Harlem Festival of Culture

The past 50 years have had their share of valley lows regarding hip-hop culture. As we celebrate, let’s also reflect on how and if we’ve grown. It’s fo’ sho’ needed, but are we moving in that direction? Is there a proverbial adult in the room? If someone had injected thought, hindsight, and vision into that volatile cocktail of ego, greed, wealth, and ignorance, maybe, just maybe, some of the biggest travesties for some of the biggest artists in hip-hop could have been averted. 

Fans still lament the senseless deaths of Scott La Rock, Freaky Tah, Jam Master Jay, Pac, Big, Nipsy, XXXTentacion, and Pop Smoke amongst an ever-expanding list whose passings are met with a huge question mark—mainly, what would they have gone on to do and how would artistry have been altered had they were still with us? 

Imagine what the night of August 11 at Yankee Stadium could have been. What if that date had been the second part of a bicoastal two-night affair that, with Dodger Stadium being the other host, saw a VS-type battle between the Deathrow Records crew and Bad Boy Records? Team Pac vs. Team Big, pitting music and swag against each other? How crazy would that have been? Topping of the night would be headliners D and Run, with Jay manning his spot behind the wheels of steel. 

The unfortunate fact is that the streets have no heart, and the beat goes on. Just a thought…now back on brand. 

This weekend—Friday, July 28 through Sunday, July 30—marks the inaugural presentation of the Harlem Festival of Culture (HFC). The lofty long-term goal of the three-day music festival, taking place on Randalls Island, is to become the premiere celebration of Black music and Black culture. It will be hosted in year one by hip-hop legend MC Lyte, celebrating the heritage and vibrant cultural mosaic of Harlem. The star-studded line-up will showcase live performances by musicians, artists, and performers hailing from the iconic neighborhood and beyond.

Thus far, the projected lineup is:

Day 1: Friday, July 28

Bell Biv DeVoe


Doug E. Fresh



Estelle Presents “The LinkUp” featuring Patra, Lumidee, Max Glazer, Mr. Killa, Nadine Sutherland, Nina Sky, Rupee, Serani, Wayne Wonder

Day 2: Saturday, July 29



Muni Long

Teyana Taylor


Day 3: Sunday, July 30

Adam Blackstone

Coco Jones

Eric Bellinger

Fat Joe

Remy Ma

Ro James

Wyclef Jean

In addition to the music, the festival will include a curated food experience featuring the taste of Harlem and other cultural delights, and the Mart 125 experience, featuring local Harlem-owned businesses. On paper, it looks like we may have something else to bring to the world of Harlem. Team support is of the essence, however, so cop your tickets at Ticketmaster.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

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