Photo credit @ThePhotoManLife
The 22nd annual Essence Festival was certainly another one for the books. The Essence Festival celebrated once again with three days days of R&B & Hip Hop music, community events, and black culture between the Ernest N. Morial convention center and the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Essence Festival’s management revealed that there were more than 450,000 attendees this year!
Tink, Tweet, V. Bozeman, Mali Music, Nduduzo Makhathini, Daley, Phuzekhemisi, Lion Babe, Kelly Price, Digable Planets, Eric Bellinger, Skye Wanda, and The Internet held down the superlounge stages as Essence kicked off Friday night. Maxwell, Babyface, Avery Wilson, Faith Evans, and New Edition all rocked Friday’s main stage with their hits and impressive catalogs!
It’s safe to say the night belonged to Babyface, Maxwell, and New Edition. Babyface reminded R&B lovers that he has hits for days and that he is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. Babyface closed his set with a cover of his penned Boyz II Men hit “End Of The Road”. The song moved him so much that he ripped open his shirt and proceeded to run through the superdome crowd singing every note. His set also included hits he wrote for others as well as his own No. 1s! Babyface serenaded the crowd with “This Is For The Cool In You,” “Whip Appeal,” “Never Keeping Secrets, “Soon As I Get Home,” and more.
New Edition certainly put on a show that included shiny tuxedo jackets, original choreography as well as group hits, solo hits, and subgroup hits. NE performed “Candy Girl”, “Can You Stand The Rain,” “Mr. Telephone Man,” and many more hits. They even performed BBD’s “Poison” and “When Will I See You Smile Again”.
Maxwell brought down the house with his velvety soul and rich falsetto. Maxwell reminded R&B fans of how he once redefined contemporary soul music with neo soul and his debut album ‘Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite’. Maxwell had all in attendance singing along to his hits “Bad Habits”, “Fortunate”, “This Woman’s Work” “Lake By The Ocean”, “Ascension” and more.
On Saturday Doug E. Fresh, Jidenna, Lady Leshurr, Lalah Hathaway, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, St. Beauty, Tink, Judith Hill, and Shaggy held down the superlounges as Jeremih, Common, Estelle, Charlie Wilson, and Mariah Carey rocked the Essence Main Stage.
Common & Jeremih brought the Chicago Chitown flavor to New Orleans as Common debuted his new single “Love Star” & Jeremih performed his hits “Birthday Sex,” “Oui,” and “I Like”. Common’s set also included classics like “Testify,” “Go,” and “Love of My Life.” R&B Legend Charlie Wilson stole the show once again, as he moved and grooved with endless energy. He engaged the crowd with his live band and his non-stop dancing. Fans of all ages across the dome joined in singing his former band, The Gap Band’s, hit classics “Yearning For Your Love” and “Outstanding”. Uncle Charlie brought the crowd to the dance floor, the bedroom, and to church.
Supreme diva Mariah Carey was another artist to make their Essence Festival debut this year. Mimi reminded fans that she has hits on hits on hits as she performed hits like “Honey,” “Fantasy”, “Shake It Off”, “Emotions,” “It’s Like That”, and many more. Jermaine Dupri & Da Brat joined Mariah on stage to perform the So So Def remix of “Honey”.
Sunday the superlounges belonged to Beyonce’s duo Chloe & Halle, The Brand New Heavies, Cyril Neville, Dej Loaf, Kehlani, Leon Bridges, Little Simz, MC Lyte, New Breed Brass Band, Robert Glasper Experiment, and BJ The Chicago Kid. Sunday’s main stage headliners included Ciara, Andra Day, Kendrick Lamar, and Puff Daddy and The Family.
Ciara brought all of the dance moves to the Essence Festival main stage as she performed her hits “Goodies,” “1,2, Step,” “Promise,” “I Bet,” “Ride,” and more. Ciare even covered Ginuwine’s “Pony” and Prince’s “Adore.”
Kendrick Lamar certainly brought down the house for his second Essence Festival performance. K. Dot’s energy and delivery reminded fans of why he is one of the best emcees out! The Compton rapper performed “Swimming Pools,” “M.A.A.D City,” “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “Alright,” “Backseat Freestyle” and much more. Kendrick’s band allowed him to combine gritty Hip Hop with Jazz & R&B aesthetics. Kendrick owned the stage and carried the crowd effortlessly.
Diddy owned the final night of Essence Festival as he turned the Mercedes Superdome into one big ’90s party! Can you say nostalgia! Puff was joined on stage by Mase, 112, Faith Evans and French Montana as well as surprise guests Fabolous and Marsha Ambrosius as he made his Essence Festival debut.
It was Diddy and Mase that got the crowd hype as they slid with ease between hits like “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” and “Been Around the World.” 112 had fans dancing to their hits “Its Over Now”, “Dance With Me,” and “Peaches And Cream”. They even slowed it down for the ladies as they sung their hearts out to “Cupid”. Faith Evans reminded fans why she was the 1st Lady of Bad Boy as she performed “Love Like This” & “Soon As I Get Home.” French Montana took the stage and he turned the energy up with his hits “Pop That” and “Ain’t Worried Bout Nothing”. He also brought out Fab to perform “Ball Drop.” Diddy brought out a glowing Marsh Ambrosius to perform her Floetry hit “Say Yes”. Ambrosius announced that she was pregnant as she showed off her baby bump and admitted that she indeed “said yes”.
The Bad Boy set wouldn’t be complete without a Biggie celebration. Diddy cued up a Biggie medley that included hits like “One More Chance,” “Juicy” and “Hypnotize.” This set led right into “I’ll Be Missing You,” and all of the Family was joined by a gospel choir to take the superdome home.