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Janet Jackson Proves Legends Do It Better At Panorama Festival 2018

We stan a legend who can start on time and provide the hits.

“It’s a lot of hits, right?” said Janet Jackson after back-to-back melodies on the main stage of the Panorama Music Festival Saturday (July 28). As the first headliner for the down-on-its-luck festival (the first day was cut short due to disastrous thunder and lightning), Ms. Jackson beamed through the clouds as she taught festival performers how to really put on a show. Her hits span four decades with tunes from her classic albums Control, Rhythm Nation 1814, All For You, the underappreciated Damita Jo and many more.

We hadn’t hit the middle ground of Jackson’s set and I was already drowning in chart-topping singles. Mirroring her State of the World tour, Ms. Jackson pushed through her extensive catalog with songs that are just as old as those with their hands in the air. Before we dipped it low to funky jams like “Miss You Much,” “Control” and “Escapade,” the icon highlighted the ways of the world in the form of news snippets about race and political relations in the country.

As the names of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland and many more flashed over the stage screens, fans who donned vintage Janet tees had their fists raised in the air while aunties snapped photos of the stage. Between her proclamation were the painful facts about the rise of hate groups and school shootings in 2018. The state of the world is just as divisive as Janet’s early days, which was why she opened the show with “The Skin Game (Part 1),” a deep cut that explores the plights of the oppressed.

Janet Jackson | July 2018

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“We stan a legend who stars on time!” a friend of mine quipped as Janet jumped into “The Pleasure Principle.” The notion isn’t lost on me but my mind goes back to the 2001 HBO-televised All For You Tour where as a kid I assumed I would never see the singer in concert. Reality was enforced in the form of the love-soaked tune “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” as Janet joined her dancers in effortless choreography and pitch-perfect falsettos. The visual fest continued when the futuristic video to “Doesn’t Really Matter” played on the screen, as Jackson nailed the 18-year-old choreography on stage. As we floated to the second half of the show, fans were still grooving to Jackson’s masterful offering. There were awkward bits in between where some festival goers were unfamiliar with the lyrics to “All For You” and “Let’s Wait Awhile,” but the energy was high, allowing everyone to keep moving their feet.

As we toyed with sensual singles like “Anytime, Anyplace,” her collaborative Busta Rhymes tune “What’s It Gonna Be” and the J. Cole-assisted “No Sleeep,” we were met with a sleek outfit change by Jackson. Things got sentimental towards the end of the show as she performed “Scream” with the video playing behind the band. “I miss you– both of you,” she said after singing “Together Again” in honor of MJ and her father Joe Jackson.

“It’s a lot of hits, huh?” - @janetjackson #thenidied #AmexLife #coolcoolcool

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“Yo, we’re watching Michael Jackson’s sister perform right now,” another friend of mine said earlier in the evening. As fate would have it, Janet stopped the show and looked off into the crowd with a queen-like gaze. It’s something only she and her brother can pull off–waves of applause and cheers for a matter of minutes. The blood moon was in our peripheral vision making the moment more meaningful by the second.

Festival performers have changed over the years (Arcade Fire was the Panorama headliner in 2016, Nine Inch Nails in 2017 along with Solange and Frank Ocean) but the thought of a legacy R&B-pop act like Jackson ruling the stage might’ve seemed too niche for some. Her set proved to be the opposite as the power of soul and R&B music commanded everyone’s hearts and vocal chords.

We were not only mystified by her presence, but also her dedication to her craft. In between the festival fumbles (like the delayed cancellation notice of Lil Wayne’s set) this moment seemed to be destined. The living legend did more than put on a show; she continued to inspire the next generation of what’s come in R&B, pop and beyond. Jackson, as always, was well worth the wait.

Thank u #NYC. 💜 @panoramanyc was amazing. #SOTW #sotwkids

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Solange Uses Her Divine Spirit To Calm The Mind And Body For "Bridge-s" Performance Piece

There's a serene feeling over the bodies standing in the iconic architecture at the Getty Center Museum. Jazzy horns, peaceful keys, and crisp guitar riffs gently interrupt the soothing silence as dancers dripped in marigold threads swayed to "Counting," a composition created by Solange. A series of odd numbers like "5", "7" and "9" are recited on a loop by half of her dancers while the others chant "6", "4" and "2." It's just a preview of her latest creation Bridge-s but felt like a dynamic meditation.

