NEW ORLEANS – Hip hop takes center stage at this summer's Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans as the event commemorates the 50th anniversary of the genre with performances by Lauryn Hill, Megan Thee Stallion and Jermaine Dupri.
Rap artist Doug E. Fresh will curate special performances by other soon-to-be announced hip hop pioneers, while Hill will mark the 25th anniversary of her five-time Grammy-winning album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."
In addition, the event will laud Dupri, a Grammy award-winning producer and founder of the So So Def record label, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. He will coordinate special performances by some of the Atlanta-based artists that So So Def has produced. Those performers have yet to be named, but Dupri has worked with Da Brat, Bow Wow, Xscape, Jagged Edge and Anthony Hamilton.
Also headlining is three-time Grammy winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion, whose work includes such hits as “Savage,” “Hot Girl Summer,” and “Body.”
The festival is set to run June 30 through July 3, with three nights of music inside the Superdome, beginning that Friday. Other artists scheduled to perform so far include Monica, Wizkid, Coco Jones and Kizz Daniel, with more talent for the nightly concerts to be announced later.
Presented by Coca-Cola, the festival has featured some of the world’s biggest entertainers including Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Prince, Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Kendrick Lamar and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.
Essence Fest was founded in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence Magazine, but it has grown into one of New Orleans’ marquee events bolstering the city’s summer tourism season.
In addition to the concerts, there are free daytime seminars held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, as well as the Essence Food & Wine Festival, Beautycon, Essence Authors and other events held in the city and aimed at engaging the community and economically benefiting local Black-owned businesses.
“As the nation’s largest festival by per day attendance, (the festival) continues to be a crown jewel of Black culture and plays a pivotal role in the amplification and celebration of the contributions of the Black community through business, music, and more,” said Vice President of ESSENCE Festival of Culture Hakeem Holmes.
Both Hill and Dupri have history with Essence. Hill performed at the festival in 1999, and last year, she made a surprise appearance during her former Fugees bandmate Wyclef Jean's set, sending the audience into orbit with their performance of “Fu-Gee-La” and “Ready or Not.”
Dupri shared the 2019 stage with Grammy-winning songbird Mariah Carey, rapper Lil Jon and others.
In 2020 and 2021, the festival was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 version was held in-person and virtually, resulting in 1.9 million live and virtual attendees, according to organizers.
Three-night ticket packages for the Superdome concerts are on sale now, starting at $214 plus fees. Single-night tickets are not available yet.