JMBLYA was held outdoors Friday at Fair Park and featured some of hip hop’s hottest acts in a single day festival format. From water slides to bounce houses to food vendors, the event was more than just a concert; it truly had the festival feel.
I arrived about 1230 p.m. and New Orleans rapper Pell was on stage. The crowd hadn’t completely filled in yet, but those that were in attendance showed him love. I took this time to get acquainted with the festival grounds and to visit all of the vendor booths, from 97.9 The Beat to VILLA to Whataburger (shout out to them for the free Whataburger coupon that took care of my dinner that night) to the lonely NTTA booth, which I’m sure some folks steered away from because of their unpaid tolls. The festival setup included food and alcohol options, a variety of activities, as well as more than enough porta potties, perhaps the only thing lacking was shade, as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. (Sun block saved my weekend.)
The concert stage ran relatively close to schedule, particularly early in the day. YFN Lucci rocked it and Snow Tha Product as well. I would later go on to interview Snow backstage between 6lack and Lil Uzi Vert’s sets. We talked about her views on the power a COSIGN plays in one’s career and more.
Young Dolph followed Snow Tha Product, and ran through more songs of his than I realized I knew, including “Preach” and the Yo Gotti diss record “Play Wit Yo Bitch.” 6lack (pronounced “Black,” as he insisted on stage that we remember) and Uzi Vert performed as the crowd continued to grow, but by about 5 p.m. when Migos came out, the attendance had swelled enough that standing in the crowd in front of the stage became somewhat challenging. There were so many people moving in and out of the mass of people, that the pushing and stepping on shoes was becoming irritating. But, it’s a concert, so it is to be expected. Many blunts and joints were lit during the Migos set, and almost the entire crowd at times was jumping up and down with the Atlanta trio.
EDM DJ Steve Aoki followed the Migos, and I had heard a rumor that he was known to throw cake into the crowd, which I later confirmed on Google. I wanted no parts of that, so I spent his set charging my phone back by the food area. I didn’t see him actually throw any cake, but later that evening, I did see a girl who appeared to have taken baked goods to the head, so I’ll put assume that this is still something he does. I was impressed however by his set and the people that he’s collaborated with. It was a who’s who of today’s hot hip hop acts.
As the sun began to set behind the Fair Park buildings, Gucci Mane took the stage. With his fiancé, Keyshia Ka’oir there on stage with him, presumably posting footage from the show on social media, Gucci ran through some of his hits and some of his more recognizable street records. He did stop the show to bring Migos back out to perform “Slippery” and then again to bring out Dolph for a second round of disrespect as he performed “Play Wit Yo Bitch” again. Gucci’s set ran about an hour and it was dark by the time he was done.
There was a longer break than the schedule had listed before Chance The Rapper came out for his headlining gig. This was a return to JMBLYA for Chance as he was on the 2014 iteration of the festival at Main Street Gardens. His stage was dark and many people were grabbing food and alcohol from the vendors when he appeared on stage and caused people to stop what they were doing and head back toward the crowd. While hobbled by a leg injury sustained playing basketball, his energy was still there, and briefly I forgot he wasn’t 100%. The injury did become a factor throughout his set though, as his show, while the highlight of the night, was shorter than expected. He did bring Migos and Gucci back out, and also Slim Jxmmi, but then returned to his performance, which ended not too long after. Being my first time seeing Chance, his was the set I most anticipated and the rest of the lineup assisted in that anticipation as their performances snowballed the energy toward the finale. While on paper Chance may not seem to fit in at a Migos, Dolph & Gucci concert ticket, in practice it was a great success.
JMBLYA headed to Austin the following day for the second of the two days of the festival. This was my first JMBLYA, but I’ve decided that it won’t be my last. (And I’ll be sure to bring sunblock again next year.)