If you live in New Orleans, then you know the Essence Music Festival is, if not the largest, one of the largest festivals to hit the city. Tons of celebrities and tourists invaded my city this past Fourth of July weekend. Usually, I anticipate the Monday after (when everyone leaves) but this year was a little different — I joined in the fun! Well, not all of the fun, just fun that truly mattered: I was blessed to get my hands on floor tickets for each concert night. I. had. a. blast.
Friday Night: Janelle Monae. Nile Rodgers. PRINCE.
I was super excited about this night. Yes, Janelle is nice, and was excited for Nile Rodgers to bring the funk and play my jam, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” BUT I was super ecstatic to witness the man, the legend, the Prince. He gave us a few surprise pop ups during Janelle and Nile’s set, but when it was time for his show, he lit the stage up — literally. All of your faves, “Little Red Corvette,” “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain,” and more were shouted by fans from the bottom of the dome to the top. He broke my lil’ heart when I realized he wasn’t going to perform “Diamonds and Pearls,” “Darling Nikki,” “The Beautiful Ones,” and especially “I Would Die 4 U.” But I dealt with what was given because it was awesome. Now I can finally say I got to see Prince perform. *Scratches that off the list*
Ledisi. TEVIN CAMPBELL. The Roots. Jill Scott. Mary J. Blige
Listen. Even though I had tickets for all three nights, I honestly didn’t pay attention to who was on the bill all three nights. But I soon found out and wasn’t upset at all. Ledisi was on the main stage, Tevin Campbell was in one of the Super Lounges. It wasn’t rocket science for me to decide on who I wanted to see the most, so you best believe I was front and center, crooning with Little T. Man, oh, man.. Man!! Watching that boy on stage brought me all the way back to ’91 – ’96. To this day, I will NEVER get tired of listening to any of his songs. It’s been a minute since he’s been mainstream, but his performance definitely stamped that he’s ready for his comeback as he stated, “I may not be on the main stage tonight, but next year, look for me!” I missed the beginning of The Roots’ performance due to my flashback of “Can We Talk.” When I finally got to my seat, I literally was unable to sit down because The Roots brought out Common, Nelly, NAUGHTY BY NATURE (by this time, I experienced heart palpitations), and Biz Markie. Man, they truly reminded us what true hip-hop really is. I died!
Up next, Miss Jilly from Philly. During The Roots’ set, I was anticipating her gracing us alongside them, but… it was just a dream. She did her thing, tho and gave me exactly what I needed with “Crown Royal,” and the fave, “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat). Now before I get into the Queen, let me just say that sometimes I have blond moments where I don’t realize I love something so much until it’s in front of me, i.e., Miss MJB, y’all. So, I prepped myself for the lineup, knowing she was a part of it. But what I didn’t realize is that I’ve been rocking with MJ since the beginning of time, What’s the 411. Once she got on stage, my butt never touched the seat. She sang everything! All of her hits from ’92 to now. But, I felt some type of way when she never performed “Without You,” but that didn’t take away from anything. She showed up and showed the hell out. I loved how she first came out in all white, with sneakers while performing hits from What’s the 411. When it was time to get grown, she switched to stilettos. Yes ma’am! Two outfit changes, and she danced, too!
Sunday Night: TAMAR BRAXTON, Erykah Badu, Charlie Wilson, Lionel Richie
If ANYONE knows me, they can vouch for my love for Tamar. I have been a fan of ma’am since her ’98 single, “If You Don’t Wanna Love Me.” Even though her album Tamar is collecting dust in my cd case, it got a lot of play back in the day. So, you know I had to make it to the dome bright and early to witness her comeback. I was dead tired (and a tad hung over) from the night before, dancing all night to the sounds of DJs Questlove and Soul Sister at Tipitina’s in Uptown NOLA. And once again, I didn’t even think to look at the times of performances. I legit jumped out of bed at 6:15, dove in the bathtub, got dressed faster than I ever had and rushed to the dome, to be in my seat by 7pm. I actually made it at 7:08 — in just enough time to experience “Prettiest Girl,” “White Candle,” and her twerking while performing “Hot Sugar.” I lived!! Shortly, tho. She was only on stage for 30 minutes which felt like 5. But she proved that, that stage is where she belonged. Dave Chapelle “rose from the ashes,” onto the main stage to introduce his good friend, Miss Erykah. Side-note: I don’t know where he’s been all this time, but where ever he was, weights were definitely close by. He’s swole as hell! Ms. Badu came out, with her attitude (in a funny way). I never knew she was so funny, and I didn’t expect her to curse so much. Geez! But she was good, love her voice. She, too performed old and recent hits after testing her New Orleans fans with a very popular local, old school track, “I say trick, stop talkin’ that sh_t, and s__k a ni__a d__k for an outfit…” I wasn’t ready! In my opinion, it was too vulgar for the crowd. But in true, Mama Badu fashion, she didn’t give a shxt. I wasn’t at all surprised by Uncle Charlie’s performance, though he did take us to church during one segment, but the rest was the same act I witnessed earlier this year at Jazz Fest. Lastly, I’m sorry to inform you that I didn’t stay to witness sir Lionel Richie. I couldn’t do it! This year, I learned that attending EMF every night is a damn job. And working all three days? On Sunday, I had to clock out early. I really felt like I had missed out on something great — until I read on NOLA.com that me and thousands of others hit it on home. It would’ve been great to sway to “Easy Like Sunday Morning,” and dance to “All Night Long.” Ah, well.
All in all, I had THE time of the year at the 2014 Essence Fest. ‘Til next time…