Female Performers Dominated Essence Festival’s Day Two
On the second night of the Essence Festival, it was truly all about the ladies.
Xscape kicked off the night with a string of their hits, followed by Queen Latifah, who first regaled the huge crowd with a string of jazz standards. But things got way more hip-hop about halfway into her hour and a half into her set.
The Queen paid tribute to her fellow queens of rap, bringing out Remy Ma (who showed a hint of her baby bump in a yellow leotard and tight jeans) to perform “Lean Back.” Remy then paid homage to Missy Elliott, who burst onto the stage with a gaggle of dancers to perform “Work It,” and “Get Your Freak On.”
Queen Latifah also brought out Monie Love to perform their song “Ladies First” and later Brandy, Yo Yo and MC Lyte for their remix of “I Wanna Be Down,” which had the entire stadium singing along.
Next up were the “Queens from Queens,” Salt N Pepa, who had the audience bopping along to “Shoop,” “What A Man,” and “Push It.”
The queens of rap helped rev up the crowd for an emotional, stirring performance from Mary J. Blige.
Blige, who looked amazing in two custom-made Gucci costumes, was clearly still reeling from the aftermath from her messy divorce from her former manager Kendu Isaacs.
Before she sang her 1997 hit, “Everything,” she reflected on love and loss: “I will never call another human being my everything ever again,” Blige told the crowd. “I don’t want to create a monster. But God is my everything, he’s all I got, and he gave me y’all a long time ago, so guess what that makes you? My everything too!”
But Blige said she was moving forward despite what she’d endured.
“Ya’ll heard about me,” she said. “I’m grateful that I’m through. To be in the aftermath is crazy. When you find yourself in some places where you’re like, ‘he way, way, down,'” before she launched into her song “I’m Going Down.”
The Essence Festival is sponsored in part by Ford, My Black Is Beautiful, McDonalds, Coca-Cola and the New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network.
Hit the flip for more pics from Essence Day Two: