The 2023 ESSENCE Festival of Culture ended on high note, with some amazing artists blowing the roof off of the Superdome in New Orleans.
Janelle James, star of Quinta Brunson’s award-winning sitcom Abbott Elementary, served as host for the concert’s final night, and kept the crowd entertained with her witty remarks and perfect comedic timing. Shortly after 7:00pm, R&B sensation Muni Long hit the stage, performing some notable songs, as well as her hit single “Hrs & Hrs.”
Continuing with the trend of celebrating hip hop’s 50th anniversary, the iconic radio personality Angie Martinez emcee’d an all-woman tribute to the world’s most popular music genre. The medley was DJ by Spinderella, and featured Eve, Mia X, Trina, Salt & Pepa, and Remy Ma. Rapper and NCAA National Champion Flau’jae Johnson also showcased her lyrical ability following the Martinez-curated performance.
Tems would make her first appearance of the night after some words from James, and would again hit the stage with WizKid later on in the evening to add an exclamation point to their hit collaboration “Essence.” The late Magnolia Shorty was also celebrated during the evening, and the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club came to give the audience and HULU viewers a taste of the Crescent City, performing a live second line directly next to the main stage.
In what was a positive shock to the thousands in attendance, the incomparable Lil’ Wayne was the evening’s special guest. Before he walked out, you could feel the roars from everyone in the stadium. The New Orleans native performed hits such as “A Milli,” “Hustler Musik,” “Comfortable,” “6 Foot 7,” “The Motto,” and more. ESSENCE continues to be a catalyst of the culture by providing monumental moments like that year after year.
Megan Thee Stallion closed out the show, beginning with “Her,” off of last year’s Traumazine album. She also performed records such as “Plan B,” “Big Ole Freak,” “Savage,” and more. From the flagship artists of hip hop golden age to the stars of today, Black women were properly represented during the final night of the cultural staple that is the EFOC.
To this day, the ESSENCE Festival of Culture continues to push the envelope forward in so many ways. We all look forward to next year’s festival – see you all in 2024.