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Pitchfork Music Festival Day Two: Kelela, Raphael Saadiq, And Moses Sumney Save A Dreary Day

The on-again-off-again rain tried to wash away the vibes, but a few Pitchfork performers kept the good energy.

Day two of the 2018 Pitchfork Music Festival lacked a certain umph, excitement and urgency. A few words that come to mind when describing the day would be “boring”, “delays”, and “wacky a** weather.” Although one shouldn’t hold the elements against them as festival officials provided ponchos for attendees.

The lackluster energy of the second day was brought on by the imbalanced diversity of genres. Saturday (July 21) was lead heavily by alternative pop, folk, soul, and rock acts and many of them, while talented lacked the stage presence to move the crowd. One could argue day two seemed to be the least stacked musical roaster compared to day one, and forthcoming day three. These factors along with random weather changes and set delays made day two, for a lack of better phrasing, kind of sucky.

Things weren’t all bad though as there were still some litty performances from the lone rapper of the day, Berhana, along with Zola Jesus, Blood Orange, and Circuit des Yeux. However, it was the amazing sets of the legendary Raphael Saadiq, Kelela, and the rising star Mosey Sumney who saved the day.

Moses Sumney Becomes the Proverbial “Black Moses” And Captivates Attendees Like They're His Flock

Draped in all black choir-esque fit, Los Angeles indie artist Moses Sumney captivated fans as if he was the literal Moses himself. Singing from behind a uniquely shaped black and gold podium, fans watched him turn his voice and the mic into unorthodox musical instruments with different pitches and with great results.

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5:17pm Moses Sumney #P4kFest

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With a bold blend of rock, folk, traditional R&B, Neo-Soul and funk, Sumney captivated fans as he delivered alluring performances of “Make Out In My Car”, “Plastic” from the Insecure Season One soundtrack, “Quarrel” and “Don’t Bother Calling.” With a standout set, it highly likely earned some new fans.

The Awe-Inspiring Moment: Sumber proved his musical Moses genes as he walked across the ramp between the barricades while performing, mimicking Moses parting the Red Sea. The moment continued as Sumney made contact with a fan and passionately sang to her.

Raphael Saadiq Brings Booming Stage Performance While Previewing New Album

Although it doesn’t rain much in Southern California, it certainly dripped on and off in hot and muggy Chicago. Luckily, it wasn’t enough disrupt Raphael Saadiq’s groover or set as it was the best one of the day.

After kicking things off with a lengthy jam session, Mr. Instant Vintage brought the funk, performing solo bangers like “Still Ray”, “Good Man” and “Go to Hell.” Saadiq energized the crowd when he brought out A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad for a brief appearance. The duo payed homage to their The Ummah days and honored J. Dilla by performing one of the late producer’s remixes. The 52-year-old musician did it all while a visual artist was behind him painting a beautiful Afrocentric black-and-white mural.

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5:35pm Raphael Saadiq #P4kFest

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It didn’t take long for him to get into his classics as he generously went through songs like “You Should Be Here” (sans D’Angelo), Lucy Pearl’s “Dance Tonight”, and the lone Tony! Toni! Tone! cut he performed, “Anniversary”. He also took a moment to perform a yet-to-be-released song from his forthcoming album (which does not have a set release date) "Jimmy Lee," the title track inspired by the memory of his late brother who passed away from a drug overdose.

He wrapped things up by going through a medley of tracks he written a variety of artists such as D’Angelo’s “How Does It Feel”  Erykah Badu’s “Love Of My Life”, and Solange’s (who headline last year’s festival) “Cranes In The Sky.”

The Awkward Moment: As Saadiq's performed Solange’s 2017 hit “Cranes in The Sky”, it proved to be cringeworthy moment, but not because of him, but because fans simply didn’t know the words. Being the master of the stage he is, the producer did the best he could to carry fans to the home stretch by having them sing funnier (and more fitting) version, dedicated to smoking some good “loud” (“I tried to smoke it awaaaayyyyyyy/I tried to blow one in the aiiiiirrrrr.”) Good times, folks.

