They say it’s going to rain, and yet I can’t be deterred. When you’ve experienced back-to-back years of your hometown festival getting moved elsewhere because of rain, you start making weather advisory posts as if they were second nature.
Soulquarius, the one-day super-festival where rap acts of the ’90s (DMX) can get their roses at the same time as big-named R&B acts of the same time period (R. Kelly, Monica, Brandy, Erykah Badu), has a chance of rain hanging overhead. I utterly don’t care if Orange County becomes Houston West and gets a bipolar weather pattern with all four seasons occurring within a 20-minute time period; I’m not missing this.
The Internet, who can boast that no fewer than three members have released solo albums in the past two weeks, were the initial ones to get the word out about the festival's existence.The Internet, who can boast that no fewer than three members have released solo albums in the past two weeks, were the initial ones to get the word out about the festival's existence. As I’ve written before, the lineup for this thing is worth missing a day of All-Star Weekend in New Orleans because it is that vast. It is far too big to fail, far too accrued to my senses and love of singing the most ridiculous songs to nobody in particular. At no point in human history going forward are DMX and Ja Rule going to be on the same stage or within a decent vicinity of one another unless it's at Hot 97’s Summer Jam. The Internet, who can boast that no fewer than three members have released solo albums in the past two weeks, were the initial ones to get the word out about the festival's existence. Whoever made the call to have Brandy & Monica not only perform 30 minutes apart, but on two separate stages, is a genius. Whoever decided to have a fantasy R&B lineup in which they could be serenaded by Jon B., The-Dream, Ro James and Lloyd deserves all the praise.
The lineup, which was revealed in mid-December, carries the subtitle "an R&B jam." But for a lot of people, in particular a lot of Houstonians who have booked flights to Los Angeles and Orange County, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This isn’t venturing all over the city looking for a select venue to catch different acts. It’s not hankering for a certain type of wristband or access. It’s placing three decades of R&B music in one venue not only to appease fans but also to showcase that the idea of a music festival hasn't completely died in a soul-sucking money grab operating as a vacation destination.
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What controversy has Soulquarius faced? Nothing, aside from the now-standard R. Kelly petition asking that the now 50-year-old singer be removed because of his sketchy, allegedly predatory past. Everything else, save for the thought of rain on Saturday, has gone smoothly. For once, a concert lineup sold itself. It promoted the idea to the world that R&B isn’t a dead genre being overrun by faux rappers. That vocalists, crooners and creators of more than a few bops can all have their time in the sun.
Take for instance Jon B. Earlier this year, he was the subject of an episode of Unsung, a where-are-they-now type feature on here-today, gone-tomorrow-type acts on TV One. Saturday, he’ll once more command a crowd and audience as if “Don’t Talk” and “They Don’t Know” were still perched high on the R&B charts. The same can be said for the Ying Yang Twins, two artists from Atlanta I championed in both middle and high school that peaked around “The Whisper Song” but managed to be key players in the Crunk era of hip-hop.
Soulquarius decided that its lineup should breathe life into not only our nostalgia but also our undying chance to be unique. To be different. No R&B lineup this year can boast this kind of lineup. Not one that reaches as far and wide. Even if it does rain something serious in Southern California, I’ll be two-stepping and singing Ja Rule duets and "Next Lifetime" as if I were embarrassing my significant other.
What’s more fun than being endearingly corny with somebody?