Smokin Grooves was expected to be great from the moment they released the lineup. If you’re a fan of classic neo-soul R&B, funk, or hip-hop, this festival is for you. The bill included many who were groundbreaking to music and music history, as artists like India.Arie and Musiq Soulchild took us to our nostalgic childhood moments. Then there were newer innovators such as Miguel, Jhene Aiko, and Thundercat who music-lovers couldn’t help but see live in action. Not to mention how beautiful it was to see how newer artists like Hiatus Kaiyote being inspired by innovators like India.Arie.
On Saturday, March 10th, it was anticipated to be a cloudy day in LA but even the universe knew. The sun was shining all the way until it was time to go home, as the festival commenced at LA Historic Park, a beautiful and spacious outdoor venue in the heart of the city. People from all over the world arrived just for Smokin Grooves, from London to Berlin to Brooklyn.
One notable moment was Miguel sighted with his long-time wife Nazanin Mandi. While the couple announced their split back in 2017, it seems things are all back to normal in the couple’s affectionate relationship. As Miguel took the stage, he brought all the vibes with a guitar heavy performance. Meanwhile on the hip-hop tip, Nas had everyone vibing with his new and classic hits, from “Ultra Black” to “If I Ruled the World.”
But with Erykah Badu being the headlining artist and grand finale, day one fans were left disappointed. Amidst the audio and sound technical difficulties, Badu began her performance with “Hello,” pairing it with amazing visuals. Unfortunately, her performance ended in 20 minutes.