From May 4-6, JMBLYA, a hip-hop oriented music festival toured through Texas' biggest cities. This year, the event stopped at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday, May 5 with nearly 10,000 ticket holders anticipating some of the biggest names in music.
Story by Hannah McMorris
Photos by Kaylin Balderrama
The festival grounds held two main stages, the Shrimp Stage and the Wolf Stage, with concerts alternating between the two. With such a killer line-up, having two stages made all the difference this year. Though all artists continue to make waves in the hip-hop and rap industries, the variety of artists pulled in fans from all backgrounds.
Among newer acts like up-and-coming rapper Jack Harlow, Soundcloud sensation Trippie Redd, and fashion model and rapper Playboi Carti, legends like Bun B, Trae Tha Truth and DJ Mr. Rogers also graced the stage. Houston rap is often characterized by its slower rhythms, heavy bass and "chopped and screwed" influence. Since the '90s, many H-Town artists like Bun B, Trae, and DJ Mr. Rogers have made significant contributions to the rap game. Trae Tha Truth stood out, even bringing his son on stage during the performance.
A few days before the concert, it was revealed that Kevin Gates could not perform due to legal concerns out of his control. T.I. took his place and led the crowd through throwbacks like "No Mediocre." The audience didn't miss a beat, singing in unison to old favorites.
Cardi B was originally set to perform in the evening, but cancelled her upcoming performances due to her pregnancy. Young Thug graced the stage instead, opening with "Relationship" from his 2017 album, "Beautiful Thugger Girls". As the sun set, he followed with popular hits "Wyclef Jean" and "pick up the phone" [sic]. The energy of the crowd heightened throughout his set, with Migos following soon after.
Fans screamed as Migos, a hip-hop family trio from Atlanta, approached the stage. Though Quavo, Takeoff and Offset have gained increasing popularity recently, the group has made music together since 2009. Their 2014 hit, "Fight Night" was one of the performance's openers, later followed by "Walk It Talk It" from their most recent album "Culture II".
Though the good vibes and energy was palpable, it proved to be too much for some. This year, JMBLYA placed free water stations throughout the concert grounds, but the heat and close quarters caused many to be pulled out of the crowd due to fainting and safety concerns.
At the end of the night, headliner and North Carolina native J. Cole, had the crowd dancing in sheer anticipation. The only artist who performed with a band and back-up singers, his set was personal, engaging and supremely dynamic. Before performing songs from his newly released album "KOD", he also performed crowd pleaser "Deja Vu" from his 2016 work, "4 Your Eyez Only". J. Cole, true to his lyrical style, was raw and magnetic, even performing "1985" solo, without background music or singers.
Texas' premiere hip-hop music festival, JMBLYA, featured a line-up of artists from a variety of backgrounds and musical influence. Beginning around 2:30 p.m., the night closed with headliner J. Cole and fans returned home after a full day.