Hey y’all! Hopscotch 2016 has hit Raleigh, and there’s a loaded lineup. Sept. 8-10 sees a smattering of bands take stages ranging from Red Hat Ampitheater to Kings, Lincoln Theatre, and Pour House. Need a bit of help navigating the extensive list of gigs? Here are my top picks:

Vince Staples

Vince Staples is a Long Beach, California hip hop phenom. His much-lauded 2015 debut album Summertime ’06 earned Staples inclusion on several best-of lists, the likes of which included Stereogum and The A.V. Club, as well as being named a member of XXL‘s 2015 Freshman Class. But you don’t have to take my word for it. In my interview of Aesop Rock, Aesop mentioned Staples as a cat he was listening to.

Erykah Badu

Neo-soul powerhouse Erykah Badu has achieved huge success as a singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. Her 1997 debut album Baduizm garnered her critical acclaim, and since she’s been holding it down with a slew of releases. Badu has collaborated with the likes of The Roots, and gave a tour de force performance on “Lodi Dodi” with Snoop Dogg at Bonnaroo in 2009, a show I had the great pleasure of witnessing live.

Sylvan Esso

Durham, NC’s own indie pop duo consisting of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, Sylvan Esso has risen to prominence as one of the greatest Carolina productions since deep fried Oreoes. Meath’s crooning, folk vocals oozing over Sanborn’s electronic backdrop create a delightful, genre-defying electronica-folk vibe.


Kelela’s Cut 4 Me and Hallucinogen EP meld genres for a wholly unique sound. With a retro-modern 80’s synth aesthetic, she’s earned accolades from the likes of Bjork. Her set is certainly a promising act to catch.

Young Thug

Atlanta-based rapper Young Thug is a rarity in Southern hip hop. Like Outkast, he’s got unique style from vocals and lyrics to fashion. Thug’s led a successful solo career, and collabrated with a bevy of Southern rappers including T.I., Gucci Mane, and Birdman.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Heavy lyricism, deep basslines, and gorgeous harmonies define Rainbow Kitten Surprise. Hailing from Boone, NC, RKS have crafted a distinct sound that’s excellent live.

Anderson .Paak

Appearing on  The Game’s The Documentary 2, and Dr. Dre’s Compton (and speaking of which, where the heck is Detox…?), Anderson .Paak proceeded to drop his mind-blowing sophomore album Malibu. The funky, soulful album exhibits a range of influences, as well as .Paak’s versatility as an artist.

Honorable Mentions

With over 10 venues, and spanning three days, there are loads of worth bands to list. Other best-picks include the punk-tinged Beach Slang, bluesy Adia Victoria, slop pop duo Diet Cig, and sax quartet Battle Ax. A slew of NC bands feature prominently into the lineup: Al Riggs (Raleigh), Bad Friends (Durham), Bodykit (Raleigh), Boulevards (Raleigh), C/\L/\PSE (Durham), Charming Youngsters (Durham), Crete (Raleigh), Daniel Bachman & Friends (Durham), Dynamite Brothers (Chapel Hill), Earthly (Carrboro), Eldritch Horror (Raleigh), Ghrohg (Raleigh), Hotlne (Raleigh), Housefire (Durham), Jodi (Durham), Konovi (Asheville), Kooley High (Raleigh), Lacy Jaggs (Carrboro), Make (Carrboro), Necrocosm (Raleigh), No One Mnd (Greensboro), Oak City Slums (Raleigh), Pie Face Girls (Raleigh), Pink Flag (Durham), S.E. Ward (Chapel Hill), Sarah Shook & The Disarmers (Chapel Hill), Sneakers (Chapel Hill), Rainbow Kitten Surprise (Boone), Sylan Esso (Durham), The Dead Tongues (Asheville), The Hell No (Raleigh), The Wyrms (Carrboro), Tree City (Duham), Tuskha (Durham), Weird Pennies (Raleigh), and Zensofly (Raleigh). It’s always pleasant to see local acts so heavily highlighted.

Who are you most excited to see? Comment below or hit me up via socal media. Follow @mitchellclong and @Cup_Of_Moe on Twitter, and @mitchellclong on Instagram for live coverage!