In exactly 53 days, the Super Bowl will (finally) commandeer downtown Atlanta.
The week leading up to the NFL’s biggest night is already crammed with concert, sports and lifestyle events — with more on lockdown until prime announcement time.
But one of the most anticipated music events — the three-night Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest at State Farm Arena — has already been unveiled with a genre-spanning lineup.
Atlanta’s hip-hop culture will be on display Jan. 31 when Ludacris, Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, Metro Boomin’ and Lil Jon take the stage; Feb. 1 brings a rock flair with Aerosmith (and Post Malone); and Feb. 2 will spotlight Bruno Mars and Cardi B. Tickets for all of the concerts are on sale now at ticketmaster.com.
Although Lil Jon spends about half of his year in Las Vegas as a resident DJ at several Las Vegas casino clubs, including Hakkasan at MGM Grand and Jewel at Aria, his heart is still firmly entrenched in his hometown — even if he had to become a dedicated Las Vegas Golden Knights fan in the absence of pro hockey in Atlanta.
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The rapper/producer/DJ, who recently opened a second school in Ghana with the Pencils of Promise charity to provide kids with a stable learning environment, checked in recently to chat about the upcoming festivities in Atlanta.
Q: You’ve been involved in several Super Bowl events over the years.
A: The Falcons brought me out to the Super Bowl (in Houston). I had to do the party that turned into a non-party, the we-don’t-like-Tom-Brady party.
Q: Have you thought yet about what you’ll do for your DJ set at this pre-Super Bowl concert?
A: I don’t know. For me, every gig is a little bit different because every audience is a little bit different. A real DJ caters to the crowd he has in front of him. For me, I get to the club earlier and I look at the crowd and listen to the DJ who comes on before me, to kind of catch a vibe and just watch. I’m playing what the people want to hear.
Q: You and Ludacris are very memorably linked on Usher’s “Yeah,” but how far back do you guys go?
A: We go back to 2000, when he was (a DJ) at Hot 97.5 (now Hot 107.9 on the air). I wasn’t on the radio at that time, but I used to be around a lot. Actually, it goes further back from that. Jermaine (Dupri) brought me a Luda demo tape at So So Def, so I’ve known Chris (Bridges — Ludacris’ real name) going way back. The last time we performed together, we were in Cleveland for a Cleveland/Golden State game, LeBron’s last game in the finals. But it’s great (performing) at home.
Q: Do you feel like this lineup — you, Luda, Migos and the others — will offer a fair representation of the Atlanta music culture?
A: I definitely think so. Migos is the biggest rap group in the world right now. Luda is a veteran rapper-actor. Me, I’ve been doing my thing.
Q: What do you think of some of these new guys, like Lil Yachty and Lil Baby?
A: Lil Baby is killing it right now. Yachty has continuously been doing his thing. These guys are doing their own things.
Q: Some of your peers are boycotting anything to do with the event. What made you feel differently?
A: It’s our hometown, we gotta. It’s rare when we’re able to showcase what we love about this city and showcase our city. I think it’s more about the city than it is anything else. The Super Bowl is the Super Bowl, but this is the city we’ve grown up in, we launched our careers in and the city we live in. It’s about showcasing everything we love about our city.
Q: I also don’t think people realize that the Super Bowl never has a performer connected to the city where it’s taking place. New Jersey didn’t have Springsteen or Bon Jovi, they had Bruno Mars, and Houston didn’t have Beyonce, they had Lady Gaga.
A: And Lady Gaga doesn’t necessarily fit with a Super Bowl audience. She’s a great performer, but the Super Bowl audience is not necessarily Lady Gaga’s audience. Super Bowl halftime performers are generally someone who touches everyone who watches the game. I think Maroon 5 is great. But we also don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, like who they’re gonna bring out with them.
Q: You mean like Cardi B, who happens to be performing the night before?
A: (Laughs) I just know they didn’t call me! I could have been there!
Q: Any predictions as to who you think we’ll see in the Super Bowl?
A: I try to watch as much as I can, but I’m in different time zones all the time. I’m really loving the Rams right now. I’m loving Kansas City right now. I don’t want to talk about the ‘aints (New Orleans Saints), though they got beat (recently). I don’t want to see the ‘aints in the Super Bowl. In the NFL, you never know who’s gonna be there. Like they say, it’s any given Sunday. It could be your day to lose.