Every Memorial Day weekend for the past 28 years, UCLA has hosted a music festival called the JazzReggae Festival. Originally, the first day was devoted to Jazz and the second day was devoted Reggae. Though the first day has morphed to a “Jam” day, the festival has always been able to pull in outstanding talent for the price of admission. If you are ever in Los Angeles during the Memorial Day weekend, and looking to enjoy a music festival at an extremely reasonable price, I suggest that you check out the lineup to see if any artists you like are on the bill.
Armed with a photo pass for the event, I was able to take pictures of the artists listed below. Click on the link to check them out!
Rita Ora is a British singer-songwriter who released her first album in 2012 and is currently featured on Iggy Azalea’s song “Black Widow” from the chart-topping album “The New Classic”. She is currently signed to Roc Nation and one can hope that a follow up album is forthcoming. Rita Ora is a babe. You should follow her on Instagram @RitaOra. And fellas … she’s newly single too!
KILLER COVER: Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan Covers Joy Division
I’m a huge Depeche Mode Fan. When I found this cover of Dave Gahan covering the Joy Division classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” I lost my shit. Terrific cover.
Marvin Gaye Doesn’t Need Instrumental Accompaniment
The video below is a just the vocal feed of live performance. Who says you need instruments to sound good. This video proves that if you can sing …. you can sing. The first few seconds are silent (it’s just the vocal feed, so you can’t hear the introductory instrumentation. For your auditory pleasure, the a cappella track of Marvin Gaye singing “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. You’re welcome.
This 8 year old from Norway is AMAZING. Angelina Jordan got her “start” performing on (and winning) Norway’s Got Talent. She has a voice that is beyond her years, and it blows me away every time I hear her sing. Ugh. Simply marvelous. If her voice impresses you as much as it does me, you really need to follow her on Facebook and check out her other videos.
Working for Snoop, I’ve gone to my fare share of his concerts. One would think that after going to more shows than I can count on my fingers and toes, I’d be bored or indifferent to watching him perform. This is far from the truth.
Snoop’s passion for his art always impresses me. His live show, which features a live band, is always entertaining and is simply superior to those acts who rap over series of pre-recorded beats. Though this performance may have been lacking in some familiar faces (R.I.P. Uncle June Bugg), it was filled with all of his hits spanning his over two decades of hit-making.
Though it was Jazz Day, and not Reggae Day, he opened his set with one of my favorite tracks off his reggae album “Reincarnated”, “Here Comes The King”. He paid tribute to Nate Dogg with his performance of the 213 songs “So Fly”. He performed his verses from 50 Cent duet of “P.I.M.P.” He performed “Lodi Dodi,” “Gin & Juice,”Drop It Like It’s Hot,” “Who Am I (What’s My Name)” and on and on and on. He even dropped his verse from Katy Perry’s single, “California Gurls” in the middle of his set.
Snoop, dressed in a custom made, all-black, UCLA jersey with the number 19, stitched on, played to the crowd and used his charming stage-manner to his have the crowd vibing off of him throughout the entire set. It was either that, or the copious amounts of weed that was being lit up while he was performing. As an aside, UCLA has a campus-wide no-cigarrette smoking policy. In fact, I was forced to toss my cigarettes into a trash can before entering the festival grounds, and even noticed security actively enforcing the policy all throughout the day. But weed smoking? Naw. That’s all good. LOL.
When Snoop closed his set with “Young, Wild & Free,” he had the entire crowd singing along. He finally took his sunglasses off to address the crowd to keep singing along. When the music ended, and he hustled off stage to head off to his DJ gig in Las Vegas that evening, the crowd was still buzzing, perhaps still high from the weed that was smoked during the set, but more likely high from the hit filled set that they had just listened too.
I couldn’t find a complete setlist for Snoop’s performance at this event online, so if anybody happens to know what it was, please post it in the comments so that I can add it into this post. Thanks!
I woke up Saturday morning still in a daze from The Mrs. Carter World Tour performance that Beyonce put on at Staples the night before, but I still had two more full days of music ahead of me.
BET set up an outdoor venue they dubbed the “Music Matters Stage” where “the stars of tomorrow shine today”. Some of the acts in years past have included Miguel, Melanie Fiona and J. Cole, so I decided to take a look at the schedule to see who was performing that day. Ummm… Marsha Ambrosius at 1:15pm? Damn. I was actually a bit surprised to see her scheduled to perform because in my mind she’s already a Grammy Award-winning star of today, both as a member of Floetry and her solo career.
I checked my emails and noticed that there were some items that needed some attention, so after spending a greater portion of the morning and early afternoon slaving away at the computer, I realized that I wasn’t going to make it in time to see Marsha Ambrosius perform.
After I had pushed “send” on the last work email that Saturday, the Scorpio in me made a rather impulsive decision. “Gee,” I told my self, “it’s such a nice day! Why don’t I try taking public transportation from West Los Angeles to downtown Los Angeles? I could use the exercise”. I threw on my clothes and my credentials, and started the journey. One bus, one train without air-conditioning and an hour and a half later I got to my destination. Wasn’t so bad, but I did take a little longer that I had anticipated.