Despite the Shortened Set, Fans Couldn’t Get Enough of Kelela’s Second Pitchfork Appearance

Kelela returned for the second time since the 2014 Pitchfork Music Festival as a much bigger act and it shows.

Even though the set started a bit late, Kelela didn’t waste any time dominating the stage with background dancers and DJ in tow. And to say that fans were ecstatic to see her is an understatement as they explodes when she opened to her smash “LMK”.

As the multi colored lights filled the stage, Kelela’s sultry, yet electrifying energy made for a spellbinding performance as she performed other sensual bops between her latest work, "Take Me Apart "and Hallucinogen like “Rewind”, “Frontline.”

Although she was well received and had one of the most fun and outright dazzling sets of the day, it would have been much better and felt more rewarding if she had more time as fans loudly clamored for an encore.

The Disappointing Part: While Kelela had one of the best sets of the evening, it was cut short due to the late start. Oddly enough, her set felt as if it went by quickly (but not rushed, thankfully). And even though fans loudly asked for an encore, our hope was shut down instantly when the mics were taken away.

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Cardi B And City Girls Close Out The BET Experience With Black Girl Rap Magic

Hip-hop is the nation’s most popular genre, from underground house parties in New York, where rappers and MCs would display their capabilities through a devilish delivery, worthy of snatching the breath from your body. Over the past thirty years, rappers have ascended into modern-day rock stars; sold out stadium tours, overt interactions with the law, and for City Girls and Cardi B; the assimilation of popular phrases like, “Okurrr”, and “Periodt” into America’s vernacular.

Their cultural influence was felt among concertgoers on Saturday (June 22) at Staples  Center for BET Experience as fans armies like the Bardi Gang and City Girls transformed the venue into an old school kickback, as they went word for word with their favorite rappers.

Snatched waists, icy gold chains, furs, and the occasional twerk from a group of aunties, (they turned BET Experience into a millennial’s version of Girls Trip); featured fashions from the night resembled one of Cardi’s promotional shots for her Fashion Nova campaign. The diverse composition of fans provided evidence about Cardi and City Girls longevity in hip hop, despite claims about the womxn rappers only be worthy of “15 minutes of fame.”

“Hit 'em with that wet wet, I put a ring on it for a check check,” Yung Miami started her twenty-minute set with a live performance of “Soakin Wet “with Atlanta-based rapper Marlo, as fans witnessed the City Girl demanded the stage, twelve days after her pregnancy announcement. Followed by a live performance of “Throw Fits,” a Bounce-inspired summer anthem with G-Eazy, who performed his verse alongside Miami, and gave her a hug, an acknowledgment from the Oakland rapper, who exited the stage, as murmurs of “Act Up” quietly thumped in the background. “Shout out my bad b***hes in b***h! Who got two phones; one for their suga daddy, and one for they shoota. Free JT, QC until I die,”

Miami’s closing statements as she transitioned into the set’s closer, “Act Up.” Decked in a blue satin crop top, and high waisted tiger pants, Miami squashed rumors about her inability to rock the City Girls brand as an expecting mother with a “PERIODT,” and prepped the audience to secure their frontals for Cardi B’s headlining performance.

“I waited my whole life just to s**t on ni***s. Climbed to the top floor so I can spit on ni***s”, the Grammy award-winning rapper proclaimed her seat as one of the hardest working professionals in the game, among a packed stadium, and started her sixty minute set, with a South Bronx energy, that backed her up claims as “King of New York.” From pouring water on herself during “PRESS”, jumping on top of the stage’s speakers for “Money”, and an intermixed medley of throwing ass, twerking, and grinding on stage; her utilization of the stage is reflective of Cardi’s beginnings as a dancer, because every eye in the Staples Center were fixated on the rhythmic movements of Cardi on stage.

