Boom 94.5's Hip Hop Festival Celebrated the Past in the Midst of a Tumultuous Present

Boom 94.5 FM Hip-Hop Meets Zydeco and the Blues Festival With Bun B, Mystikal, Juvenile, Fair Park, Dallas Saturday, May 2, 2015

It may have been Mystikal who put things best on Saturday: "To all the youngins who don't know me," he said, "ya mamma know me. Ya auntie know me." And so it was in a country plagued by civil unrest, on a day after mass protests in Baltimore and through the national celebrations of May Day, that the people of Dallas gathered peacefully in Fair Park for the Boom 94.5 FM Hip-Hop Meets Zydeco and the Blues Festival. They were there celebrate their love for the South in all its diversity, for hip-hop and for some of their favorite performers of yesteryear. And it was sort of great.

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Yes, there were some bumps in the road for Boom 94.5's first music festival, which is to be expected for any entity putting on their first event. So yeah, there was no published schedule for that acts, many of whom switched spots at the last minute, and yeah that's something you sort of need to have with a music festival. Honestly, though, no one in attendance seemed to care. They were just having that fantastic of a time.

There really was a little bit of everything going on at Fair Park, all imbued with distinctly Southern-fried flavor. There was a mix of zydeco acts, who were honestly phenomenal, and legendary southern hip-hop artists who were taking the day to relive a bit of glory. Oh, and there was Southern food. God bless us all, was there ever Southern food. Crawfish was being boiled, brisket was getting smoked, and boudain balls were being fried.

Hell, legendary Houston restaurant Mattie's Famous Catfish made the trek up north and had a line that stretched for what seemed like forever. The Kool-Aid pickle was represented in 25 different flavors via Tatyanna's Pickle Palace. Between the food, the zydeco and the smell of herbal substances wafting in the air, it felt well and truly like being in the Dirty South. (Dallas is not the Dirty South, the Dirty South 38th parallel begins at Baton Rouge.) Weren't no plastic tips were being smoked either; wood tips only.

While the crowd was into Brian Jack & he Zydeco Gamblers, they mostly remained seated, and under their tents, hiding away from the sun. But, all of that went out the window the moment Mystikal took the stage.

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Mystikal is a hard artist to come to grips with. Fellow Southern hip-hop legends like Juvenile and Houston's Bun B also took the stage throughout the day, but none embodied the climate of the times quite like the New Orleans rapper.

He had a hand in changing the sound of hip-hop at the turn of the century, when he started to incorporate elements of jazz and swing into his work. Mixing these elements with his distinctive cadence and trademark growl, he created one of the greatest albums in the history of the genre. From there he rode high as a guest on many of the eras biggest hits. And then it all went away when he was convicted for sexually battering his hairdresser, forever tarnishing his legacy.

Yet, much like Floyd Mayweather later in the night, Mystikal would find that there were still several who would forgive his misdeeds in favor of them having a good time. It's troubling how willing we are to forgive such behaviors in favor of a fleeting moment of joy, how quickly we allow an isolated memory to obscure harsher realities. And yet the crowd lost its damn mind when the rapper took the stage.

It didn't just lose its mind, it got up, it danced, it crowded the stage and it sang along to all the hooks Mystikal touched on during his medley. Time blurs memories, and time allows people to forgive trespasses of others. Mystikal is on Mark Ronson's new album; pop culture has glossed over his issues because they see value in having him around. It's another shameful act in the cultural zeitgeist of America: We move on from things if it benefits us, and we do it with our entertainment more than any other area of our lives.

There were plenty of other highlights to the day, but Mystikal's set was brought sharply into focus as its finish was met by a mass exodus. ("Gotta catch the fight, bro," I was told by one very stoned dude.) Those who remained rode the wave of energy into Sir Charles Jones' set on into that of the one and only Bun B, the Trill OG. While it would be easy to say that you know what you're getting from the UGK member at this point in his career (he plays every fest in the state that's not put on by ACL or KXT), it would be underselling how genuinely exciting it was to see such a legend still operating at such a high level.

But on this day that brought so many people together, it was hard to escape how everyone celebrate and sang along to a man convicted of sexually battery, only to run off that night to drop an insane amount of money to watch a domestic abuser perform in a ring. We do so because we care more about our entertainment than we do about the past. It's a shame, but it's purely American. Maybe someday we'll change that.


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