The area around the heart of the BET festival was buzzing with activity. I looked at my watch, and noticed that I probably could catch one or two acts before I had to head over to the restaurant for dinner. I walked to the Music Matters entry area and flashed my credentials, and thereafter made a b-line to the main stage where Bridget Kelly was performing. I wasn’t too familiar with her catalog, but I seemed to be the only one who didn’t as it everyone at the stage to watch her in the blazing summer heat were singing along. She did sing a respectable cover of the Lauryn Hill classic “Ex Factor”. I knew that song.
The next artist who graced the stage was K. Michelle. I never watched and episode of Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta , but apparently K. Michelle is a featured cast member. After gaining media exposure through the reality show, she was able to land a deal with Warner Bros. Records. Like Bridget Kelly, K. Michelle’s fans were there in full force, standing in the sun, and singing along with almost all of her songs.
I had to leave the Music Matters Stage before K. Michelle finished up her set, but I was glad that I was actually able to make use of the “Event Staff” pass I had been wearing around my neck to enjoy some of the non-featured music being offered during the weekend.
At dinner, I was given an “Artist Pass” for the Staples Center shows that evening. Forty-Five minutes later, the powers that be asked for the pass back. Apparently, a real artist needed it, so I had to surrender the laminate for the evening. I guess someone else was “Derrick” for the evening. Lol. I wish the team had told me who it was.
Dinner took a little longer than expected, so by the time I got inside of the Staples Center, Schoolboy Q and Miguel had already finished their sets. By the time I had made my way to my seat, J. Cole took the stage.
I know very little about J Cole, other than the fact that his latest album was released the same week as Kanye’s “Yeezus”, and that his record sales for that week second only to Kanye’s. I tried to get into the music, but I found myself being easily distracted with people watching or trying to figure what samples were used in his songs. It seemed that a lot of his crowd pleasers relied on familiar melodies. A few songs into his set, J. Cole looked around and wondered aloud, “Is this how Kobe feels?” The crowd went nuts and he continued his eloquent, if not somewhat monotonous, flow.
After J. Cole’s set, I quickly made my way to the “Chairman’s Lounge” (at least they didn’t take that ticket away from me) to get free drinks. I was sober the night before, but tonight I wasn’t driving, so I decided to double up on the beverages.
I was getting excited to seen Kendrick Lamar take the stage. For anybody who has asked me recently, I’ve been saying that my two favorite hip-hop album purchases in the past year have been Killer Mike’s “R.A.P. Music” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”. I remember the first time I popped in “Good Kid”. It was the first CD I unwrapped in the Amoeba records garage, I popped it in, and started a weekend commute. I didn’t have to fast forward over any tracks. After the disc restarted, I listed to the tracks 2-4 at least two more times: “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”, “Backseat Freestyle” and “The Art of Peer Pressure”. Solid production. Solid lyrics. Super dopeness.
I saw on the stage monitors that Kendrick was starting his set, so I asked to get my scotch topped off, and I head back to my seat. I had heard from various people that Kendrick’s live show could be, at times, boring, but I would have to beg to differ. Based on what I saw that evening, I saw Kendrick perform with a sense of immediacy. Maybe it was because he was performing in front a hometown crowd, or maybe he’s just evolved his stage presence through the relentless tour he’s been on this so far this summer, but whatever the impetus, he was deep into the performance, spitting out lyrics and meaning with every breath. With the live band providing solid support, Kendrick killed his set. The comedic highlight when Mike Epps danced around on stage had everybody rolling off their seats.
I again went back to the Chairman’s Lounge to get another drink. By this point, I’ll admit, I was pretty tipsy. As I was ordering my drink, I saw Warren G. I’ve been around him before, but I think the scotch may have gotten to me. I approached him and started to blab about how much I loved his music. I told him that I was a huge fan of his album “In The Mid-Nite Hour” and that the tracks with Nate Dogg, “I Need A Light” and “In The Mid-Nite Hour” were, in my mind, classics. I fumbled around with my camera and we snapped a picture when he looked up to the stage monitor and noticed that Snoop had taken the stage. Looking at the TV he announced, “I got to go,” and with that he left the lounge in a hurry. He made it back in time for “Regulate”… that was a relief.
Snoop. He closed the night, and closed the night right. There’s not much I can say about Snoop’s sets. I mean, when you open up with Dr. Dre and perform “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” and “Next Episode”, you can seriously turn the lights up and leave, but Snoop knows how to keep a party going, and he brought onto the stage guest artist after guest artist while going through the most popular songs from his hip-hop hall of fame repertoire.
He performed “Same Damn Time” with Future. He brought up Ace Hood for “Bugatti”. DPGC staples Daz Dillinger and Kurupt were on stage for “Ain’t No Fun” and “Who Ride Wit Us”. Trinidad James and Problem also performed their own current hits. Snoop invited Wiz Khalifa up to the stage to perform Wiz’s newest single, and also slipped in a mention of “High School 2”.
It was the perfect way to close the evening. Snoop is one of the few hip-hop artists who can bring that much star power for an hour and a half set. It was probably more that most of the crowd expected, and Snoop made sure every damn of them got their money’s worth. Chuuuch.