“This is for all the bad b***hes in the building. I did it for the bad b***hes, and you ugly a** b***hes too,” as she performed verses from charting singles, such as “No Limit,” “She Bad,” “Money Bag,” “Motorsport,” and “Thotiana.” A solo performance, Cardi’s presence engulfed the arena, and went non-stop in calling out haters in “Wish Wish.”

The self-described “ brightest motherfuckin star,” backed it up with, “All of that talk and I'm calling it out, Public opinions from private accounts, You not a check, then you gotta bounce” from "Clout," her collab with hubby Offset. 

Mixed throughout the set are essential comedic moments from the rapper, such as a little dance to her repeating “I ain’t going to jail. F**k you mean. I ain’t going to jail” after being charged with 14 counts, dancing like an auntie at the cookout to "Finesse," and camp-inspired moments of fake tears to emotional standbys, "Ring" and "Be Careful." The Cardi B experience closed with "Bodak Yellow," the second song to top Billboard Hot 100 since Ms. Lauryn Hill, is a Cinderella ending to Cardi’s show, a living testament to the rapper’s growth and development in the game, since its release date, two years ago.

In the beginning, music industry executives categorized hip hop as a short-lived phenomenon that scheduled to fade away as its content was too explicit and lacked the range to establish fan bases outside of the boroughs of New York. Similar to Cardi and Yung Miami, hip hop’s 15 minutes of fame will never be up, and thirty years in the future, attendees will still be playing the female rapper’s discographies at family cookouts, a testimony to Cardi and City Girls’ longevity.

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Jennifer Lopez performs onstage for herIt's My Party Tour at The Forum on June 07, 2019 in Inglewood, California.
Rich Fury

Jennifer Lopez Throws Her Own Extravagant Birthday Bash For The ‘It’s My Party’ Tour

Two decades ago, Jennifer Lopez made her official foray into music with her debut album On The 6. After heightened success as the star in the 1997 biopic Selena, she released the album — an amalgamation of chart-friendly pop mixed with dance floor-ready R&B and Latin soul — on June 1, 1999. Its title and sonic influences were nods to her roots, specifically the 6 train which runs from her native Bronx to other parts of New York City. On the second night of her sold-out stint at Los Angeles’ The Forum (June 8), the triple threat not only celebrated twenty years of infectious earworms with a two-and-a-half-hour set but hosted a lavish birthday celebration as proof of how far Jenny from the block has come.

A montage of J.Lo’s iconic career opened the show, depicting the former Fly Girl from In Living Color reminiscing on her milestones from humble beginnings to motherhood. “I was just a dancer from New York and I was trying to make it,” she said in the video. That hustle manifested into superstardom as she pumped out albums, tours, movies, fashion and beauty franchises that have kept her brand — and cash flow — from going stagnant.

As a summer-long pregame for her real-life birthday, Lopez set the Party off with a decadent Moët & Chandon champagne bottle parade and 20 dancers in tow (including finalists from her dance show World of Dance, Swing Latino, season two winners The Lab and dancer Briar Nolet). “Everyone’s a VIP member,” her DJ proclaimed as Lopez proceeded to host an extravaganza that could only be described as balling with no budget. With roughly eight wardrobe changes, cinematic vignettes that provided opportune moments to switch ‘fits, elaborate sets, and enough confetti showers to rival New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve, Lopez made every attendee feel like it was his or her life’s anniversary, too.

For those still hung up on the 2000s, J.Lo catered to the day-ones with updated versions of her early hits. Her inaugural hit “If You Had My Love” set the mood for a burlesque performance that included a sultry lap dance from her and two dancers for a lucky male audience member. She also worked a hefty, black chaise chair with a steamy striptease that quenched the thirst of anyone at the show without a beverage. This later transitioned into a candlelit performance of Drake’s Scorpion slow jam “Teenage Fever,” which sampled the 1999 song and perhaps, served as a gratuitous thank you to the 6 God for showing love. “Waiting For Tonight” ditched the green laser aesthetic from the iconic video for a more vibrant, Pride Month-friendly set-up as Lopez slipped into a lime green catsuit and her dancers vogued ball-style in neon colored outfits that exposed their taut bods.

