Rites of Spring Performers
*Artist subject to change
Due to it being a music festival, no refunds will be given if changes to lineup have been made.*
Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, famous as 21 Savage and as the Slaughter King, is an American rapper and songwriter. A popular teen icon today, he is admired not just for his musical skills, but also for his incredible rise to name and fame from being a petty criminal on the streets. Having grown up in Decatur, the mean part of East Atlanta, Georgia, he started dealing in drugs when he was 14 years old. He arrived at the music industry quite late, in 2013 at 21 years of age. Investing the money he had earned in the years spent on the streets, he began recording at the renowned Patchwerk Studios. Soon he caught the attention of Key!, the mainstay rapper who has played an essential role in the ground-level movement of Atlanta’s hip-hop scene. Key! gave Shayaa some career advice and introduced him to music producers who were interested in investing in a fresh yet powerful voice. Thus petty criminal Shayaa became rapper “21 Savage” and went on to release tracks like ‘Drip’, ‘X ft Future’, ‘No Heart’, ‘Red Opps’, ‘Woah’, ‘Red Rag Blue Rag’, ‘Skrrt Skrrt’, and ‘Supply’ which became massive hits, accumulating millions in revenue. He has also collaborated with the likes of Gucci Mane, Young Thug, T.I, Playboy Carti, Metro Boomin, Future, Drake, and Meek Mill, just to name a few
The five piece band hailing from Nashville has released three albums: Cabaret (2012), Mountains Beaches Cities (2013) and Daybreaker (2015). They have appeared on Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Seth Meyers and Conan. Their music has also been featured in multiple commercial and TV placements, including BMW, Nashville, MLB, NFL and HBO Sports to name a few. A festival favorite, the band has performed at Bonnaroo, Coachella, Governor’s Ball, Hangout Festival, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Outside Lands and more. Daybreaker was recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville and produced by Jacquire King (Kings Of Leon, Modest Mouse, Tom Waits, James Bay). Fans can expect a new release from Moon Taxi in early 2017.
Big K.R.I.T. is a rapper’s rapper—clever with lyrics, nimble with rhyme flows, and generous with food for thought. But the Meridian, Mississippi artist, whose stage name is an acronym for King Remembered In Time, isn’t just here to wow you with his words; K.R.I.T. wants to be a voice for the people.
“A lot of times I made music, I hit ’em with the similes, the metaphors and it’s great, but how do I create the type of music that can really help somebody, that people can relate to?” says K.R.I.T., a savior of yesteryear’s countrified hip-hop. “Don’t get it twisted—my lyrical prowess is still very important to me, but I’m really understanding my place, what God wants for me.”
The former Def Jam recording artist is embarking on a new chapter in a career that’s been long beloved for his bars and unapologetically Southern sound. Now releasing music independently, K.R.I.T. has shed major-label presumptions and is set on delivering an accessible third full-length studio album that showcases a matured MC doing what he does best. “I’m talking more about love, being excited about life, understanding depression, vices and how we medicate ourselves for what’s going on,” says K.R.I.T. “And then I got the aspect of finally finding yourself and being happy.”
That journey began long ago, when the Third Coast representer born Justin Smith split time between home—painted with the soul tunes of Willie Hutch, Bobby Womack and Curtis Mayfield—and church, where he performed in the choir as a child. By 14, music crept to the forefront. K.R.I.T. took up poetry, soon flipping those rhymes into songs just like his rap heroes OutKast, UGK and Three 6 Mafia. He’d also started producing his own tracks on Playstation’s music creation program MTV Music Generator, using a makeshift at-home setup to record.
“It was a two-deck karaoke machine where I could play something out loud and then record through the other tape,” remembers K.R.I.T., who elevated to more sophisticated software and 16s as he got serious about his craft. A former high school baseball player, he moved to Atlanta after graduating to focus on music full-time. “I had to really grind—jumping on the Greyhound early morning and late nights to catch a showcase, holler at this DJ, network or promote my music.”
K.R.I.T. began making noise via local mixtapes and by peddling CDs out of his trunk, also selling beats to other artists to keep his lights on. Yet it took five years of hustle and flow before he was discovered by Cinematic Music Group founder Jonny Shipes in 2009. The following year, he signed with Def Jam Records and dropped his proud breakout mixtape Krit Wuz Here. Its heartier successor returnof4eva followed in 2011. “Krit Wuz Here was raw—experimenting with every sound that I grew up listening to and showing people I’m from Mississippi and I could really rap,” he says, looking back on the self-produced freebies. “On returnof4eva I had to tell you who I am, not trying to out rap the beat but just telling my story, giving quality content.”
The producer/rapper’s stock continued to rise as he dropped his anticipated 2012 studio debut album Live From The Underground, celebrating his Dirty South heritage alongside legends like Bun B, 8Ball & MJG, Big Boi, and blues icon B.B. King. “My grandmother put me onto B.B. King,” he says. “Working with him is definitely one of the biggest things to happen in my life.” He followed that release by hitting the features circuit, most notably stealing the show on A$AP Rocky’s 2013 high-stakes posse cut “1 Train” alongside the likes of Danny Brown, Joey Bada$$, and Kendrick Lamar.