Bridge-s brings yet another magnetic piece into her series of interdisciplinary works that spawned after the release of her magnum opus, A Seat At The Table. The world was introduced to Solange's artistic side thanks to performance art pieces at the Guggenheim in New York and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Composed by Solange and choreographed by Gerard & Kelly, Bridge-s was created with the pillars, beams, and columns around the museum in mind. Dancers and the orchestra used the space to their advantage, with tuba players catching the peripheral of attendees from afar.

Four rollouts will take place November 16-17, curated with a selection of films that include Black to Techno by Jenn Nkiru, AFRONAUTS and Boneshaker by Nuotama Bodomo, The State of Things by singer-songwriter Kish Robinson (Kilo Kish) and more. In its entirety, Bridge-s was designed to explore "transitions through time."

This was felt throughout the performance piece as dancers move with the intent of love, internal struggle, and unity. In a stunning zine designed by Sablā Stays, Gerard & Kelly shared the emphasis behind their modernist and inclusive approach.

"Our work, like hers, is part of an interdisciplinary effort throughout the arts and humanities to redefine modernism by critically engaging its prevailing narratives. By accounting for differences of gender, sexuality, and race. By focusing on intimate and collective histories. By centering our work around the body, dance and movement," they said.

Solange also opened up about the importance the museum and the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg played in the performance piece. "Both Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and the Getty Museum have sure strong distinctive voices spatially, and so the intention is that all of the work, the movement, the language, the songs all align with those principles," she said. "Working with Gerard and Kelly, who share many of the same philosophies on their approach to interpreting time and space through performance has really built the foundation [for] the spirit of this collaboration."

Like the rest of us, the artist watched closely the dancers glide across the floor, while bandmembers release enchanting sonnets with vocalists dropping a few high notes in between. Guests like Thundercat (and his Pikachu backpack), Kilo Kish, Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and Tyler, The Creator were also left speechless after the performance.

“I just want to thank you guys for allowing me the space to evolve, experiment and express new frontiers,” Solange said to the crowd after the assembly provided endless cheers.

Learn more about Bridge-s and get free tickets here.

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Scott Legato

Rick Ross' ‘Port Of Miami 2 Tour' Is Motivation To Hustlers Far And Wide

“I can spot a millionaire—from the guy working at the carwash,” Rick Ross said to a sold-out crowd at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre on his “Port of Miami 2 Tour.” “He got the rag hanging out of his pocket, to the way he rock his [pants]. I see the millionaire in him,” Rozay continued.

For nearly two hours on Tuesday (Oct. 15), the MMG bawse galvanized the hustler’s spirit, thanks to the preciseness of words used to explain his “came from the bottom” narrative combined with first hand accounts of the imperative mental spaces that dope boys experience.

But before Rozay graced the stage at the Gramercy Theatre, MMG’s baby boomer Yowda entertained the crowd for a brief set before passing the mic to lifelong MMG soldier Gunplay.

Rocking a black Dickies outfit, the Triple C member, who has been vocal about his cocaine addiction, stormed the stage with coke-like energy while mouthing lyrics to his sobering verse from “The Great Americans,” a song from MMG’s Self Made, Vol. 3.

Gunplay, who was actually born in the Bronx, nimbly bounced across the stage like a point-guard maneuvering through defense closed out his set with his under-the-radar street classics “Blood on the Dope,” “Bible on the Dash,” and his verse from Waka Flacka’s “Rolling.”

With marijuana smoke clouding the venue, liquor relaxing some concert-goers, and the clock inching toward 9:15 p.m., Rozay slowly walked toward the center of the stage—indirectly egging on the standing ovation by confidently nodding his head. Lex Luger’s “B.M.F.” instrumental blasted from the speakers for what seemed like minutes before the Dade County native dived into his verses.

The motivational concert commenced with the words: “I think I’m Big Meech, Larry Hoover,” here Ross is claiming his declaration to be financially independent---probably his No. 1 goal in life.

Less than two minutes into the start of Rozay’s set, The L.O.X.’s Styles P surprised the crowd by appearing onstage to deliver his verse from “B.M.F,” which was followed by ”Good Times (I Get High).” Surprises continued when Jadakiss appeared on stage to help his partner-in-rhyme run through their classic, “We Gonna Make It.”

