J. Cole’s annual Dreamville Festival returned to North Carolina this weekend and did not disappoint. With a lineup that included some of the biggest names in hip-hop, the Raleigh music festival delivered a high-energy, diverse talent showcase and a memorable surprise-filled co-headlining performance by Drake and Cole to close the weekend.
Performances kicked off at the historic Dorothea Dix Park on Saturday with a range of rappers and singers, but not without an audible from Mother Nature, as high wind speeds delayed gates and set times by a few hours. Key Glock was also forced to cancel his set due to travel delays, but the festival was able to replace his set with Toosii and adjusted the set times to save the day. Once things got started, fans enjoyed performances from some of the most exciting female artists in hip-hop and R&B, like the City Girls, Ari Lennox, and Jessie Reyez, and sets from names like Lil Durk, Sean Paul, and Usher.
Usher’s headlining set on Saturday was a true spectacle, with the R&B icon delivering a 22-song high-energy performance that had the packed Raleigh crowd dancing and singing along to his endless catalog of hits like “Yeah,” “My Boo”, “Burn,” “U Got It Bad” and more. And with one of the cruelest April Fools jokes of the year, Usher got in the holiday spirit and pretended to bring out Beyonce for the Raleigh crowd, but he made it up to the public by continuing to sing and dance to his years of hits. Almost three decades removed from his self-titled debut, Usher still can win over a crowd with ease, and his classics from the 2000s remain classics today.
The massive crowds continued for Day 2 of the festival on Sunday, with early performances from Waka Flocka Flame, Dreamville’s Cozz and Bas, Mario, and more. The impressive performances didn’t stop as the sun went down, though, as evening and festival came to a close with sets from JID, Summer Walker, Burna Boy, and a very special set from J. Cole and Drake, which Dreamville fans will talk about for years to come.
The longtime friends and collaborators delivered an epic set, performing some of their biggest hits throughout the performance. J. Cole kicked things off, performing some of his biggest hits and many B-side records as a special treat for the crowd, including several performances joined by his Dreamville labelmates like JID, Earthgang, Bas, and more.
Next, Cole introduced Drake to the Dreamville crowd, as Drizzy kicked things off with his Travis Scott collab “Sicko Mode” to start things off with high energy. Drake has some surprises of his own, though, as he not only performed a catalog of his best tracks but he brought out several surprise guests, including Lil Uzi Vert, Glorilla, 21 Savage, and Lil Wayne. The night wasn’t over, though, as J. Cole returned to the stage to say goodbye with a performance of his “Forest Hills Drive” track “No Role Modelz.”
Each rapper delivered a career-spanning collection of tracks that reminded fans of their come-up in rap as peers and how each artist has grown since the days of “The Come Up” and “Thank Me Later.” While both rappers could have closed out the festival in an unforgettable fashion on their own, the combination of the two alone, not to mention all the surprises, was worth the price of admission and won’t be matched by any other festival this year.
Dreamville Festival was not only an incredible weekend of music but also one of culture and community, and it’s no surprise that the fest has become one of the largest and most popular artist-led music festivals in the world, generating millions of dollars each year for the local and North Carolina economy.
Check out our favorite images from Dreamville 2023 below.
Article written by Shawn Grant #TheSource