Courtesy Huffington Post Black Voices
As the concert portion of the 2013 Essence Music Festival kicked off on Friday night, The Huffington Post was live on hand to take in one of the country’s most important — and fun — festivals.
Brandy, LL Cool J, Jill Scott, and Maxwell got the party at Essence Fest started right with four stunning performances.
Brandy, whose first album came out almost twenty years ago, kicked things off with awesome renditions of her classics. From some of her earlier hits like “I Wanna Be Down, and “Sittin Up In My Room” to the more recent “Two-Eleven” offerings, Brandy’s show did more than just warm up the crowd.
While she clearly has plenty of hits of her own, the highlight of her show was without a doubt the three song medley she did covering her favorite Whitney Houston tunes. No one will ever be able to perform “How Will I Know,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” and “I’m Your Baby Tonight” better than the legend who originated them, but based on the crowd’s excited reaction, Brandy did a great job paying tribute.
Next up, LL Cool J brought a rare bit of Hip-Hop to the mostly R&B/Soul music festival with an hour long set of rap classics. Backed by super-dj, Z-Trip, LL’s set kept the crowd on its feet the entire time. There aren’t many DJ’s that can keep up with the pure, unadulterated energy LL puts into his performance, but Z-Trip, the 2009 recipient of America’s Best DJ award, matched LL’s energy with masterful precision and technique on the ones and twos. Together, the legendary DJ and rapper brought new life to LL’s “I Need Love,” “My Radio,” “Doin’ It,” and “Loungin’.”
In an unexpected twist at his set’s denouement, LL brought out Eric Sermon and Parrish Smith — better known as EPMD — for a bit of a reunion as they performed their 1990 collaboration, “Rampage.” In one of the night’s more fun moments, LL also brought 10 women from the crowd onto the stage to participate in a little dance off as the Commodores’ classic “Brickhouse” blared through the Super Dome speakers. LL ever-graceful, hugged, kissed and thanked each individually as they exited the stage, demonstrating how he earned the “Ladies Love” portion of his name.
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