Updated: Feb 20
Music festivals have become a culture in today’s society. They are a place for like-minded people to gather and connect over music and activities, most of the time for several days. When these festivals last a couple of days, they become festival-goers’ temporary homes, and something about roughing it with positive-spirited people makes you want to keep returning year after year.
You’ve likely heard of most of the big-hitters, such as Bonnaroo and Coachella, but did you know that there are festivals made specifically for the love of rap music? Sure, some of the variety music festivals have hip-hop sets, and sometimes they draw pretty notable acts (Eminem played Bonnaroo in 2018), but a music festival designed especially for rap music sounds like a great time to me. Here are some of the coolest rap and hip-hop festivals.
1. Rolling Loud
Located in: Los Angeles and Oakland; California; Queens, New York; Miami Gardens, Florida
This 3-day festival kicked off in Florida in 2015 and has since expanded to include 2 locations in California and 1 in New York City, and it still has plans to expand further in the future. Currently, there are 3 stages at each festival, and over the years, artists such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Kodak Black, and Travis Scott have graced these stages to perform for the biggest hip-hop fans. Though camping is not an option at Rolling Loud, most people who don’t live locally stay in nearby hotels to stay close to the action.
2. Dreamville Festival
Located in: Raleigh, North Carolina
It’s no doubt that one of the biggest names in hip-hop today is J. Cole, and it’s only right that he has his own festival to prove it. Because J. Cole is from North Carolina, he curated the Dreamville Festival as a way to raise money for his hometown. Along with J. Cole himself, Big Sean, 21 Savage, Nelly, 6Lack, and many more moguls as well as up-and-comers took the stage at 2019’s debut event. It is a one day festival, but many memories can be made in just one day in the right environment with the right company.
Located in: Rogers, Arkansas; Dallas and Austin Texas
JMBLYA has made a name for itself as the largest hip-hop festival in Texas since 2013, but it just kicked off its first year in Arkansas in 2019. Recently, the Texas festival featured Travis Scott, Lil Wayne, Sheck Wes, and Kevin Gates. In Arkanas, recent performers include Juice WRLD, Chief Keef, and Playboi Carti. Money raised from this festival goes to benefit Music Forward and Grounded in Music, which are organizations that help provide access to music education.
4. Hot 97 FM Summer Jam
Located in: East Rutherford, New Jersey
This festival is a veteran in the field, kicking off more than 20 years ago in 1994. Most recently, the festival included performances from Cardi B, Tory Lanez, Migos, Meek Mill, and A Boogie with da Hoodie. Taking place at MetLife Stadium, it is a one-day festival where the party begins in the parking lot outside the arena long before any artist takes the stage. At this festival, locals are able to put aside their differences and convene for a couple of hours of music and community. Most of the time, at least… it is worth mentioning that a riot broke out in this parking lot in 2015, resulting in several arrests.
5. Made in America
Located in: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This music festival is special because Jay-Z himself picks the lineup, so you know that only the hottest artists are going to grab the mic here. This festival is unique because it includes amusement park rides and tons of activities that many of the other hip hop based festivals are lacking. Last year, artists playing on the stages of Benjamin Franklin Parkway included Lizzo, Cardi B, and Travis Scott. This outdoor event takes place rain or shine, so grab your poncho or umbrella.
6. Lil WeezyAna
Located in: New Orleans, Louisiana
Taking place in Lil’ Wayne’s hometown for half a decade now, Lil WeezyAna recently included performances by Meek Mill, Megan Thee Stallion, Kash Doll, and Saweetie. The 2019 rendition of the festival didn’t go so well after cries of a gunshot spread through the grounds. There ended up being no gun, but many people were injured by trampling fans fearing for their lives. Still, this festival remains a great tradition each year, and the show continued amidst the ruckus.
7. One Musicfest
Located in: Atlanta, Georgia
This popular event recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary with artists such as Rae Sremmurd, Tory Lanez, DMX, and the Wu-Tang Clan. This festival takes place outdoors, and there are 3 stages providing music for 2 days. It is also an authentic way to experience local Atlanta food due to more than 25 regional vendors. This festival happens rain or shine, and if you leave, you can’t come back, so be prepared.
Things you need:
If you’ve never been to a music festival before, you need to be prepared. As a frequent Bonnaroo attendee, here is what I recommend.
1. A CamelBak. If the festival you’re attending is outside in the heat, it is especially important to have constant access to fresh water. The hot sun can dehydrate you quickly, and although you may want to reach for a beer, it is very important to even out your consumption with a drink that puts hydration back into your body. You can browse a selection of CamelBak’s here, but before purchasing, make sure you check your festival’s rules.
2. Don’t forget to stock up on additional warm weather supplies, such as hats and sunscreen. This may seem like a given, but many people are so excited for the action that they forget some of the most important things they need to bring. The sun can make you sick after extended periods of time, which will ruin your festival experience if you aren’t prepared.
3. If you’re allowed to bring snacks (once again, check your festival’s policies), I would recommend bringing something that is both filling and nutritional, such as cereal bars. Of course, you’ll want to check out some of the food vendors on site, but the price for food can add up quickly, and having extra snacks is never a bad idea.
4. It’s very important to bring comfortable shoes to a music festival. There are a certain type that I recommend, which I have discussed in a few of my blog posts now. They are waterproof and light-weight, making them ideal for outdoor festivals where you’ll be walking long distances or where it might rain. Check out men’s sizes here and women’s sizes here.
No matter which festival you choose to go to, I can almost assure that you’ll have a good time and meet friends that you’ll never forget. These are only a few of the festivals that offer amazing hip-hop acts, so if you have any other suggestions, leave them in the comments, and if you visit one of these, please share your experience as well!
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