Never shying away from her hip-hop swag, several numbers saluted her rap ties like the J.Lo and Ja Rule collaborations “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny” triggered instant nostalgia of Juicy Couture velour suits and dog days at the local park. The LOX-assisted “Jenny From The Block” featured Lopez in a cheeky jumpsuit and shimmery New York fitted cap. She broke it down to French Montana’s “Shot Caller” and the song’s sampled classics: 20th Century Steel Band’s “Heaven and Hell is on Earth” and Boogie Down Productions’ “South Bronx.” More contemporary jams like the money-loving anthem “Dinero” (with featured guest and fellow Bronx boo, Cardi B, projected against a backdrop of a golden bank vault) the rump-shaker “Booty,” and a random but here-for-it dance performance to Blueface’s “Thotiana” also got the crowd hype.

Any J.Lo set would be remiss without an emotional segment that harps on her incessant campaign of positivity. After slipping on a voluminous red gown, Lopez slowed down the tempo to deliver a rendition of “Limitless” off the soundtrack for her 2018 rom-com Second Act mashed up with David Guetta and Sia’s powerhouse number “Titanium.” To tug at heartstrings even more, Lopez’s daughter Emme joined her mother onstage and flaunted her vocal chops in an impressive sing-off. The night’s leading lady also admitted that birthdays, especially big ones (she turns 50 in July), often prompt deep self-reflection.

 

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I can’t take it! #Emme #Limitless #ProudMama #JLoItsMyParty

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After covering one of her favorite songs “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles, Lopez launched into a mini-TED Talk on perseverance. “Even though [“Gravity” is] a love song, it’s about a struggle. Life is like that,” she said. “But somehow, we always find our way back to ourselves when we make it through its tough times. You get to a certain point in your life and people start asking you for advice. It’s like, ‘What have you learned? Give me some secrets. What do you wanna teach your children? What do you want them to know?’

“And I always say, I just want them to know they can do whatever they want to do or they can be whoever they want to be,” she continued. “Life gon’ be hard sometimes and they’re gonna fall down but they gon’ get right back up and mommy’s always gonna be right there.” She turned her attention to the fans, injecting them with the same can-do attitude. “In some of the toughest times I’ve had, when I have fallen down, you guys have helped me get right back up. I want everybody to know that because we’ve really been on this journey together, haven’t we?” she asked. “Something I’ve learned... It took a long time for me, maybe just this year, it really clicked in, is that you can really do whatever you want to do.”

With her toast-worthy speech a wrap, Lopez resumed her boogie-down bash, bringing the funk with “Hold It Don’t Drop It” before repping for all the Latinos in the house with a medley of her Spanish-language bops like her verse on Nio García, Darell and Casper Mágico’s 2017 smash “Te Bote” as well as the Bad Bunny duet “Te Guste.” While Lopez has since secured a diamond from her now-fiancee Alex Rodriguez, “El Anillo” still rang off (pun intended) in the arena.

After shaking what her momma gave her all night, Lopez brought a different type of cake for the finale. After burning what was probably several hundred calories during performances of the club bangers “Dance Again” and “On The Floor,” she returned in a nude bodysuit surrounded a flurry of showgirl feathers as the centerpiece of a three-tiered structure mirroring a wedding cake. It was a fitting encore for a 49-year-old woman who has spent her entire career chasing her passions, even if the risks yielded some type of personal loss or failure both in private and in the public eye. Being an entertainer who can pull off a soirée of this magnitude across the country (while juggling motherhood, an acting career, and other entrepreneurial endeavors) requires the type of confidence only afforded by those who know and trust themselves. As pyrotechnics lit up the stage and metallic streamers and oversized white balloons fell from the ceiling, one particular J.Lo one-liner from the night mirrored her life in that moment. “I’m from the Bronx and this is my party,” she said. “I can do what I want.”

