Updated: Sep 5, 2022
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Music festivals are a magical place that carry their own spirit. They are a place for like-minded people to gather and connect over music and activities, most of the time for several days. Hip-hop acts can certainly be found on Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Lollapalooza lineups, but some festivals are dedicated to rap music specifically. Here are some of the top events in the United States.
Located in: Los Angeles and Oakland; California; Queens, New York; Miami Gardens, Florida
The first Rolling Loud was held in Florida in 2015, and it's expanded to include other cities since. Currently, there are three stages at each festival, which have hosted artist such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, and Big Sean. It's not a camping festival, so patrons who aren't local usually stay in nearby hotels.
Located in: Raleigh, North Carolina
J. Cole is one of the biggest names in rap music, and he gives back to his city by curating Dreamville Festival each year. This one-day event has included acts such as J. Cole himself, 21 Savage, Kehlani, Lil Baby and many up-and-comers. To further celebrate Raleigh, the festival has local food, culture, and art.
Located in: Rogers, Arkansas; Dallas and Austin, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona; Mansfield, Massachusetts; Bay Area, California
JMBLYA has been the largest Texas hip-hop festival since 2013, though it occurs in various cities today. Money raised from the festival goes to benefit Music Forward and Grounded in Music, which are organizations that help provide access to music education. Past lineups include Lil' Wayne, Migos, Post Malone, and Chance the Rapper.
Hot 97 FM Summer Jam
Located in: East Rutherford, New Jersey
Summer Jam first kicked off in 1994, and it occurs yearly at MetLife Stadium. The party begins in the parking lot of the arena long before artists hit the stage at this one-day event. Performers of the past include Cardi B, Tory Lanez, Migos, Meek Mill, and A Boogie with da Hoodie.
Made in America
Located in: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z founded Made in America in 2012, and he still chooses the talent that performs. This unique festival includes amusement park rides and tons of activities along with the best rap has to offer. Artists from recent lineups include Doja Cat, Tyler, the Creator, and even Justin Bieber.
Located in: New Orleans, Louisiana
Lil' Wayne's annual rap festival takes place in his home town of New Orleans. The fest only lasts one day, but fans of Lil' Wayne are always sure to see him on the lineup. Other past performers include Trey Songz, Saweetie, and Tory Lanez.
Located in: Atlanta, Georgia
Complete with local food as well as more than 25 regional vendors, One Musicfest has taken place in Atlanta for a little over 10 years. It takes place outdoors for two days on three different stages. Across these stages, artists such as Nas, City Girls, Gucci Mane, and DMX have performed.
Something in the Water
Located in: Washington, DC
This three day festival is headed by Pharrell Williams. It used to take place at Virginia Beach, only moving to Independence Avenue in 2022. The lineup has historically featured an array of acts such as Roddy Ricch, Rae Sremmurd, Missy Elliot, and Jaden Smith.
Things to Bring
I've never attended an outdoor festival without bringing a CamelBak for water. These ensure you stay hydrated, which is important for avoiding heat exhaustion especially when you reach for beer all day. If you need to carry anything, most venues require clear stadium bags for easy monitoring.
So many people come from all over the world to attend festivals like these. And because I love rap, I have a bucket list that I plan to tick off as I'm able. Maybe this will help other rap lovers with their bucket lists as well.