The festivities started on Thursday night with a concert/comedy show featuring Lecrae (a Christian hip hop artist), Trey Songz (who uncharacteristically stayed clothed much to my disappointment) and Kevin Hart who gave the sold out crowd exactly what they were looking for. The What Now Tour is hilarious and I strongly suggest seeing it live if you can or seeing it when Kevin sends it to the theater. If you see it live however be forewarned that his team & opening act “The Plastic Cup Boyz” are not in the same comedy genre as Kevin. Their jokes were in such poor taste (as in ridiculously sexist, racist, and discriminatory) that I didn’t find myself laughing…at all. It was bad. But those 3 stains on the night didn’t ruin everything. I was so happy to see Trey Songz & Kevin Hart in one night for one relatively low price (& the oxtails I had after were a perfect end to the night).
Unfortunately due to that barely shoestring budget that I live on, I wasn’t able to attend any of the other major musical performances throughout the weekend but watching the highlights and live streams when I could, I can tell you they were awesome.
I didn’t attend the festivities on Friday but I went to the Convention Center on Saturday to attend some of the free speakers that they had in attendance. Although I hated the crowds (which were massive), I loved being surrounded by so many inspiring and empowering Black people especially Black women. In fact, I was so entranced that I didn’t take pictures and videos like I hoped I would. Seeing the cast of Empire, hearing Iyanla Vanzant speak (which is so much more powerful in person), and attending the Steve Harvey Dating Show were some of the highlights of my day.
The Empowerment/Empower U speakers were really awesome. I like to keep things light on my blog, focus on the fun & positive things about life, but honestly I have been going through it lately. Being a grad student, broke, and by yourself in a new city really sucks. I have been going through a lot and hearing those speakers was really cleansing and reassuring for me. To hear real Black women (& men) who have come out on the other side of things much worse than what I’m going through and who are thriving, doing extremely well for themselves gives me hope and a new perspective that I really needed at this time in my life. Visit essence.com for event recaps. Recaps are popping up all over the internet actually. Search #essencefest on basically any social media to see what the weekend was like.
In this time of racial tension in this country, it was really great to come together with other Black people and be able to feel good about ourselves, to celebrate us, to celebrate our culture and reaffirm that we do matter. I am already stacking coins to be able to attend again next year. I really encourage everyone to read/view the recaps, watch the videos and plan for their own experience as well. I have this buzz after this weekend (& not from the cocktails lol) that I wish I could share with everyone. Go to Essence Fest 2016, you will not regret it.