All the while, K.R.I.T. geared up for his 2014 second LP Cadillactica, a conceptual project that imagines his subconscious as its own planet—complete with lowrider spaceships and his own big-bang theory. He expanded his sound by recruiting producers like Raphael Saadiq, Rico Love, DJ Dahi and Terrace Martin, opting for singing and live instrumentation in favor of samples. “I wanted to go more soulful, more intergalactic, more synthesized, experiment with concepts; it showed that I’d grown,” K.R.I.T. says. “That gave me even more courage to just do me.”
After years of making it cool to be Southern, K.R.I.T. is preparing a third album that covers both personal tumult—the dangers of chasing validation and importance of self-care—and troubled times as the U.S. is plagued by police brutality and social unrest. “This thing that we’re going through now isn’t new under the sun, and it’s probably not going to be the last time there’s so much inequality, so much hatred, so much violence,” says K.R.I.T., who’s enlisted Dj Dj Khalil, Mannie Fresh and Supah Mario for his upcoming project. “How do you create a song that puts people in a mindframe that they can overcome? I gotta say how I feel.”
He’s advancing musically as well, pushing the pre-existing aesthetics of his native region even further. “People know that when I give ’em something it’s going to be all-the-way right—it’s gon have a theme, a plot, and it’s going to stand the test of time,” says K.R.I.T. “It’s the perfect time to create a different kind of wave of what you even think Southern, country, soulful music is.”
Soulja Boy Tell Em (born DeAndre Way) is a Grammy nominated and BET Award winning artist and a seasoned businessman, wielding all the hit making requirements: live entertainer, recording artist, music producer and entrepreneur. Soulja Boy has helped redefine the music industry by utilizing social media and engaging with fans. Before the age of 18, his self-published single “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and it later became a number-one Billboard hit in the United States for seven weeks. After the success of spreading his music through the Internet in 2004 and establishing his Stacks On Deck Music Group, he’s continued to be a pioneer in the music industry, manage a record label and create a clothing line. Throughout his career, Soulja Boy has definitely been a pioneer in music, being one of the first to use the internet to propel and maintain a strong fan base, creating history in the music industry and the way we digest media.
Most recently heard on the radio, Soulja Boy has collaborated with Nicki Minaj (“Yasss Bish”), Drake (“We Made It”) and Migos (“Actavis”) to create. His next project King Soulja 5 is slated to be released in early 2016.
Jamila Woods surrounds herself with the things she loves, things like Lucille Clifton’s poetry or letters from her grandmother or the late 80s post-punk of The Cure. “It’s just powerful to me to know the lineage and influences going into the making of the song,” Jamila says. That lineage–fragments of her life and loves–helped structure the progressive, delicate and minimalist soul of HEAVN, her debut solo album released in the summer of 2016. “It’s like a collage process,” she says. “It’s very enjoyable to me to take something I love and mold it into something new.”A frequent guest vocalist in the hip-hop, jazz and soul world, Jamila has emerged as a once-in-a-generation voice on her soul-stirring debut. Hailed by Pitchfork as, “a singular mix of clear-eyed optimism and Black girl magic,” HEAVN is the culmination of more than two decades’ worth of musical performances, creative remixing, haunted memories and her unique “collage” writing process. “I think of songs as physical spaces,” Jamila says. “Writing a song feels like decorating my space with things that make me happy or reflect who I am.”The message of HEAVN, the album, and Jamila, the musician and poet, are clear: all parts strengthen the whole. Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, Woods grew up in a family of music lovers. She was a member of her grandmother’s church choir as well as the Chicago Children’s Choir and often sat next to her parents’ speakers, singing along to their sizeable music collection while surrounding herself with things she admired.But it took a surprise poetry class with the high school arts program Gallery 37 for Jamila to finally find her metaphorical and literal voice. “Through poetry, I realized you are the expert of your own experience,” she says. “You can tell your story the best and no one else can tell it for you. You can focus on what you lack, comparing yourself to other people, or you can focus on what you can do right now with your voice.”
Her interest in poetry grew with age, taking her to Brown University, where she often participated in open mics. But music still lingered in the background even if she wasn’t necessarily confident of her skills. “I definitely always wanted to be a performer or be a singer,” Jamila said. “I always had that in my mind, but I didn’t think I had the voice of a solo artist.” She joined the acapella group Shades of Brown where she learned how to arrange music for her peers. It became a skill she later utilized when crafting her own songs. “I thought about the parts everyone would sing and that really influenced the way I started to write songs,” she offers.
Music–like poetry– is personal, she says: “It became a way to stop hiding, to actually be the most honest with myself through writing. It helps me check in with myself.” And that honesty translated to HEAVN, an album she describes as a collection of, “nontraditional love songs pushing the idea of what makes a love song.” Here, you’ll find the bits and pieces of her past and present that make Jamila: family, the city of Chicago, self-care, the black women she calls friends.
