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Day N Night Fest 2017: From Chance to Kendrick, hip-hop’s finest shine bright in the OC

Day N Night Fest 2017 - J.I.D

J.I.D

By Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman //

Day N Night Fest //
Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA
September 8th-10th, 2017 //

It’s not too often that you’ll walk past a crazed mosh pit of diverse youngsters on your way to church. Nor are we usually witness to strippers and party-friendly political disruption just a few minutes before a bold declaration of one’s self-reflection. Yet, it was this kind of contrast that led thousands to Orange County as music is the ultimate unifier, with hip-hop currently at its forefront.

Not ignorant to this, Day N Night Fest took its rap-heavy lineup outside Angel Stadium for its second go-round. Celebrating what was once thought to be a fleeting fad, attendees fought through heat, long lines and fatigue to keep the energy flowing consistently over three days.

The main stage served as the hub for the vigor — rising (19-year-old!) star Khalid took early precedence on Friday night, bringing pure joy, cheerleaders and raw emotion to the stage, effortlessly running through the hits on his breakout album American Teen. Closing out the first night was Travis Scott, fresh off his support slot on Kendrick’s “DAMN. Tour”, proving that he is worthy of his own spotlight with a voice that reverberated far past the edge of a crowd and at one point, his now-famous mechanical bird in conjunction with his latest LP Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.

Saturday, meanwhile, featured the vintage gospel spirit and warm vibes that have elevated Chicago emcee Chance the Rapper to superstardom. Earlier in the day, SZA, this summer’s breakout star, delivered her first festival performance since the release of her well-received debut album Ctrl. Swaying, spinning and singing her raw emotions and shortcomings while coming of age, the Top Dawg Entertainment songstress didn’t disappoint. And even after the old folks were admonished to the delight of the youthful crowd, they still danced to 23-year-old Lil Uzi Vert’s melodic pandemonium that was highlighted by his newest single “XO Tour Llif3” and him running and jumping everywhere imaginable.

As for Sunday’s main-stage performers, we were given the full sphere of Compton. YG drove us through his neighborhood and reminded us that his infamous “FDT” (aka “Fuck Donald Trump”) sentiments he put on display last year at The Wiltern (read our show review here) still remain, but he danced, joked and ushered out exotic dancers with a live band behind him, throwing one hell of a political party that resonated with the diverse crowd.

Day N Night Fest 2017 - SZA


SZA

Later on, Kendrick Lamar essentially extended “The DAMN. Tour” for one more night on Day 3. Explosive with his confident self-discovery, K-Dot manned the stage by himself and dished out crowd-friendly tracks like “DNA” and “Element” before treating his longtime supporters to “Money Trees” from his Good Kid, M.A.A.D City debut and eventually closing the festival with literal fireworks following the smash “Humble.”

While the headliners thrilled as expected, it was at the side “Day” and “Night” stages where the festival’s biggest highlights were generated. J.I.D, the rising Atlanta rapper who is signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, absolutely thrilled during his set. Dazzling with his rapid-fire and agile flow, J.I.D showed off his ability to command a crowd with songs such as “General” and “EdEddnEddy” before jumping into the crowd for the tempo-changing hit “Never” that left the crowd chanting for “one more song!”

On the same “Day” stage, Canadian singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar expressed how much he loved being in California and those who flooded the smaller stage to express just how happy they were to hear him say that. Following the release of his well-reviewed Freudian project, the Toronto native was remarkable as he traded frenzied stage dives for some silky-smooth harmonies instead, taking us along his sonically beautiful journey that you will certainly know more about in the coming months.

Vic Mensa, Playboy Carti, Isaiah Rashad and Dom Kennedy were some other notable crowd favorites of the weekend. And though his crowd was far from massive, St. Louis’ Smino had one of the most energetic audiences all weekend, with attendees feverishly singing along to many of the jams off his stellar debut blkswn.

While its organization leaves a little bit to be desired, Day N Night solidified its spot this year as an expansive festival that seems to be growing with the culture. And if the insight of Migos is any indication, we have a bigger, brighter and even more explosive festival to look forward to next year.

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