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A Hip-Hop Guide to Bonnaroo

Once an event firmly rooted in the jam band culture, the Bonnaroo Arts & Music Festival, which kicks off today in Manchester, Tennessee, has been opening up to new genres in recent years. Since the Roots christened hip-hop at the festival in 2002, the genre has always had a presence, but this summer marks the first time in the festival’s history that a hip-hop act — Jay-Z — has headlined the main stage. Last year, the Beastie Boys came close, hitting the What Stage right before headliners Phish unleashed their experimental stoner rock.

This weekend’s bill has more hip-hop than ever descending upon the green pastures of Bonnaroo’s home some 40 miles outside of Nashville. Look for Jay-Z to build on his Coachella success with a late night Saturday headlining set that is sure to plug fan favorites from his upcoming greatest hits record. Adding to the eclecticism, Nas is scheduled to hook-up with recent collaborator Damian Marley for a ‘Distant Relatives’-rich mixture of hip-hop and reggae.

For more of a new artist fix, the younger class will be represented by the cinematic flourishes of Kid Cudi, B.o.B.‘s mixture of rap, pop and guitar, as well as the D.C. bounce of Wale. For some tongue-twisting rhymes and tirades against the police, you can check out Jay Electronica. And if you’re in for a comedy fix, Bonnaroo’s popular Comedy Tent will host Conan O’Brien and hip-hop fanatic Aziz Ansari aka RAAAAAAAANDY, who you can count on for some great Kanye West-related stories. (Let us not forget the now infamous Kanye set of Bonnaroo 2008, which left festival revelers chanting “F— Kanye!”)

Tickets for the festival, which takes place June 10-13, are still available. You can check out the full lineup and make a last minute purchase here.

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