My first time attending, ONE Musicfest is an experience I will likely not soon forget. The organizers succeeded expectations in creating a progressive 2-day festival hosting some of the biggest acts in hip-hop, soul, house music and funk to name a few. I had never attended an event in Central Park and was excited to see how the venue was laid out. Up on the hill, the Ford Stage hosted delicious acts like singer H.E.R., rapper Goldlink and DJ Afro Soca Love. Down below at the Central Park Stage, Big Sean, Nas and basically every Atlanta rapper except Jeezy (yes, those were shots fired, what happened to him? He was on the lineup and disappeared into thin air.) Local DJs like Kemit and Salah Ananse had everyone bouncing to groovy house at the Smokin Shells DJ stage nestled in the corner of vendors and food trucks (likely the one negative was the food lines on Saturday were super long).
One of the biggest highlights on Day 1 when was Big Tigger from BET’s “Rap City: Tha Basement” showed up to get on the mic while DJ Trauma was getting the crowd hyped for Nas. It was a moment that definitely made me flashback to high school and I feel like now the ‘80s babies are on top, but only for a little bit longer being that we’re the first decade of folks artists ask “where we are” from the stage, but it’s clear the ‘90s babies are coming in masses since their screams drown ours out shortly afterward. Speaking of ‘80s babies, and likely to the ‘70s and ‘60s babies too, by the time Nas did hit the stage around 9:30 on Saturday the crowd was anything but hype. I think everyone was having a great time, but you could tell in the back of everyone’s heads they were thinking, “It’s late, my back hurts, I’m tired, etc” when you could barely hear anyone singing “Can you hate me now?” from “Hate Me Now", off of Nas’ I am…. album from the late ‘90s. It kind of made me chuckle thinking about getting older and going to shows as this was the first full festival I covered all summer and was feeling the exact same way!
Day 1 also kicked off our all female social media takeover by Aina Brei’yon and DJ Rasyrious. We were able to catch an interview with Aina on IG, you can listen to the audio here and watch our live Facebook interview with DJ Rasyrious here or listen to the audio here.
One of the biggest crowds on Saturday was for the extremely talented and beautiful singer, H.E.R.. Admittedly, I had not listed to her music prior to the festival and despite the intense heat, she packed out the Ford Stage. It took us almost ten minutes to push through it to make it in time to shoot another artist. The people in crowd were super chill, everyone singing along to the lyrics, kicking it on their blankets and genuinely enjoying each other’s company.
Aside from H.E.R., another artist I had heard of but not yet had the pleasure of seeing live was Goldlink who performed on the Ford Stage as well. I love a little comedy in a performance and at one point he stopped to address the crowd saying, “Man, it’s hot as shit.” Everyone died laughing because it really was hot as shit. He rocked it out under those lights back and forth from the sides of the stage and in long pants and a long sleeved shirt.
As someone who was born in New York and has lived in Atlanta since I was 10-years-old, I felt both states were equally represented throughout the weekend. In all serious, I think mad people have moved here from New York so that makes it easy but there were some folks from the mid-west and other parts of the country as well which shows the pull of the festival to people not just in the south.
However, the south reigned king at ONE Musicfest on Sunday for a full day of Atlanta hip-hop starting with the ATL Crunk Set featuring Youngbloodz, Trillville, the Eastside Boyz, Ying-Yang Twins and Kilo Ali. Everybody sang every word to “Love in Your Mouth" and bounced around to “Damn.” Following that fresh start to the afternoon Big Boi took over the Ford Stage which we were not able to see the set for but I’m sure everyone over there was cooling it like a polar bear’s toenails.
We opted out of Miguel and Big Boi to conduct our interviews (coming next week!) and waited for T.I. to make his appearance on the Central Park stage, he ended up bringing his entire family on stage with him, including a brand new baby! To finish the night in TRU ATL style, 2 Chainz lit up the Central Park stage and the entire park joined in to watch Tity Boi perform old tracks like “Duffle Bag Boy” where he shouted out his recent best man, Lil Wayne for letting him get a verse on the track with Playaz Circle and saying he owes his career to that moment.
The all female social takeover went off with a bang with Angelina Sherie who we interviewed live in IG and Ree de la Vega who took over the Snapchat, thanks to everyone who participated throughout the weekend. One last note, the crowd was super chill all weekend, I only saw a few people getting sick likely from the heat, and I wouldn’t say I owe that all to the age brackets of the audience but I have a feeling that may have had something to do with it. Vibes on point, food and vendors on point, music on point, would 10/10 recommend ONE Musicfest!
Photos by Raul Peña and Liz Peña and edited by Mac “Soon'“ Kweon.