While now three days later after a few of us have finally started to fully recover from this year’s Lollapalooza at Chicago’s famed Grant Park, I decided to put together a list of the top five performances I seen at the world-renowned music festival this year. Hip-Hop really taking over the forefront of the festival this year, it should come as no surprise I have a good amount of my list compiled of Hip-Hop acts or in the R&B/Soul area, which is really also in the element of Hip-Hop.
I also compiled a list of, who I thought was the newest emcee likely to breakout nationally, the newest emcee with the most potential and the emcee who went under the radar before Lollapalooza, but wouldn’t anymore.
So without further ado here is TheHipHopDemocrat’s best of lists compiled for Lollapalooza 2019. Starting with the top performances: At number one, as the best performer of the whole weekend by far was Janelle Monáe for her early Friday evening set. You want crazy, classic, provocative and a truly memorably entertaining set, then look no further than Ms. Monáe. Giving a beautiful vocals display that she doesn’t always get nearly enough credit for, along with the fancy footwork choreography, engaging video reels, stunning stage setup, several costume changes and empowering talks that had a purpose. Monáe showed why her incredible multi-faceted stage presence and performance is, just like herself, so next level. That you get a memorable experience from whenever you see it live that would make her mentors Outkast and even the late great, Prince, very proud.
A very soulfully great singing voice and performer in his own right. Chicago born Grammy Award-nominated singer and songwriter, BJ the Chicago Kid brought the soul to Lollapalooza with his very intimate Bud Light Dive Bar Sessions performance. Showing off his very soulfully smooth and talented voice throughout the small nearly 30 or so longer plus set. BJ delivered by far one of the best performances of the whole festival and what is easily one of the best you will see of Lollapalooza this year. A performance so soulfully amazing and perfect that if not for Monáe giving such a daringly crazy, classic, provocative and memorably entertaining performance of her own, would’ve been the number one performance instead.
Coming in at number three is Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter, as well as musician H.E.R. Who despite being only 22-years-old already has the vocals and stage presence of a seasoned veteran. While also showing that she is a great musician that is already a master of many instruments ranging from both electric and acoustic guitar solos to pieces on bass, keyboards and percussion. That mastery of those instruments along with her very wide-ranging great vocals showed from the very first record she performed, Carried Away to her mastery of percussions and keyboards along with her smooth vocals on both 2 and Feel A Way, that really take you to another space as you watch a master performer at work. With H.E.R. really showing how truly talented she’s by the time she reaches the tale end of her performance by pulling out her guitar, as she sang a very rousing rendition of her record, Lights On, and then about halfway through closing it out with a very amazing guitar shredding of the late great Prince’s, Purple Rain. Definitely living very much living up to our expectations of highlighting her as our can’t miss performer this year.
The first three of my top performances from the weekend being singers, we now finally get an emcee on the list with Childish Gambino, as our fourth best performance all weekend. Not even really a truly an emcee, but a rapper, actor, comedian, writer and multi-faceted entertainer, who just so happens to rap. Singing, rapping, testifying and everything in between, Gambino embodied his songs throughout his very stellar headlining set. His heavy beard with his bare chest and the sweat dripping down throughout a good portion adding even more visual raw humanistic appeal that made the crowd appreciate it even more. Fireworks going off 25 minutes into his very engaging and amazing headlining set, Gambino’s performance had a little bit of everything, ranging from an excellent live backing band to a backing choir that sounded like angels from the heavens in the flesh to a stage setup that felt like it was a pure exhibitionist art piece. Part theater, part concert and part experiential adventure, it at times felt like it was almost too much for a setting like Lollapalooza. But somehow he made it work to help deliver what was easily one of the festival’s top performances.
Rounding out our top five performances of the whole world-renowned music festival here in Chicago is Grammy Award-nominated singer and songwriter, 6LACK. Who like BJ, H.E.R. and surprisingly even Monáe, were among what may have been a record number of acts playing Lollapalooza for the first time this past weekend. 6LACK’s early evening set Saturday on the Bud Light Stage showing his very smooth and incredibly amazing talented live singing voice during his set and showing why the crowd sang along to almost every record verbatim with such ease. The crowd even bouncing and dancing back and forth, as well as singing the catchy lyrics of the singer’s catchy record, Cutting Ties. 6LACK really showing off his amazing great singing voice even more, as he closed out with his J. Cole-assisted and Grammy Award-nominated single, Pretty Little Fears, of course sans Cole, to close out his very stellarly smooth and amazing set.
Chicago’s very own Saba gets honorable mention for his very stunningly stellar performance and set on the American Eagle stage on the opening day of Lollapalooza, as an emcee, who despite all his accolades so far. Has still somehow gone under the radar before Lollapalooza, but wouldn’t anymore. Not regularly mentioned as much as he should be among the upper echelon of Chicago’s currently very burgeoning Chicago Hip-Hop scene. His very powerful energy that really helped elevate the crowds high-energy with his own for a very amazingly great performance truly showed why he’s among the best emcees, performers, producers and songwriters in all of Chicago’s currently stellar Hip-Hop scene right now. Which is why I think he will finally start to get more of the recognition he deserves and no longer fly under the radar.
Then there is Dreamville Records emcee, J.I.D, who’s actual Lollapalooza set Sunday afternoon on the Lake Shore Stage I actually unfortunately ended up missing and had I caught, I’m almost positive would’ve made my list for top five performances of the whole extended weekend for this year’s Lollapalooza. His performance at his Official Lollapalooza Aftershow at Concord Music Hall on Saturday ahead of his mid-afternoon Lollapalooza performance Sunday I was fortunate enough to catch though. A very rousing and energetic performance in front of a sold-out crowd that showed why J.I.D is easily among the top emcees and live performers in all of Hip-Hop right now. Who only continues to keep getting better and is a huge reason why Dreamville is neck-and-neck, if not gaining ground very steadily to possibly even pass Top Dawg Entertainment soon, if they haven’t already as the top Hip-Hop label in all of Hip-Hop right now. Also why I feel J.I.D is the newest emcee from this year’s crop that played Lollapalooza that not only has the most potential, but also to breakout nationally as one of the next biggest Hip-Hop acts. His great emceeing and stage presence to go with his very cool down to earth and humble, yet goofy persona a huge reason why. Already drawing a really big crowd for his mid-afternoon Lollapalooza performance Sunday that had him really engaged with the surprisingly large crowd for that time slot. J.I.D should not only eventually be back in a few years playing the festival again, but one a muchbigger stage and later more somewhat prime-time or close to prime-time slot.