It's My Party Tour Set List

Medicine Love Don’t Cost A Thing Get Right Dinero I’m Real (Remix) Ain’t It Funny (Remix) Jenny From The Block If You Had My Love Teenage Fever (Drake original) Girls Booty Gravity (Sara Bareilles original) Limitless Titanium (David Guetta featuring Sia original) Ain’t Your Mama All I Have Hold It Don’t Drop It Te Bote 2 (Nio García, Darell and Casper Mágico original) Te Guste The Ring (“El Anillo”) Waiting For Tonight Dance Again On The Floor Let’s Get Loud

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Ari Lennox Exudes Grown And Sexy Energy During NYC Shea Butter Baby Tour Stop

Summer hasn't arrived just yet in New York, but Ari Lennox provided plenty of heat during her stellar performance during her stop in New York for her Shea Butter Baby Tour.

The intimate yet lively cold-out set at Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday (June 5), had a little something for everyone. Her openers Baby Rose and Mikhala Jené provided lush performances with their style of R&B soul. Jené's "All I Want" and Rose's very rousing and classic vocals were beautiful discoveries. As natural babes and fellas filled up the venue, alluring blue-hued lights set the tone for the rest of the night.

The connection between the VIBE NEXT alum and the crowd was more than anyone could have hoped for. Stepping out in an all-black ensemble and signature high curly bun (with a very Diana Ross-like fur coat), Ari opened up with "Chicago Boy," which also happens to be the opener for her debut album, Shea Butter Baby. The setlist was a mix of the tracks from the project as well as her breakout EP, PHO. Fans were able to "bust it real fast" on Ari's command to tracks like "Broke," "Night Drive" and the sensual single, "Up Late." With trumpeter Theo Croker performing on "Chicago Boy," "Static" and "Whipped Cream," love and nayhoos were definitely in the kush-filled air.

Loosies like "40 Shades Of Choke" got their moment with Ari requesting everyone to say, "I will be consensually choked tonight and I will survive" before singing the track.

Ari's show was an embodiment of who she is and what her music represents–unapologetic with strong doses of grown and sexy appeal. Her stage was tailor-made for the D.C. native as well. First with the cheekily set up mannequins donning striking wigs behind her, and second with her own commentary throughout the duration of the show. At various points during the show, Ari and her packed audience maintained upbeat conversations.

A fan in the front row shared how the heartbreaking "La La La La" would be her future wedding song with the singer encouraging her by sending good vibes to her future hubby, dog and life.

There wasn't one low point during Ari's show, and it only got degrees hotter when she threw off her fur jacket, a statement piece in her video for "Up Late," and moved effortlessly to the beat of "Broke," her song featuring J.I.D. The Christo-created track got the crowd vibing, and the Bowery was quickly filled up with voices singing along to Ari's catchy lines, "I've been low before/Yeah you know I've been low before."

Hands were thrown into the air by girls sporting long, box braids and styled afros as they danced along to the song. Although J.I.D. didn't come out to perform their record together, the crowd was blessed with a surprise appearance from the brain behind Dreamville himself, J. Cole. With his now, trademark dreadlocks on display, Cole joined his signee onstage for a rendition of their hit "Shea Butter Baby."

The venue was already booming thanks to Ari, but with the two together onstage it may as well have exploded.

The image of Ari and Cole performing is one that can represent 2019 wholly; it's the year of Dreamville. While Cole may have been the icing on the cake for Ari's NY show, she was the entire slice and then some.

Tasting a piece of Ari's live shows is what everyone needs to feel as grown and as sexy and she does.

Check out more dates for The Shea Butter Baby Tour here.

 

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#PressPlay: #AriLennox brings out #JCole in New York for a 🔥performance of her track #SheaButterBaby 👶🏾

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