For the fifth year, Broccoli City Festival brought out tons of folks to the Gateway DC complex in Southeast DC. Broccoli City initially started to raise awareness among millennials about the importance of Earth Day and exhibiting how clean living and lifestyle can be fun curated by Brandon MacEachern, a Howard University Graduate (Hey HU!). As with all things that go on year after year, BCFest has grown into way more than that- it has now become a celebration during socioeconomic change and had a large array of vendors selling wares from African clothing, t-shirts to all kinds of unique creations. The most talked about exhibit was the Planned Parenthood booth, the Toyota booth and of course photo booths were a must and a hit. I would say one of the most stand out things about BC Fest is the large array of people from all cultures, ages, demographics, coming together, enjoying both mainstream and indie music in one of the most notorious areas of DC. During this peaceful gathering where everyone has come to enjoy the music, food, vendors whether rain or shine, they were not disappointed this year with a lineup that had Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Sir The Baptist, Chaz French, Rapsody, Smino, Nao, Solange and Rae Sremmurd. Despite the dreary rainy muddy day, with breaks of sunshine, the festival attendees didn’t care, they came to support Broccoli City Festival and hear the amazing music.
Lil Yachty had the entire grounds going crazy with his gleeful lyrics and 21 Savage tore into Broccoli City Fest with “X” and “No Heart” and danced without a care in the world. With all the thrashing going on felt more like a heavy metal show than a hip-hop one, but hey that’s what 21 Savage brings. Nick Grant, the South Carolina native newcomer to hip hop, hit the crowd with hard hitting catchy tracks to turn up but he made sure his Pro-Black Message about the current socioeconomic state of America was not missed. He reminds me of a combination of Kendrick meet J. Cole nevertheless, his hard hitting lyrics about street life and being black in America, left the crowd hype. Smino showed up on crutches but he did not let the rain stop his set, as soulful grooves burst from the speakers, it took the audience a while to get into his Andre 3000 yet the crowd seemed familiar with his song, “Netflix and Dusse”. NAO came out looking like a goddess in a bright African inspired outfit that matched her beautiful soulful lilt. Her sultry light yet heavy voice has gained her a following as people murmured about how they were waiting to catch her set and she did not disappoint her true fans although the weather tried to interrupt the sound. Her set was the perfect way to Segway from daytime to early evening as it ended just at dusk.
As an orange moon appears on stage and odd synthesized sounds shoot from speakers, the crowd roars and out steps Solange, she started off her set with the old Solange tunes and through the gloomy weather, the sun started shining a bit as her sound team dropped the beat to the powerful anthem “F.U.B.U’ (featuring The Dream and BJ The Chicago Kid) which starts with a Master P speech. As she began to go into the song, people started to ignore the drizzle, dark clouds, dusk and hundreds of people standing next to them and went into a celestial music zone. It was amazing, song by song Solange, sang and danced her way into the black girl anthem, “Don’t Touch My Hair’ which was the climax of her performance complete with choreography. The only suggestion most of us had in the audience is that the set ran too long and we were all ready for Rae Sremmurd. I saw this group last year at Trillectro and I guess the saying is true, performers get better with time because they hit every song, note, verse in perfect sync. I was sooo proud of how far they have come as live performers that I almost missed a chance to dance to “No Flex Zone”, “Come Get Her”, stand out track “Black Beatles”, “Throw Some Mo” the female anthem and the entire crowd lost it when the bassline for “This Could Be Us’ came in after a moment of silence. It’s safe to say that the audience enjoyed all of their on stage antics and catchy riffs along with an incredibly designed light and visual show, I highly recommend them to be added to your performance bucket list of Must See Performers.
Even though the day started out kinda muddy and murky, it was still a success for the organizers and patrons of this year’s Broccoli City Festival as we learned about the environment, danced, sang and forgot that we became mud people for a few hours.