Essence of the ’90s

David Goodson | 2/28/2019, 1:48 p.m.
For those who point to the ’90s as music’s golden era, 1994 could be used as the yardstick in which ...
Essence Music Festival

For those who point to the ’90s as music’s golden era, 1994 could be used as the yardstick in which the decade was measured.  25 years have passed and some of those yesteryear hits have become generational classics as some of those hit makers have become mainstays and in some cases iconic. As any year, we saw debut artists march toward stardom and stars take the leap to superstars; but a look at the status of the talent that permeated that year… WHAT?  Some of the young artists who showed potential that year were Outkast (“Southernplayalisticadilliacmuzik”), Usher (“Usher”), the Notorious B.I.G. (“Ready To Die”), Brandy (“Brandy”), Aaliyah (“Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number”) and The Fugees (“Blunted on Reality”). Who can forget the reigns of Boys II Men (“II”) and TLC (“CRAZYSEXYCOOL”)?

Arguably though, the two most enduring albums sprung forth that year resonated and activated the realness gene in audiences.  If you were to deduce what space they were in when they conceived their material, it wouldn’t be beyond comprehension to hear one if not both reply, “My Life?!  It’s Illmatic!!!” Through their art you hear and ultimately feel the angst, fears, frustrations and aspirations of trying to figure out how to maneuver and survive life. They internalized and verbalized those feelings for millions. That’s why undoubtedly the artistry of Mary J Blige and Nas is firmly entrenched in the annals of Black music, and the albums “My Life” and “Illmatic” are their respective landmark works—some people rank those two albums among the best ever, not just the best from the ’90s.

That’s why the announcement, albeit huge, is not that surprising that those

two seminal albums will be thematically brought to life, Mary J. Blige’s “My Life” and Nas’ “Illmatic” at the 2019 ESSENCE Festival, which also is celebrating its Silver Anniversary.

“When the ESSENCE Festival was founded 25 years ago, it marked a pivotal moment of vision and reverence—a critical acknowledgement of and investment in the power of our culture,” said Michelle Ebanks, chief executive officer of ESSENCE Communications. “In the years since, it has set a standard that many other festivals have aspired to, and today, the ESSENCE Festival has grown to represent an annual homecoming for Black artists from across the globe. In honor of our 25th anniversary, nearly 30 artists per night over three epic nights will come together to mount the world’s largest and most extraordinary cultural celebration. To one and all, we say, ‘Welcome to ESSENCE. Welcome home.’” 

The ESSENCE Festival®, the world’s largest entertainment and cultural experience, celebrates its 25th anniversary during Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans and today unveiled part one of its epic 25th anniversary performance line-up.  The impressive schedule currently features more than 80 of the most talented and creative artists from across the globe.  More acts will be announced in the coming weeks, but as of now the three-night concert series at the Louisiana Superdome also includes Missy Elliott, H.E.R., Anthony Hamilton, Big Freedia, Davido, Doug E. Fresh, Jermaine Dupri, Ledisi, MC Lyte, Morris Day, Musiq Soulchild, Pharrell Williams, Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike (RBRM), Sheila E., Teddy Riley, Teyana Taylor, Timbaland, VanJess 702, AlunaGeorge, ALX, Amanda Black, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Brownstone, Celeste Ntuli, City Girls, El Debarge, Elle Varner, Erica Falls, EU, Force MDs, Ginuwine, Jacquees, Koryn Hawthorne, Lucky Daye, Mase, Nao, Nigel Hall, Normani, Queen Naija, Rakim, Rayvanny, Sauti Sol, Scarface, Talk Box, Tellaman, Vanessa Mdee, Water Seed and more. Plus, a live album recording by PJ Morton with Jojo, Luke James, Mia X, Pell and The Hamiltones.

If that’s not enough, ESSENCE will also cultivate a special main stage moment honoring Frankie Beverly for his lifetime contribution to music. 

Weekend ticket packages are on sale now with prices starting at $185. For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about the ESSENCE Festival® visit Essence.com/festival.  Join the festival community: Follow us on Twitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of Festival on Facebook.

We got ample time to prep. July 4th, firecrackers aren’t the only things getting’ lit. Holla next week. Until then, enjoy the nightlife.