Oakland is a city nearly inseparable from hip-hop culture.
From the likes of Del the Funky Homosapien, Too $hort, and the late Bay Area icon Mac Dre, to E-40 and G-Eazy, the town has been home to rap legends spawning generations and styles.
This weekend, Oakland was once more treated to what could become another great tradition in the genre with Blurry Vision Festival, a two-day, outdoor event held May 12 and 13 at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.
The single-stage production, nestled directly across the frigid bay waters from the San Francisco skyline, presented by Los Angeles-based Goldenvoice—best known for the Coachella Music and Arts Festival among numerous other festivals and events around the country.
Day One opened strong with lyricists Roy Wood$, of Drake’s Toronto-based OVO Sound, and Top Dawg Entertainment’s Isaiah Rashad ramping up the energy. Each in full control of their intricate bars rattling over heavy underlying bass beats.
Following a soothing downtempo Majid Jordan, the Canadian R&B duo also of the OVO roster, the self-proclaimed boy band Brockhampton delivered a stunning, highly-emotional set oozing with the unique perspectives and attitude revealed in 2017’s Saturation album trilogy.
In the headlining spot, SZA brought the house down with her exuberant demeanor and serene vocals.
The first woman to sign to TDE back in 2013, the 27-year-old born Solána Imani Rowe broke into the limelight with her 2017 studio debut Ctrl along with this year’s smash single All The Stars, featuring and produced by teammate Kendrick Lamar off the Black Panther soundtrack.
Despite having pulled double-duty in the Bay Area with her Championship Tour performance on Wednesday, May 9, she captivated the crowd, relishing in the chance to play with her own band in quite some time Solána to close out the breezy night.
The Day Two schedule mirrored the previous day in its balance of harder rap with softer, yet equally powerful R&B styles.
Sunday also offered some greatly appreciated diversity.
Oakland-native Kamaiyah delivered an expectedly rowdy performance before Alina Baraz mellowed things out with her contrastingly tranquil while bass-heavy show.
The third and final OVO artist, DVSN, kept the melodic atmosphere Baraz generated alive but turned up the heat leading straight into the spectacle of NxWorries.
The combination of Grammy-nominated vocalist Anderson .Paak and producer Knxwledge recently released a remix project of their debut studio album Yes Lawd! and .Paak could not have seemed more invested or enthralled. He let loose his mile-wide smile between bursts of his raspy vocals backed by the slew of Knxwledge’s masterfully chopped and reconstructed beats.
After a few cliched call-and-response ques, DJ Durel had a request for the Oakland crowd that caught my attention.
“Can I get a ‘Yeah’ if you know the Migos are the greatest group on the planet?” the official DJ for the Atlanta super-trio called.
The Migos, made up of rappers Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset, have worked their way to the pinnacle of pop music culture, never wavering from their heavy trap style. And on Sunday night, they closed Blurry Vision with a clear showing of just how well-deserved their hype really is.
Working through their greatest hits including everything from Hannah Montana, Bad and Boujee, and Fight Night to Stir Fry, Motorsport, and Ice Tray, the crew were a perfect cap to the weekend.
Just prior to the Migos’ closing set, the crowd lost their minds when the eccentric beat of Mac Dre’s Feeling Myself came over the speakers.
The energy was a culmination of the passion this community holds for hip-hop. Blurry Vision was a fantastic way to express the city’s love for this genre and based on the success of this inaugural production, I won’t be surprised at all if it becomes a staple in the yearly calendar.
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