 

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Elite Mc’ing last night with @richforever . #Dblock #Lox #NYC

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After working up a sweat, a slimmer-looking Ross shedded his beige designer trench jacket. Dressed in all white—like the cocaine money that he raps about—with shining jewels wrapped around his neck and wrists, Ross played the visual representation of success to kids from every coast.

Ross proceeded the show with his get-money classics like “I’m Not a Star,” where when he rapped: “Nine for the slice, dummy that’s a Dan Marino/Talking quarterbacks, meaning talking quarter kilos,” concert-goers enthusiasm seemed to max-out as they rapped with words with Ross.

After performing a list of favorites like “Aston Martin Music” and “Hustlin’,” the Box Chevy anthem that set the rapper’s career in motion, and “Where My Money (I Need That),” Rozay surprised New Yorkers by inviting Brooklyn native Fabolous onstage.

The Young OG entertained the Gramercy with hits like “Breathe” and “Cuffin Season” before closing his set with his verse from Meek Mill’s “Uptown.”

As the night grew to a close, Ross decided to remind fans that it’s totally fine for hustlers to shed tears. With that, the 43-year-old delivered his masterful verse from Kanye West’s “Devil in a New Dress.”

The place erupted with emotion with lines like “Whole clique appetite had tapeworms/Spinning Teddy Pendergrass vinyl as my J burns/I shed a tear before the night’s over.”

 

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Elite Mc’ing last night with @richforever . #Dblock #Lox #NYC

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Tears continued to fall as Ross ran through the CeeLo Green-assisted “Tears of Joy,” a woeful hip-hop ballad that shows the imperativeness—from a dope boys POV—of financial freedom.

Overall, Rozay’s performance is not filled with animation and routines. His stage presence isn’t as strong as fellow hustler-turned-rappers Jay-Z and Pusha T. However, Ross’ words of encouragement are powerful tools that incites the “give me liberty or death” mentality that birthed the hustlers spirit of America, and birthed America.

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Kadeem Cobham

A$AP Rocky Returns To New York, Brings Out 50 Cent And Swae Lee At Rolling Loud

A$AP Rocky is late. At any other rap show, this would annoy people who waited hours standing in cramped spaces to see their favorite artist perform. At Citi Field in Queens – the home of the first edition of Rolling Loud in New York, a two-day hip-hop festival held this past weekend (Oct. 12-13) – it becomes a game time decision on how you want to end your night. As flocks of attendees made their way to the Fashion Nova Stage, you can already hear Lil Uzi Vert performing at the nearby Dryp Stage. Rocky fans who secured a spot at the guard rails next to me kept looking back, maybe contemplating giving up their position to rage with Lil Uzi. Wisely, they stay.

About 10 minutes have gone by since Rocky’s scheduled 9:00 p.m. performance, and it's starting to feel like this is all on purpose, to build a dramatic opening for the Babushka Boi, who finally returns home after a highly-publicized stint in a Swedish jail for allegedly attacking two men outside of a hamburger restaurant in central Stockholm over the summer.

Suddenly, without warning, someone screams “yeahhhh!” in the mic. That same person wearing a red puffy coat runs through center stage, screaming “yeahhhh!” again before returning to the main stage. Backed by a sizeable group wearing white Testing-esque ski masks, the wait is over. Get ready to mosh because Rocky is here.

 

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Thank you for a great close to night two Flacko! @asaprocky 🎥 @evanhammerman

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For New Yorkers, A$AP Rocky has created plenty of hometown moments in his rap career. Depending on your age, you were probably there when he and the A$AP Mob invaded Santos Party House in 2011 to do a defiant performance of “Pesos.” Or in 2012 when he brought his Long. Live. A$AP Tour to Roseland Ballroom with some help from his good friends ScHoolboy Q and Danny Brown. The inaugural Yams Day, initially held at Terminal 5 in 2016, has become an institution for the Harlem crew, promising a lifetime of homages to the late A$AP Yams by holding one every year, to increasingly bigger crowds and venues.

Rocky at Rolling Loud wasn’t just another Rocky show. It had more significance. Technically, Rocky already had his big U.S. comeback when he hit the stage at Real Street Festival in Anaheim, California on Aug. 11, telling the crowd, “I just want to say what I experienced was so crazy. I'm so happy to be here right now. That was a scary, humbling experience but I'm here right now. God is good.” He was later found guilty by a Swedish court but avoided further jail time.

