J. Cole Rappers With Their Own Festivals

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9 Rappers Who've Launched Their Own Festivals: J. Cole, Drake And More

  /  06.17.2024

It’s impossible to discuss the history of Hip Hop in its entirety without mentioning the importance of live music. Traditionally seen as performers and producers, many of the genre’s favorites are now orchestrating large-scale events like festivals that reflect their artistic visions and cultural influences.

Before establishing their own events, big-name acts like Travis Scott, J. Cole and Drake all drew inspiration from their experiences at other major gatherings, essentially recognizing the potential to create something uniquely aligned with their listeners.

For example, JAY-Z’s Made In America has merged musical performances with social activism even a decade after its inception, offering a venue for addressing issues such as criminal justice reform. There are also new players in the game, such as Jack Harlow’s Gazebo Festival and Aminé’s The Best Day Ever Festival, both of which launched — or will launch — in 2024. Check out the best rapper-owned celebrations below.

1. J. Cole’s Dreamville Fest

Dreamville Festival was initially scheduled to debut in 2018. However, Hurricane Florence delayed its start until the following year. Hosted in Raleigh, North Carolina, J. Cole’s home state, the inaugural event saw performances from SZA, Big Sean, 21 Savage and Teyana Taylor, among others. 

The lineup typically includes a mix of high-profile and emerging artists in Hip Hop and R&B, including acts from Cole’s Dreamville Records, such as EARTHGANG, JID, Ari Lennox and Bas. The “Power Trip” hitmaker’s approach to curating the fête has proven to be a success over the years, especially considering how often his labelmates collaborate with one another. In 2023, attendees got to see Usher, Drake, Summer Walker and Burna Boy across the two-day fair.

2. Jack Harlow’s Gazebo Festival

Jack Harlow introduced his Gazebo Festival in 2024 at Louisville’s Waterfront Park. Taking into account Kentucky’s relatively small music scene, it brought major attention to the “Lovin On Me” creator’s hometown by combining big names and local talent. The inaugural lineup boasted an impressive roster including SZA, with whom Harlow co-headlined; James Blake, who performed a DJ set; and other notable artists, such as Omar Apollo, PinkPantheress, Vince Staples and Majid Jordan.

Unfortunately, the second day of its launch was canceled due to severe weather. “I’m grateful for our flawless first day and for the way this city came together,” Harlow said while reflecting on the occasion. Luckily, fans will have subsequent festivals to look forward to.

3. Tyler, The Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw

Inaugurated in 2012, Tyler, The Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw has evolved from a small-scale music event into a massive annual festival held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Originally conceptualized as a carnival alongside a music festival, it’s a go-to destination for fans of Hip Hop and alternative music.

The festival has consistently featured a diverse lineup, drawing from Tyler’s broad musical influences and connections. Standout performances have included artists like the late Mac Miller, ScHoolboy Q, ASAP Rocky, The Internet and Kehlani, alongside the “EARFQUAKE” hitmaker himself. The 2018 edition notably featured Kanye West and Kid Cudi headlining as Kids See Ghosts, whereas 2019 included a lengthy set from Juice WRLD.

4. JAY-Z’s Made In America

Made In America is arguably one of the most decorated festivals on this list, having launched in 2012 on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. Conceived by JAY-Z and produced by Live Nation, the occasion generally takes place every Labor Day weekend with the intent of merging culture, music and social progress.

Made In America’s bills are full of top-tier artists: Beyoncé headlined in 2013 and 2015, Rihanna took the stage in 2016, and Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar helmed in 2018. It’s one of those celebrations where fans can nearly guarantee they’ll get their money’s worth. Sadly, organizers canceled both the 2023 and 2024 events, with SZA and Lizzo initially serving as the banner acts for the former year.

5. Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival

Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival, named after his critically acclaimed third studio album, has become a major cultural jamboree since its inception in 2018. Held in Houston, Texas — the musician’s hometown — the event pays homage to the now-closed theme park that Scott visited as a child, providing a nostalgic yet innovative experience for attendees.

Considering how frequently the Cactus Jack rapper collaborates with other artists, there’s no surprise that the celebration was able to garner an impressive roster and elaborate stage designs. To date, artists such as Post Malone, Pharrell, Drake, Don Toliver, Ye and Young Thug have graced the Astroworld stages. However, with the 2021 iteration leading to 10 deaths and hundreds injured, its fate is very much in the air.

6. Pharrell’s Something in the Water

Pharrell launched Something in the Water (SITW) in 2019, originally set against the backdrop of his hometown, Virginia Beach. Designed to kick off the summer season, the festival not only celebrates music across a spectrum of genres but also includes cultural events and panels related to topics like technology, music and environmental sustainability.

The inaugural event featured an impressive roster, with sets from national acts like Migos, Pusha T, SZA and ASAP Ferg, alongside Pharrell himself. Due to its success, Something in the Water was poised to become an annual highlight. However, the 2020 and 2021 editions were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the 2022 event marked its long-awaited return — with performances from Clipse, Lil Uzi Vert and Usher — its subsequent year was cut short due to thunderstorms and a tornado warning.

7. Drake’s OVO Fest

Throughout the years, Drake has made the most out of October’s Very Own (OVO). The Canadian music star debuted a sneaker collaboration with Air Jordan, created brick-and-mortar stores selling merchandise, and, of course, started his own festival under the banner. First launched in 2010, each installment has seen the self-coined 6 God leverage his connections to bring a slew of A-list artists to the Toronto stage.

For instance, the 2013 edition featured appearances by Kanye West and The Weeknd, while the 2015 festival saw performances from Pharrell, PARTYNEXTDOOR and Future. Rihanna popped out for the 2016 event and, as to be expected, so have Drake’s Young Money counterparts Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj. With the “Hotline Bling” rapper continuously embarking on treks, balancing fatherhood, and more, only time will tell if concertgoers will get another OVO Fest.

8. Lil Wayne’s Lil WeezyAna Fest

Weezy F. Baby and the F stands for festival. Lil Wayne brought his annual affair to New Orleans in 2015, drawing industry giants such as Drake, Master P and a memorable reunion with the Grammy winner’s early group, Hot Boys. Over the years, artists like 2 Chainz, Scott and Megan Thee Stallion graced the stage, making sure that each event reflected the musical zeitgeist while staying true to NOLA heritage.

9. Aminé’s The Best Day Ever Festival

Aminé’s The Best Day Ever Festival was announced in early 2024, marking a major addition to Portland’s cultural calendar. Scheduled for Aug. 10 and 11 at the scenic Edgefield Lawn, the “Caroline” rapper enlisted the likes of KAYTRANADA, Ravyn Lenae, KARRAHBOOO, Toro y Moi and BADBADNOTGOOD. Interestingly, Aminé embarked on his “The Best Day Ever Tour” just two years before.

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