Atlanta’s One Musicfest features ‘good music everywhere’ and much more

Ms. Lauryn Hill performs on the first night of the sold-out One Musicfest on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Central Park in downtown Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of One Musicfest)

Credit: OMF

Credit: OMF

Ms. Lauryn Hill performs on the first night of the sold-out One Musicfest on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Central Park in downtown Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of One Musicfest)

It might’ve taken Ms. Lauryn Hill 32 minutes past her original 9 p.m. set time to hit the main stage at ONE Musicfest, but she closed out Saturday night in line with the good times and vibes that festival organizer Jason “J.” Carter has brilliantly curated for 13 years.

Coming out dressed in a full but flaring zebra-print ensemble and tilted black fedora with a veil, the now mini-Afro-wearing Ms. Hill reimagined several staples from hip-hop trio The Fugees’ 1996 sophomore smash, “The Score,” and her own 1998 Grammy-winning masterpiece “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” with lots of fog, distorted lighting and projected imagery set to jam session musicianship.

The singer, songwriter, femcee and producer kicked off with “Final Hour” before “Everything is Everything,” “Lost One,” “Superstar,” “Ex Factor,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” She introduced (and hugged) her now grown son, his two children and three of her other five children after delivering “To Zion” with a bluesy twist and tribal drumming, immediately followed by “Fu-Gee-La,” “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” “Ready or Not,” Outkast’s “Roses” as a curveball, and “Doo Wop (That Thing).” She even threw in her exceptional guest verse on Nas’ “Nobody” with music followed by a cappella.

OMF, the largest urban music festival in the Southeast, was chock-full of opportunities to catch up with old friends, sing along to classic tunes, relive memories associated with those favorite songs and catch an occasional contact from apparent cannabis fumes.

As usual, Carter assembled quite an impressive lineup of diverse Black talent that reflects the current landscape of music and its past, but this created a problem for some fans throughout the day for the sold-out event. Carter, a veteran event producer and former nightclub owner with a robust, genre-spanning musical integrity, created a maddening overlap with the artists roster to kick off the first of this year’s two-day festival in Central Park: making it extremely hard to choose what sets to catch. Nonetheless, good music was everywhere.

At the exact same time as Ms. Lauryn Hill’s set, rappers Rick Ross and Gucci Mane were holding it down with their trap anthems on the other side of the park at the Toyota Stage. A black bandana-wearing Jeezy kept that same street-savvy energy on the main stage just before Ms. Hill: seamlessly performing “I Luv It,” Standing Ovation,” “Bottom of the Map,” “Peace Up (A-Town Down),” “Get Ya Mind Right,” “Trap or Die,” “Go Crazy,” “Trap Star,” Way Too Gone,”Lose My Mind,” “Put On,” “All There,” “Geeked Up” and his cameo appearance on Shawty Lo’s “Dey Know.”

R&B quartet Jagged Edge also took the main stage to do some of their features (The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Nasty Girl,” Nivea’s “Don’t Mess With My Man” and Fabolous’ “Trade it All”), ballads (“I Don’t Wanna,” “I Gotta Be,” “He Can’t Love U” and “Walked Outta Heaven”), uptempo cuts (“Where the Party At?” and “Let’s Get Married” remix) and surprise covers (Blackstreet’s “Before I Let Go” and Usher’s “Nice and Slow”). Grammy-winning singer Mya along with neo-soul performers Algebra Blessett and Anthony David preceded Jagged Edge.

The Freedom Stage featured prolific Bay Area rapper Larry June breezing through his night-drive-friendly, cowbell-heavy grooves like “Feeling Good Today,” “Let’s Drive to Vegas’ and “Dear, Snow” under the evening sky while Jeezy took the main stage. Singer Amerie graced Freedom Stage that afternoon with her infectious go-go-infused R&B nuggets like “1 Thing.” Nigerian singer/songwriter CKay also went after her.

Jamaican superstar Sean Paul heel-toed his way through paired music video clips for his notable cuts like “Gimme the Light,” “We Be Burnin” and “I’m Still in Love With You” on the Toyota Stage. R&B duo DVSN and singers Bleu and Lady Wray were among the Toyota Stage’s earliest performances.

The hill adjacent to the Toyota State was Vegan Village featuring several Slutty Vegan food trucks and a Slutty Vegan Stage featuring performances by Sevyn Streeter, Phony Ppl, Alex Vaughn, Kenneth Whalum and Dear Callie.

Between sets were over 100 food trucks, vendor stations, product sampling areas, 360 photo booths and selfie step-and-repeats. The Bacardi activation featured a manicure station.

Half of the tennis court facing the main stage was converted into a roller rink with a disco ball sponsored by BET. Producer Jermaine Dupri, who hosted OMF’s Welcome to Atlanta kickoff party at The Tabernacle on Friday night, laced up his skates and did a few routines on the black tiles with skate crews ATL Squad, Ride the Beat Sk8 Crew and Viroll.

One Musicfest had something the entire family could enjoy.

Even gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who had a station with crates of peaches feet away from the BET roller rink and the merchandise tent, pointed out the positive atmosphere and cultural influence associated with OMF.

Abrams calls Carter “an extraordinary civic leader who understands that music brings us together.”

“We win by showing up,” Abrams said. “ONE Musicfest is an embodiment of what it means to be in Georgia. This is a community of diversity, but also of intention. People are happy, they are excited but they know they deserve more. I’m here because I want to be where the people are.”