The 2017 Broccoli City Festival kicked off as it has for the past three years — with rain showers pouring over Washington D.C. and brisk winds blowing through the Southeast venue. Nevertheless, concert goers trekked through the sinking mud in translucent ponchos and iridescent raincoats to see their favorite artists perform.
Since its conception in 2013, BC Fest has boasted impressive acts, including SZA at its inaugural show, to Future, Erykah Badu, and Jhene Aiko. But this isn’t just another show to add to festival season’s extensive roster. The event, which is the brainchild of Brandon McEachern, is apart of a larger initiative to bring “solutions” to the Washington area in regards to health, hunger, and environmental issues. BC was created as a platform for millennials to learn about Earth Day and adopting a clean lifestyle, but in recent years, its underlying goal to celebrate blackness, has come to the forefront. Especially with the current political climate as well as pop stars such as Miley Cyrus reducing hip hop culture to misogynistic lyrics, the need for more movements and events honoring black musicians, artists, and businesses has multiplied.
This year’s lineup was a superb group of rap and R&B acts, who not only celebrate their own blackness, but all the different forms of their audience’s identity as well. From Solange to Smino and more, here are all of the artists who payed tribute to the culture.
Sir The Baptist Takes Us To Church
Born a pastor’s kid, it seemed only natural for Sir the Baptist to incorporate spiritual practices into his act. As one of the very first performances of the day, the Chicago rapper decided to invite his audience to an early church service of sing alongs and rap gospels. The artist’s rhymes over soulful beats most definitely left fans feening for more, but it was his powerful vocals and charisma that drew many into the sermon. You didn’t have to grow up in a Baptist church to find comfort in his call and response tactics either.
Nick Grant Takes Pride In His Blackness
South Carolina artist, Nick Grant hit the Broccoli City main stage around mid-afternoon with an enthusiastic set. While he got the crowd riled up with uptempo and choppy beats, he managed to sneak in a number of important messages. One in particular came during his performance of “The Fire,” a smooth, R&B-infused track from his 2016 mixtape, ’88. “Like living in sadness we are young and we black / Adapting to equipment so no tactics so stop calling me n***a / Cause I take pride in my blackness this is the fire,” he rapped while pacing back and forth on the stage.
Smino Celebrates A Black Woman’s Worth
Smino loves black women. That idea was made clear following the release of his debut album, Blkswn, which listens sort of like an ode. As an extended tribute, Smino took the stage — crutches (he injured his foot during a previous concert), du-rag, and all — to deliver jazzy tracks from his latest project. With a strong sense of humor and an even stronger accent, the St. Louis native honored the strength, grace, and sexiness of a black woman during his performances of standout tracks like “Anita,” “Amphetamine,” and “Netflix & Dusse.”
Nao Dances To Her Own Beat
Nao’s soothing pitch will hypnotize you, but her dance moves will awaken you and compel you to sway along with her. The British songstress vibrated on a high frequency that her energetic fans just couldn’t deny. In a vibrantly patterned pants set, Nao twirled, popped, and bounced on the City Stage to the tunes of her electro-soul and funk tracks like “Girlfriend,” “Firefly,” and “Bad Blood.” Her carefree spirit most definitely embodied the #BlackGirlMagic movement.
Solange Invites You To Have A Seat At The Table
There’s nothing that Solange doesn’t think of when it comes to live performances. From her crew’s synchronized dance moves to the alluring color scheme, the singer-songwriter delivered a carefully planned set that also left viewers with a sense of confidence and joy. Solange whipped her curly locks to “Don’t Touch My Hair,” high kicked and shimmied to “Mad,” and initiated a sing along to “F.U.B.U.” Singing songs primarily from her No. 1 album, A Seat at the Table, Solange left a mark of empowerment on her sea of fans.