Lamar has cemented himself as rap’s voice to beat, as far as critical acclaim goes -- serious but never boring, Lamar is sure to bring out some good kid, m.A.A.d city classics alongside “Alright” and “King Kunta” from last year’s mammoth To Pimp a Butterfly. Who knows -- maybe the singular MC will even perform a track or two off his rough-cuts album from earlier this year, untitled unmastered.
The U.K. MC is defiantly independent -- in spirit and in business, as she releases all her music through her own label. Her high-energy live presence is infectious. At an intimate set in New York late last year, she had the whole room bouncing -- here, she might face a tougher crowd, but it will be interesting to see how hip-hop and R&B lovers react to the Londoner’s fiery bars.
After more than two decades of hits, Carey has more than enough to fill a festival set. The only question is, which ones make the set list? We’re hoping for a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new, plus a few deep cuts -- “Crybaby,” anyone? Also, it’s important to note that Puff may very well be in the city in time for Mariah’s set (or Mariah could stick around for his): "Fantasy" and "Honey" with all hands on deck would be a sight to behold.
The New Edition/Maxwell One-Two Punch
Friday night will be ladies’ night at Essence -- well, every night is ladies' night at Essence, but this will certainly be one for the ages: the original boy band, New Edition, and Maxwell promoting his first album in seven years, back to back.
To have a New Orleans legend -- the voice of The Meters and the Neville Brothers -- performing in the city where he created his iconic catalog is a rare treat. Don’t be surprised if a few locals are invited to take the stage alongside the 67-year-old artist, to bring the funk as only New Orleans really can.
Where many of her fellow mid-'00s R&B hitmakers have faded from the industry, Ciara’s stuck with it -- continuing to perform and make music and be the spokesmodel she probably should have been from the jump (we’re still waiting on a line of dance workout videos though, Ci). With a heftier back catalog than you’d think (Remember “Oh”? And “Goodies”? And “Lose Control”?) and utterly ageless dance moves, Ciara’s set will doubtless be one of the highlights of the weekend.