It’s taken a little while to soak in but given that 2012 has undoubtably been the year of the festival, we had to break down what occurred in Atlanta for the 8th annual A3c Hip-Hop Festival. Some moments were shared with liquid inebriations, which is never a bad thing and others were shared with heavy wafts of weed in the air.

But for a festival to succeed, it has to maintain its niche. That’s been the backlash surrounding this year’s event which for the first time to new attendees or those who had become accustomed to everything being hunkered down at Masquerade was spread out. The shuttle system, although it was quite splendid and we made friends here and there doomed us when attempting to see Big Boi at Terminal West on Thursday night. Had Daddy Fat Sacks been the man to open up the larger outdoor stage in the back, things would have been much more smoother.

Missing events isn’t all that beneficial to a festival attendee. We love ala carte preferences but we also love when everything is in one spot. Little Five Points is lovely but it isn’t set up in the same sort of wall-to-wall bar fashion that Austin is set up for SXSW.

But we’re nitpicking here.

A3C offers some sort of centralized love that most festivals dont’ offer. After the slight headway we made in our initial trip in 2011, 2012 brought us squarely in the middle of our peers, people whom we’ve met and interacted with for the past 365 days and thoroughly enjoyed. We felt like it was a family reunion of sorts because there aren’t many times you can legit hang with one of Atlanta’s mayors in Sean Falyon, Cali’s El Prez and see people wild out to trap versions of EDM at MJQ.

The DJ Booth Stage. For the past two years we’ve attended has always been a highlight. This year bringing things back down to size a bit with Yelawolf (pictured above) among others was a treat. It was good seeing Catfish Billy get back on the stage and handle things accordingly following a few health scares over the past year. Him, Rittz and the rest of the Slumamerican camp always bring it on the stage and this year was no different.

Straight Outta Texas. To say night one and pretty much the entire trip belong to Texas based artists might be selling everything short. Considering that the Lone Star State held down its own spot inside Masquerade, it felt quiet like home watching Doughbeezy rip a set as a near headliner and also catching Lil Keke being begged by fans to perform “Southside”. Although that didn’t happen in Houston, David Stunts caught it here.

Hanging Out In Atlanta. A day after the festival had concluded we decided to make way to Cory Mo’s spot in Decatur to chop it with the legendary producer and get a little batch of Country Rap Tunes. He allowed us in on the lead track from the album which in short is the gospel and then GLC himself walked in to finish up a session. Mo’s spot was the main spot of relaxation for rappers who didn’t find themselves inside of a hotel room as the place became a literal photo booth for the likes of Killa Kyleon, Luke Duke and more. Church.

The Combat Jack Show, live in living color. As a general fan of the show, watching Dallas Penn & Combat Jack in a live element could have turned into a straight comedy show. Instead, the show played out exactly as it does in their studio back in NYC. DJ Drama came in to discuss his impact in the mixtape game, how things have changed since his rise as an Aphilliate and then some but the real laughs came from Atlanta’s own Killer Mike who broke down R.A.P. Music, his immense knowledge and the most unlikely hip-hop upbringing ever. Daddy was a cop, mama was a dope girl and we got Michael Render.

Panels, Panels, Panels. Obviously the dope thing about a festival like this is the knowledge gained by all of the legends involved with it. Just Blaze discussed his production with a damn near Hall of Fame panel featuring 9th Wonder, Young Guru, Statik Selektah and more. Guru himself closed down half of Masquerade on the festival’s final day to discuss the obvious questions about him working with Jay-Z but the more important ones such as balancing family life with such a hectic career. You attend these things to soak stuff in – as well as make connections.

Discovering New Acts. While the crew splintered off (Piper at Masquerade, Brando in Little Five Points), discovery of new acts and bands became smoother. We noticed Ducko McFill spilling a few things out inside of Star Bar thanks to his connection to ForteBowie whom we’ve met on a few occasions and deserves everything he’s getting (mind you, we were there for the Daddy Nino days). While most were anticipating Ab-Soul in the venue (which was at capacity by ten, same for most of the bars in Little Five Points), our eyes went squarely upon Trinidad James and how the ATLien has blown up buzz wise throughout the city. He’s been tackled by MediaTakeout and more since then and live, he’s a wild man who exhibits enough Atlanta swag to be all himself.

Inside of The 5 Spot, Saturday was easily the most awkward night to be there given that Devin the Dude was headlining a show that featured Slick Pulla, Alley Boy & Trouble. Given how amped Atlanta had been over the week thanks to Gucci Mane’s “promotion” of Trap God, anything could have popped off in that venue. Even host Maurice Garland had to comment in his typical flare, “That [aggin] is a loose cannon!”

Catching inDEED, DJ Burn One’s band fronted by Ricky Fontaine on the guitar and Walt Live on the keys was a definite highlight. First of all, there aren’ too many “bands” in hip-hop and watching two guys literally have fun during their own set while also playing backing roles for the likes of Scotty & SL Jones made for an interesting night. Their inDEEDFace mixtape is required listening, point blank.

Anything Can Happen. Thanks to no-shows and people missing flights, fans were treated to plenty of firsts, including Doughbeezy. Thursday, KAB Tha Don & Propain – both of whom weren’t even scheduled to perform on the bill decided to kick off the Straight Outta Texas tour to resounding effect. Bogarting to your rightful place became a mantra for Texas artists, especially Dough who after getting his set cut short Friday night decided to have his own set inside of The Five Spot. It’s a rappers festival – one you need to definitely attend if you’re serious about your craft and networking skills.

For photos and more, check out our Facebook page and see our official A3C gallery.