Dungeon Family Reunion Highlights Atlanta's Star-Studded One Music Fest
ONE MusicFest photos taken by Vickey Ford (SneakShot) for Okayplayer.
Atlantans of every variety congregated to Lakewood Amphitheater for the 7th annual ONE MusicFest on Saturday, September 10. The urban-alternative fest boasted a stellar lineup which included the likes of The Dungeon Family, Ice Cube, Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Jazmine Sullivan and others. Of all the standout acts, The Dungeon Family, who were set to reunite after years of its members pursuing other endeavors, was the day’s most anticipated performance.
Things popped off with top-grade performances by BJ The Chicago Kid and Anderson .Paak. The latter gave an energetic roller coaster ride of a performance, belting tracks from his breakout album Malibu, the hype substance anthem “Drugs,” and collaborations with Canadian producer Kaytranada. The eclectic artist even, at times, hopped on the drums to show off his mad skills. Power 105.1’s Charlamagne Tha God recently said this of .Paak, “It’s gonna be fun watching you. I can see you being one of those real legendary musicians or you might just go crazy.” His performance precisely proved why if the artist stays on track he will become one of the industry’s greats.
Jazmine Sullivan joked late into her set that she was on the brink of losing her wig. It was that kind of performance — a soul-stirring singalong with strangers standing right beside you. Sullivan was a crowd favorite, performing fan favorites like the revenge anthem “Bust Your Windows” and more recent single “Let It Burn”.
Erykah Badu was tardy for her late-night party, but all of that became irrelevant after she softly cooed her first note. The soul queen started her performance with the piano-heavy “I’m A Fool For You,” and transitioned into the timeless Baduizm single “On and On”. She continued to run through her revered discography with “Love of My Life” and “Tyrone,” which had the crowd in a syncopated uproar from its opening keys. Not staying for Badu’s entire set, I glided over to catch the homegrown boys, The Dungeon Family.
When one thinks of Southern rap, The Dungeon Family — whether as individuals, or as a collective — always comes to mind. Every veteran artist brings their legacy with them on stage, but Dungeon Family’s presence felt different: since the East and West Coasts dominated rap during DF’s formative days in the 1990s, they had to build Atlanta’s reputation from the ground up. Seeing them reunite in the city where they laid the groundwork out was special, and the significance was recognized by everyone there.
So on the night of the collective’s long-awaited reunion, they basked in the moment. Joined by a live band, Goodie Mob and OutKast — including both Big Boi and the elusive André 3000 — ran through classics like “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Way You Move,” “Hootie Hoo,” “Black Ice” and “Trans DF Express”. Cee-Lo Green dedicated “Cell Therapy” to Khujo, the Goodie Mob member who couldn’t make it out. The collective went into full crew mode when performing Cool Breeze’s “Watch For The Hook,” which features each of the nine core Dungeon Family members. Badu and rock-blues singer Gary Clark Jr. also made appearances on stage with the collective, with the former performing her part on OutKast’s Aquemini highlight “Liberation”. Then there was Kilo Ali, who performed his late nineties hit — the one you never dare sing in the presence of your parents — “Love In The Mouth”. Even Bone Crusher and T. I. showed up, performing with Killer Mike for their remix of southern classic, “Never Scared”. Sleepy Brown and Cee-Lo Green both added their flair to songs with their irresistibly unique vocals. There was a lot going on, but in true Dungeon Family nature, it all worked beautifully.
It’s been a decade since The Dungeon Family had a get together of such epic proportions. Big Boi told the Associated Press that it was initially a hard task getting everyone on the same page, but rehearsals quickly reminded the bunch of their special bond. “It was like getting nine cooks in the Waffle House trying to fry an egg, but the egg tastes good as hell when we got it together. When we started rehearsing, it all came together.” The southern rap legends left an indelible mark on Atlanta, one that will be hard to ever tarnish. Just like in OutKast’s infamous Source Awards win, the South had something to say — and Dungeon Family continues setting the stage for the region to continue their musical dominance.
Andrea Dwyer is a Jamaican-born, Atlanta-based freelance writer who has written for Elixher and Super.Selected. You can find the latest and greatest from her on Twitter @MusingAndrea.