Photo credit: Getty Images for ESSENCE
(AllHipHop Features) The 25th annual Essence Festival took over New Orleans with another year as one of the largest curated live music and entertainment experiences in the country.
Essence Festival continues to engage African-American women internationally through an unparalleled celebration of music, culture, and technology that empowers, uplifts and inspires.
The Essence Festival ran the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Convention center by day, and the Mercedes Superdome by night for yet another year of action-packed panels, performances, and an overall celebration of black excellence and black girl magic. Essence Festival is an all-inclusive festival as it features big-name concert headliners, workshops, panels, keynote speeches, technology, style, and beauty.
This year the one-and-only Missy Elliott hit the stage on Friday with an electrifying performance that included her hits "Sock It To Me," "Supa Dupa Fly," "Get Ur Freak On," "Lick Shots," and more. She even brought out the baddest b*tch, Trina, to perform "One Minute Man".
Jermaine Dupri did it for Atlanta and Hip Hop on Sunday with a splash of St. Louis during his 'The ESSENCE of Atlanta' set. The set included performances from Da Brat, Lil Jon, Nelly, Ying Yang Twins, Crime Mob, Dem Franchize Boyz, Young Bloodz, and Bone Crusher.
The icon Teddy Riley once again delivered an electrifying performance with his 'The Legends of Music' set that not only showcased his greatness, but also included additional performances by his legendary friends such as Timbaland, Pharrell, and Ginuwine.
Timbaland and Pharrell ran through their hits, and Teddy rocked the stage with them while playing the keyboard and talk box to their songs. The nearly two hour jam session also saw surprise performances from Wyclef Jean and Doug E. Fresh. Teddy's set also included earlier performances from Teyana Taylor, Ro James and Maejor.
Riley also turned the Superdome into a 80s and 90s New Jack Swing Party with Dave Hollister and Blackstreet.
They say Essence Fest isn't Essence without Mary J. Blige and Frankie Beverly & Maze, so to no surprise, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul and Sunday night's honoree, Beverly, returned to headline the main stage on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Frankie Beverly was honored with a performance by Anthony Hamilton. Hamilton then introduced a video montage that saluted Beverly. Following the video, Essence magazine co-founder Ed Lewis, Essence Communications president Michelle Ebanks and New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell appeared onstage to present Beverly with the key to the city.
Beverly took the stage immediately after to run through his hits and remind attendees why he was the closing headliner for the first 15 years of the festival, and for many non-consecutive years afterwards. The legend fired up with “We Are One”, “Happy Feelings,” and “Joy and Pain,”. Then in true tradition, attendees sung the fan-favorite culture-defining staple, “Before I Let Go" while doing a mean electric slide. Many fans were heartbroken that Beyonce didn't make an appearance in the tribute or in Beverly's set as her cover of "Before I Let Go" became an instant hit this year.
Mary didn't disappoint as she ran through her extensive catalog of hits in a set that included three outfit changes. Blige performed "You Remind Me," "Real Love," "I'm Goin' Down," "No More Drama," "Just Fine," and many more of her classics. Blige even brought out the Queen Bee, Lil Kim, to perform their hit collaboration, "I Can Love You."
On Saturday, our forever First Lady, Michelle Obama, sat down on the main stage of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with journalist Gayle King for an hour-long discussion based on both Obama’s best-selling 2018 memoir, “Becoming,” that included transparent conversations about Michelle's life as mother, wife, and being the former First Lady.
Nas took the stage Saturday, and rightfully so celebrated the 25th anniversary of his debut album, “Illmatic.” Backed by both a deejay and a band, Nas made attendees reminisce with classics like "Hate Me Now," "If I Ruled The World," and "Oochie Wally."
Others to grace the Main Stage included Ledisi, MC Lyte, H.E.R., Morris Day, Sheila E., Musiq Soulchild, Big Freedia & Mannie Fresh.
The Super Lounges featured performances from City Girl's Yung Miami, BJ The Chicago Kid, Ginuwine, 702, Brownstone, Elle Varner, Vanjess, Koryn Hawthorne, PJ Morton, Mase, Celeste Ntuli, Amanda Black, Suti Sol, Nigel Hall, Nao, Queen Naija, Erica Falls, Wurld, Vanessa MDEE, Normani, Dawn Richard, Jacquees, Alx, Lucky Dave, Rayvanny, Tellaman, and Nasrty C.
The 25th annual Essence Festival certainly did it for the culture once again, and we can't wait to see what's in-store for next year!