No, this was different because Rocky came back to where it all began. The imagery of Testing, his latest album released in May of last year, was in full effect – the crash test dummies aesthetic, the smiley faces, the vehicles hanging on the rafters like ceiling fans. After sending his squad to stage dive, Rocky took off the fall appropriate outerwear, dressed in a Rick Owens long sleeve and all-white mid Uptowns, to keep the party going. “Praise the Lord,” “Telephone Calls,” and “Babushka Boi” already had this crowd wanting more turn up.

Rocky was in the zone. He took to the skies, standing on the hood of one of his suspended cars to rap “Gunz N Butter” and “OG Beeper.” As it lowered to the ground, he followed with a freestyle filled with that Pretty Flacko talk: “Look at me, get what you see, envision me/Brazen chains, is he Pusha-T or Mr. T?”

“We in fucking New York City right now,” he said after. “This is the home of the A$AP Mob, are you shitting me?”

Our first special guest: A$AP Ferg.

The pair have one of the best chemistries in hip-hop, shown in their buddy-buddy attitude and how seamlessly they work off one another. No matter how many times you’ve heard “Plain Jane” and “Work,” the songs still go off. When these come on, New York definitely doesn’t know how to be quiet.

“Ferg, you crazy if you think I’ma let you leave. You’re crazy,” Rocky said.

“Welcome home, Flacko!” Ferg replied, continuing with “Floor Seats.”

Ferg gave a special shout to day-one fans who have been with the Mob since their early singles, listing “Peso,” “Purple Swag,” “Get High,” and “Shabba.” Later, after Rocky brought out AWGE affiliates Smooky Margielaa and G4 Boyz, he playfully nodded to having no type after showing off his collection of bras he got from women who threw theirs on stage earlier. It was a tongue-in-cheek lead-in to the second major guest, Swae Lee, who performed “No Type” to the surprise of many. Rocky, who continued to hold his bras with delicate care, likened tonight’s show as a hip-hop Woodstock and he, the rock star.

“I don’t know about y’all, but when it comes to this New York City shit, this shit shaped and changed my whole fucking life,” he said, explaining how much he respects the OGs that came before him.

Born and raised in Harlem, Rocky started off with The Diplomats’ “Dipset Anthem,” with Juelz Santana’s verse causing a ruckus. Rocky wanted to move on to play more legendary New York classics, but his DJ, Lou Banga, threw off the vibe by accidentally playing songs by Bobby Shmurda and Pop Smoke. Modern classics, sure, but Rocky emphasized “legendary New York shit” from Queens.

Our third and final special guest: 50 Cent.

 

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First year in New York was legendary. @asaprocky @50cent

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Fif came out to “What Up Gangsta” with Rocky as his hypeman, rapping lines from the song like he was a youth again. It was two generations from two different boroughs reuniting in Queens, where 50 is actually from. Despite hiccups by the NYPD with preemptive cancellations of performances by Pop Smoke, Casanova, 22Gz, Sheff G and Don Q, this was a positive moment for the city and showed two rap eras can coexist. No rap beefs, no violence. Just good energy to help put the city on the map.

Fif stuck around to run through more hits such as “I Get Money” and “Big Rich Town,” but not after asking the audience if they watched Power. Clever promotion from hip-hop’s savvy businessman.

While the show was supposed to end at 10 p.m., Rocky was down to get lit until past curfew. He called on the A$AP Mob for a brief moment of silence for Yams before getting into “Yamborghini High.” Ferg, A$AP Illz, A$AP Twelvyy, and A$AP Nast all appeared to show love to Eastside Stevie.

“My n***a was a New York vet and at the end of the day, his whole vibe was just making sure everybody ate,” Rocky said. “Yams was a good-hearted n***a, trying to put n***as on…He was a good one. We lost a real one.”

The tribute only made the Mob’s performance of “Yamborghini High” that much more meaningful. Rocky and his crew could’ve left Rolling Loud fans with that. But they had one more thing in store, even after the fireworks went off and lights in the parking lot went on.

Tariq Cherif, one of the co-founders of Rolling Loud, presented Rocky with a Rolling Loud chain. After Sunday’s lineup featuring stars like A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Lil Tecca, and Young Thug, to give Rocky a chaining day in New York is how you end on a high note. His last song, “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2,” and it's opening lyrics couldn’t have been more perfect.

“Who the jiggy nigga with the gold links?”

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