When we talk about the Chicago Renaissance, it's impossible to do so without recognizing the many stages across the city that organizers like REACT Presents, who produce Mamby on the Beach, North Coast and Spring Awakening among others. While the many stages have offered local acts opportunities those in smaller markets would only dream of, the expectation of such has become more happenstance. Add to that the fact that the local scene has come to dictate music on a national level and the contests to grab a stage slot at one of the city's high profile festivals is as high as ever. It's with that in mind that a bit of controversy broke out last week when it was announced that Ric Wilson, who topped all participants in REACT's 'Toast of the Coast' contest with the most votes to play at North Coast, which enters it's seventh year in Union Park September 2-4, would not be one of the final contestants.
Artists from across the city reacted to the decision by REACT Presents organizers to not include local rapper Ric Wilson as one of eight finalists for the distinction despite earning the most votes through the fan voting portion of the contest. Among those to make their feelings felt on the 'net were Jamila Woods, Kevin Coval and GLC who begged the question as to why the artist with the most votes was not chosen to compete for the final spot. For their part, organizers pointed to contest rules which were posted on the Facebook Event page stating that they would choose eight acts (four artists, four DJs) of the top 25 vote earners. Following the public outcry over the perceived injustice though, REACT caved, issuing a statement on social media platforms announcing Wilson as a finalist.
In their statement, REACT said: "We'd like to respond to Ric Wilson's fans in regards to him not being chosen as a finalist. The rules of the contest state we choose 8 finalists out of the top 25 vote-getters. This was stated on the first page of the contest. The #1 vote-getter does not automatically move on as a finalist. We choose 4 DJs and 4 Live acts. Out of the 4 live acts, we try to pick a hip hop artist, a rock artist, an electronic artist, etc; artists from different genres and cultures. North Coast is proud to have a 7 year history of booking diverse artists which is evident in past years lineups. We have been looking into Ric Wilsons music and have become fans of his art. So due to overwhelming support for Ric Wilson, and in an effort to have a diverse lineup of finalists, we are thrilled to announce we have added Ric Wilson to the finalists for the Battle Royale."
With that behind him, Wilson now turns his sights to the next leg of his journey to North Coast; the Toast of the Coast Battle Royale tomorrow night at The Chop Shop. The four finalists and DJs will face off against one another for 15 minutes apiece to try and grab the final spot on the festival lineup. Contestants will be judged by "their fit for North Coast, live performance and crowd cheers and response." It's also free if you're over seventeen and kicks off at about 7 PM. get the full details on the event itself via our calendar, here.