More than 100,000 music fans swarmed Tom Lee Park for the 2018 Beale Street Music Festival, and were treated to an amazing weekend of music, food and fun.
Huge crowds turned out for the hip-hop acts. And while neo-soul star Erykah Badu packed them in, the makeup was decidedly different. (Check out the photos.)
Festivities began on a wet and rainy Friday (May 4) and although there weren’t many African –American acts performing that night, hip-hop artist Tyler the Creator opened the show with tons of pyrotechnic visuals along with a high-energy performance. “This sh— better than Coachella!” he repeated throughout the night. “Memphis is everything!”
But music fan Sarah Roberts was already looking forward to Saturday night.
“I’m just ready for Ludacris and Al Kapone tomorrow”, said Roberts, from Forrest City, Ark. “I’m fans of both, and I just hope the weather permits, but either way I’m excited! This is my first festival ever, Tyler was crazy dope — he totally gained a new fan!”
Al Kapone showcased a Memphis-themed performance Saturday. He opened his set with violinist Lila Hood, as they performed his chart-topping hits with a live band for the first time.
Kapone also served up all sorts of Memphis flavor with “jook” dancers and a special performance from former “Hypnotize Minds” members Frayser Boy and Lil Wyte. The crowd roared as Frayser Boy showed off his 2006 Oscar. Frayser Boy, along with Three 6 Mafia won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from “Hustle & Flow.”
“This is the best set I’ve done in while,” Kapone said after the show. “I really love the mixed crowd. The fact they’re enjoying my music is the reason I continue to do what I do as an artist. The energy was crazy.”
Capping off the night was actor and hip-hop superstar Ludacris. Luda continued to energize the crowd with music from his 18-year career that left fans begging for an encore.
“Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize how much music Luda put out over the years”, said Amanda Tanksley, who came in from Nashville for the festival. “I’m literally hoarse from reciting every lyric!”
“I’ve visited Memphis a lot throughout the years, and it’s so much history that comes from this city,” Luda said in an exclusive chat with The New Tri-State Defender. “Al Kapone, 8Ball and MJG, and others have been influential to my career. So it’s always good to come and perform.
“Plus, the crowd is always live as hell,” Luda chuckled.
An estimated 80,000 fans showed up to the final night on Sunday. Memphians Young Dolph and Juicy J took the stage Sunday night.
“It’s always good performing at home,” Juicy J said. “My family and friends are here, and I love my fans, it’s always a good time.”
YKOM White, an upcoming rapper from South Memphis, was introduced as the newest signee to Juicy J’s label, Mo’ Faces Entertainment. “I’m so excited, this is my first performance,” White said. “I’m happy to be representing Memphis on a major level like this.”
Fading into the evening, Atlantic recording artist D.R.A.M. graced the stage, along with Erykah Badu, who wooed and wowed the crowd with her soothing voice and animated attire. Badu performed hits dating all the way back to her 1997 debut “On and On” through “Window Seat” and “Bag Lady.” And she had everyone wanting to call “Tyrone” as she sung her signature crowd-pleasing hit.