Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash Credit: courtesy Lyrical Lemonade

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Illinois native Cole Bennett launched the hip-hop blog Lyrical Lemonade in fall 2013, and it’s since become a blossoming entertainment empire that hosts shows (including July’s Hurt Everybody reunion) and operates its own clothing line. Bennett uses the LL logo—a lemonade carton—on every music video he directs, and since he’s become the most sought-after video director of the Soundcloud-rap generation, it’s emblazoned videos for Chicago breakout emo-rap star Juice Wrld (“Lucid Dreams”), Florida motormouth Ski Mask the Slump God (“DoIHaveTheSause?”), and Pennsylvania Soundcloud-rap heartthrob Lil Skies (“Creepin”). The latter two rappers are among the 25 artists who’ll perform at Summer Smash, a festival Lyrical Lemonade began organizing in late spring. Summer Smash shows how far LL has come in less than five years; the outdoor music event has a lineup that can compete with the big dogs of the city’s already crowded festival market. More than a fifth of the bill comes from Chicago, though LA is now home base for south-side native Famous Dex, who’s persevered despite losing a spot on XXL’s Freshman Class in 2017 after footage of him committing an assault leaked; his debut studio album, April’s Dex Meets Dexter (300 Entertainment), peaked at number 12 on the Billboard 200. The bill also includes locals such as shape-shifting Save Money rapper Vic Mensa, rising phenom Queen Key (the lineup’s lone woman), influential underground figure Lucki, and inquisitive, thoughtful MC Mick Jenkins, who recently fell out with independent label Cinematic Music Group—whose marquee artist, Joey Badass, headlines Summer Smash. Billed just below Badass is Soundcloud rap’s chosen wailer, Trippie Redd, who may be the biggest act of the evening. Still, many of the most exciting performers of the fest appear earlier in the day, so make sure to get there early to check them out. I’m particularly excited to see Houston rapper Maxo Kream, whose empathetic, immersive Punken (TSO/Kream Clicc) is one of the best albums of any genre to come out this year.   v