In 2016, Chicago-based hip-hop label Closed Sessions released HEAVN. Working with Closed Sessions gave Jamila a home to help craft a complete, singular body of work. “That’s been the coolest thing,” she says. “Just being connected with so many people in Chicago. I like that they’re local.”
HEAVN features a variety of producers, including oddCouple, a fellow Closed Sessions signee who produced five of the album’s 12 tracks. “Working with oddCouple was when I really started thinking of [HEAVN] as an album,” she adds. Other producers on the album include Peter Cottontale and even Jamila’s sister. In 2017, Jamila partners with Jagjaguwar and Closed Sessions to re-release the critically-acclaimed HEAVN.
On the album’s title track, which samples the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” Jamila explores how black people’s history influences their ability to love each other. “How do we love in our current situation, with the everyday violences we have to endure?” she asks. “Holy” connects to Jamila’s life growing up in church, sampling a gospel song and utilizing a psalm structure to talk about self love. “In church, there was a lot of emphasis on love–like love your neighbor, love God–but not self love,” she says. “When I wrote ‘Holy,’ I wanted to remember to take care of myself. It was an affirmation mantra for me.”
Elsewhere, Jamila plays with contrast to tell a bigger story. On “VRY BLK,” she uses black girl hand clap games to talk about police brutality. “It might sound innocent, but it’s really not,” Jamila says. “BLK Girl Soldier,” a song Jamila describes as a partner to “VRY BLK,” focuses on solidarity. “It’s very prideful,” Jamila says. “I’m talking about this violence that happens, but not staying in a place of feeling victimized.”
Jamila is an artist of substance. Her music, crafted with a sturdy foundation of her passions and influences, gets to the heart of things. True and pure in its construction and execution, it is also the best representation of Jamila herself: strong in her roots, confident in her ideas, and attuned to the people, places and things shaping her world.
It never fails. The moment you hear a distinctive voice, it pierces right through and stays with you. Ari Lennox possesses such a voice.
Early fans of the Washington, D.C.-bred singer-songwriter became clued in three years ago when they began repeatedly clicking onto YouTube to hear her refreshing, laid-back vocals on soulful covers of songs by Coldplay, Fantasia, Blink 182 and finally her own track “La La La La.” The buzz grew following the release of “Backseat” featuring Cozz—her first single after being signed to Dreamville/Interscope in late 2015.
Now it’s time for everyone else to catch up. And that will happen with the release of Lennox’s PHO EP. Then everyone will learn that besides her unique vocals, Lennox isn’t afraid to unleash what’s exactly on her mind. Take “Backseat,” for instance, in which the female is the one shifting the romantic gears in the relationship to get what she wants physically.
“While the music is soulful,” explains Lennox, “I’m also talking about something suggestive and unusual for a young female. Sometimes women are put in this box where we’re only supposed to talk about certain things. I want to be braver and riskier. I think people want to hear that kind of honesty and frankness.”
Being brave and taking risks is how Lennox has always approached her craft. While her high school friends were talking about college and joining the military after graduating in 2009, she knew only one thing absolutely: “I wanted to do music.”
While growing up in the D.C. area, Lennox came by her love of music thanks to her parents and grandmother. They introduced their youngest daughter to a diverse array of artists ranging from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Minnie Riperton to John Legend, Common, Whitney Houston and D’Angelo. Her grandmother was a casino singer whom Lennox describes as having a “breathtaking, Diana Ross-type vibe.”
Of her own singing, which began in church and later segued into talent shows, Lennox says, “I knew I had something. But I also knew that I had to work hard to get something from it.” That work ethic translated into stints at open mike nights and “any competition I could find,” notes the singer who at one point auditioned for American Idol. She even took a bus out to California in pursuit of her musical voice. “I was a young wild child with no plan,” says Lennox. “But I came to Los Angeles anyway to try and make it. But it didn’t go well.”
Then the tide started to turn in 2013 when, having moved to New York, she teamed up with producer Dave James to release Ariography, her self-reflective EP featuring the buzz track “La La La La.” But then, as Lennox recalls, the “hype died down a little” and she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where her family had relocated.
It was here that the singer started working on herself “mentally and musically,” writing and posting songs on Soundcloud. That’s when Lennox began locking in her unique sound. “I call it modern, relaxed, new soul,” says the singer. “It’s just chill with today’s hip hop vibes.” As for my voice, it’s vulnerable and soulful; imperfect but pretty.”
Soon after Lennox found her sound, J. Cole and Dreamville came calling. “On my first day working at a local public storage company, I received a call saying that Dreamville wanted to fly me out to California,” recalls Lennox. “I was terrified the whole way but I was determined that this could change my life.”
And it has. In addition to the forthcoming PHO EP—which examines the ins and outs of romance—Lennox is putting the final touches on her solo album debut. She promises the yet-untitled project will be filled with encouragement. “I’m finally tying meaningful messages and romance together—something I’ve always wanted to do.”