JMBLYA Brought “The Sauce” To Houston
After weeks of mild temperatures, the summer heat finally made an appearance in Houston this weekend and so too, did the inaugural installation of JMBLYA Houston. Though the festival has been in existence for several years, 2018 marks its first installation in Houston and hopefully not its last. This hip-hop centric festival brought together some of the hottest names of 2017 and 2018, even in light of two critical, last-minute cancellations by both Cardi B, due to her pregnancy, and Kevin Gates, due to legal concerns.
Showing its impressive strength in the Texas music market, Scoremore Shows quickly filled these gaping holes in the headliner slots by booking both Young Thug and T.I. shortly before the festival kicked off in Dallas and subsequently traveled to Austin and Houston. With these additions, the lineup became one for the books with J. Cole in the top spot and his album “KOD” being released just before the festival commenced.
Though the early portion of the day was filled with high energy performers, the hot weather and borderline-extreme crowding up to the front barricades left fans struggling to match the intensity of the artists. Attendees both large and small, young and old, male and female, were constantly being pulled out of the crowd by security and medics due to severe dehydration and other heat-related issues. There were, however, water stations throughout the festival, cases and cases of waters being passed out to attendees, and constant reminders on the single LED screen to be mindful of crowding up to the barricades. Fans were almost too-eager to see performers like Trippie Red and Migos, so much so that considerable discomfort and crowding were overlooked simply to be close to the action.
For those more fortunate to have spent a few extra dollars on the festival to escape the general admission chaos, the VIP section provided a safe-haven from both the heat and crowding. The physical setup of the festival was quite unique and certainly tailored to favor these VIP patrons. Noting the large discrepancy in VIP and GA viewing arrangements, there were often chants shouted across the barricades to one another sounding in “F*CK VIP! F*CK VIP! F*CK VIP!” and “VIP! VIP! VIP!”
The two stages were positioned side-by-side with a large barricaded space between them for the VIP patron to roam freely and easily between the two stages. General admission guests, however, had to walk around the VIP bubble and crowd the outer edges of the stages for any worthwhile view. With one single LED centered between the two stages, it quickly became evident that securing a good viewing spot for both stages was likely out of the question. Instead, camping out at one stage and simply listening from a distance to the other stage’s performances was the best bet for attendees wanting to be close to any of the artists.
As for the actual performances, though, the day was filled with excellence. “Lesser-known” (though still widely known in the hip-hop realm) artists like Ski Mask the Slum God, Trippie Red and Playboi Carti brought serious energy to the early portion of the festival. Shortly thereafter, Houston rap icons Bun B and Trae Tha Truth, along with DJ Mr. Rogers took the stage and transitioned the evening into the headline performances.
The first two of the evening were T.I. and Young Thug, on the Shrimp Stage and Wolf Stage, respectively. While T.I. wooed the crowd with classics like “Whatever You Like,” “Bring Em Out,” and “Top Back,” Young Thug served the fans a platter of contemporary hits and collaborations. Performing songs like “Pick Up The Phone,” “Relationship,” and “Wycleaf Jean,” Young Thug had the crowd jumping with their hands in the air for nearly his entire set. Last but certainly not least, Migos and J. Cole closed out the evening with absolute hit after hit. Both riding their recent, and very successful album releases, the two performances drew incredibly large crowds despite the heat and crowding issues plaguing the majority of the day. Needless to say, JMBLYA’s inaugural Houston showcase was a big success, but the question remains open whether they will return in 2018.
Photography by Marshall Heins II
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