Vieira) have left an indelible mark on music. More than thirty years after their debut, Reachin’,their music still shines, and the iconic group continues to bring their celebrated stage show to excited crowds around the world. Don’t miss your chance to see this legendary hip-hop trio on Saturday, March 23 at Big Ears Festival.

Read: “30 Years Ago Digable Planets Changed Hip-hop”

Roc Marciano

Roc Marciano is the king of the underground rap scene — revered for his moody, claustrophobic beats and stream-of-consciousness, heavily stylized lyrics. He recently sat down with producer the Alchemist to chat about the process behind their latest record, The Elephant Man’s Bones (2022). Welcome Roc Marciano to Big Ears Festival on Saturday, March 23.

Read: “How Roc Marciano Became King of the Rap Underground”


MAVI is a unicorn in a metric-driven era. He’s independent, financially self-sufficient, and urgent in his work. His style blends laid-back beats with alluring lyrics. Since his 2019 debut, he’s received critical acclaim for staying true to his artistic vision. Don’t miss this hip-hop innovator at the Big Ears Festival on Friday, March 22.

Read: “Rapper Mavi on his new album ‘Laughing so Hard it Hurts”

Armand Hammer

Armand Hammer is the collaboration between billy woods and Elucid and over the last decade, they have been releasing music that is unlike anything else in rap. Their latest record, We Buy Diabetic Test Strips, was released last September. In an interview with the New York Times, the duo discusses how their critically acclaimed 2023 album, We Buy Diabetic Test Strips, grapples with poverty, urban life, and gentrification, but also with growing into their roles as fathers, both to their respective children and to the wider underground hip-hop scene of which they are now elders. See them in action on Saturday, March 23.

Read: “Armand Hammer Keeps a Foot in the Past, but Its Eyes on the Future”

billy woods

The second child of a Jamaican intellectual and a would-be Marxist revolutionary, billy woods is a rapper who defies easy categorization. On the mic his versatile flows and ability to tackle topics other artists wouldn’t dream of brings a unique perspective to the familiar ones. Catch him Sunday, March 24, at the Big Ears Festival.

Read: “billy woods is Finally Having His Moment”

Fly Siifu

Fly Anakin and Pink Siifu have created an electrifying duo that combines Anakin’s Mutant Academy roots with Siifu’s soulful rap and punk flair. The result is a sound that is both unique and captivating, leaving listeners yearning for more. Experience their infectious chemistry on Sunday, March 24, at the Big Ears Festival.

Read: “Fly Siifu Create a Fictional Record Store”

Knoxville, TN · USA



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