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10 must-see acts at Las Vegas hip-hop festival Day N Vegas

We’d call it a running start, but it feels more like a sprint.

Enter Day N Vegas, a hip-hop-heavy festival launching this weekend as if fired from a slingshot.

Exit previously held notions of how long it takes to establish an event of this caliber.

New festivals typically require a few years to build their brand and become a substantial draw — if they ever do.

Take Life is Beautiful, for instance: It wasn’t until after a make-or-break third year that the music and arts festival truly turned the corner, graduating to now drawing upward of 195,000 fans over three days each fall.

Sure, Electric Daisy Carnival was a hit from day one in Las Vegas, but it was an established event before relocating here in 2011, then it became even more massive.

A startup is something different.

And so is Day N Vegas: The festival has managed the rare feat of selling out in advance of its first incarnation.

How did they do it?

By filling a void, for starters.

As Vegas increasingly becomes a destination market for festivals, the city is home to fests centered around dance music (EDC), punk rock (Punk Rock Bowling), heavy music of various stripes (Psycho Las Vegas and Las Rageous) and rockabilly (Viva Las Vegas).

Sure, the wide-ranging Life is Beautiful has always had its share of hip-hop acts — all three of Day N Vegas’ headliners have played LiB — but no festival has catered exclusively to what has become arguably the most popular form of contemporary music.

Day N Vegas has done just that, with promoter Goldenvoice, the company behind Coachella, most notably, curating a lineup of more than 100 acts covering just about every corner of the genre.

There are the superstar arena-fillers in J. Cole, Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar topping the lineup each night.

They’ll be joined by an array of acts, from “Old Town Road” rapper Lil Nas X to R&B sensualist Miguel to trap chart toppers Migos to hip-hop boy band Brockhampton to of-the-moment singer Summer Walker and scads more.

As for the vibe of the festival, expect something distinctly Vegas.

“I am drawn to the look and feel of classic Vegas: bright lights and vintage Vegas glamour,” says Jeffrey Schuman, Goldenvoice’s talent buyer for Day N Vegas. “Our goal for Day N Vegas was to bring together that iconography alongside all of today’s best hip-hop and rap artists.”

10 must-see acts

With so much to see, you won’t be able to take everything in, but here are 10 acts that you need to catch:

Megan Thee Stallion, Friday: There’s brash, and then there’s this 24-year-old Houston MC, who possesses the zeppelin-sized ego of a diva NFL wideout and the glass-shard-sharp rhymes to back it up. So, back up.

Denzel Curry, Friday: If you haven’t seen Denzel Curry’s ferocious, pulse-goosing take on Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on the Parade,” which he performed earlier this year for the “Like a Version” video series from Australian radio network Triple J, check it out — and then do the same when Curry hits Vegas like fist to jaw.

21 Savage, Saturday: 21 Savage often drops his rhymes deliberately, letting them sink in, marinate, voice drowsy, words eye-opening. He wants you to feel what he’s saying, even if it doesn’t always feel so good, his subject matter occasionally as grim as crime-scene photos. After debuting atop the charts in December with his latest record, “I Am > I Was,” his rise has been as swift as his delivery is laconic.

DaBaby, Saturday: Registering like the adrenaline shot to Mia Wallace’s heart during guest spots with the likes of Lizzo, Post Malone and Chance the Rapper, the suddenly ubiquitous DaBaby is having a breakout year. His winning streak continues on the album “Kirk,” which debuted at No. 1 in September. It’s the verbal equivalent of a track meet. Bring an oxygen tank.

Rico Nasty, Saturday: Your nose is less in-your-face than this 22-year-old hellion with a chip on her shoulder the size of a Toyota Camry. On her latest mixtape, “Anger Management,” Nasty’s idea of the titular therapy technique is abusing her vocal cords and your earholes with equal vehemence. Yes, there will be yelling.

Cuco, Sunday: And now for a little counterprogramming. The blown kiss to Rico Nasty’s blown fuse, Cuco’s big-hearted bedroom pop should register as an autumnal breeze cooling so many inflamed passions.

Hippie Sabotage, Sunday: Making subwoofers quake like they’ve just seen a ghost, DJ-producer brothers Kevin and Jeff Saurer specialize in hip-hop-informed EDM that’ll be something of an outlier at Day N Vegas, much like rappers are at Electric Daisy Carnival, though still a welcome presence.

Tyler, the Creator, Sunday: When Tyler, the Creator first broke onto the scene a decade ago, he was like a cross between a whoopee cushion and a snuff film, favoring shock tactics and a sense of humor that bordered on the gleefully grotesque. He’s since blossomed into one of hip-hop’s most artistically uninhibited figures, his latest album, the soulful “Igor,” among the year’s best.

Kali Uchis, Sunday: “She’s a hurricane, feel the earth shake / If the devil was asleep she’d knock him wide awake,” Kali Uchis sings on her 2018 debut, “Isolation,” giving dreamy voice to a third-person narrative with first-person implications. With collaborators including alt-popsters Gorillaz, funk space case Bootsy Collins and scene square peg Tyler, the Creator underscoring her artistic breadth on said album, Uchis connects the dots between vintage soul and Latin pop and the most live of hip-hop live wires.

Ski Mask the Slump God, Sunday: Flier than an ostrich, this 23-year-old Florida native and former XXXTentacion running buddy is equally playful and pugnacious on the mic, his rhymes and pop culture references as colorful, slick and all-over-the-place as a bag of marbles spilled on a hockey rink.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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