Music festivals have become as commonplace as random social media challenges and midday Chipotle runs in this country, but the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival still reigns at as the ultimate place to make a statement (other than ESSENCE Fest, of course).
More than 100,000 people gather for the annual two-weekend festival each day, and this year they were treated to more representations of melanin than ever as Black artists across genres took the stage.
This year’s lineup welcomed Black performers looking to honor their culture, communities, and their loved ones, including the late Nipsey Hussle. Even Diddy and Made made an appearance onstage thanks to headliner Ariana Grande.
Each performance had a unique aesthetic that ranged from neon-laced futuristic backdrops to disco-inspired funk sounds. Acts also used the occasion to put the power of their celebrity towards saying something important while claiming their own space in the festival’s legacy underneath the desert sun.
A livestream was present to capture all of the fun, but we’ve got details on everything that went down in case you missed it.
Childish Gambino Reflects on Death
Headliner Childish Gambino gave a moving performance where he performed his hits, including “Late Night In Kauai,” “This Is America” and even did a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s 2006 hit “Crazy.”
Gambino, wearing a scruffy beard, also dedicated a song to Hussle, “Riot,” before touching on his feelings about life and death onstage.
“I lost my dad this year, we lost Nipsey, we lost Mac,” he said from the stage. “What I’m starting to realize, all we really have is memories at the end of the day, that’s all we are. All we are really is data. You pass onto your kids, you can pass it on to your friends, your family.”
“There’s a hundred thousand of you out here right now,” Gambino continued. “There’s a good chance that some of y’all—at least one of y’all—won’t see next week. So, what I’m saying is while you’re here, while we’re here, feel something and pass it on.”
Janelle Monae Brings Out Lizzo
Monae thrust her holographic-inspired leggings up against Lizzo’s white shorts as the crowd went crazy.
Before that however, Monae performed songs from her latest project, including “I Like That” and “Django Jane.”
Jaden Smith Gets Out Of This World
Jaden Smith expressed a distaste gravity during his set.
Not only did he perform hits, including “Ghost,” on top of an elevated white Tesla, he showed off his own hops by performing his biggest hit to date, “Icon.”
Smith even took a second during his set to thank his famous parents for their continued support.
Anderson .Paak Has Album Release Party At Coachella
Anderson .Paak played a special rendition of “Dang!” and dedicated it Nipsey Hussle and his friend the late rapper Mac Miller.
The musician lead the crowd in a spirited call and response as they became enveloped in “Nipsey blue” lights during the track’s intro.
“And if you got someone you love say we love ya, say we miss ya,” he called out from behind his drum set.
.Paak, who also released his latest album Ventura last weekend, also performed his hits during his yellow-themed set, including “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance,” “Come Down” and “‘Til It’s Over.”