Raleigh, North Carolina – Ari Lennox called it “the best festival ever”. TI told people to turn on a light for the “North Carolina Dream.”
The Dreamville festival ended on Sunday evening, with the last performer also being the creator of the festival – J.Cole.
Cole, who was born in Germany but grew up in Fayetteville, designed the music festival as a “family reunion”, according to the guidebook given to the thousands of attendees who descended on Dorothea Dix Park over the weekend.
In his Sunday night performance, Cole noted that he might have handed out a mixtape to some people in the crowd before becoming a Grammy-winning rapper.
Cole performed beloved hits from the previous 2014 album Forest Hills Drive, which is named after Cole’s childhood home in Fayetteville.
During the performance of “Nobody’s Perfect,” when he sang the lyrics, “Look mama we made it,” Cole could be seen shaking his head and taking the weight of the lyrics in the moment.
Even with the rise to fame, Cole, who has won the BET and Billboard Music Awards in addition to having all five of his albums certified platinum, still seems to keep his North Carolina roots in mind.
Shortly after performing the first song of his set, Cole asked festival organizers to turn on the lights so he could see the depth of the crowd. As the lights came on, Cole asked how many people were from North Carolina, and more specifically, how many were from Fayetteville.
But Cole also seemed impressed with how far some spectators traveled to attend the festival. A participant in front of the Shine stage caught Cole’s eye – stating that he had traveled over 3,000 miles for the festival and asked Cole to sign an item,
Without hesitation, he asked the production staff to bring the participant’s article to sign.
For the second half of Cole’s hour-long performance, several artists signed to Cole’s label, which bears the same name as the festival, joined him on stage.
Throughout the weekend, the Dreamville Festival showcased the talents of artists signed to the label. Dreamville artists Earthgang and JID performed on Saturday while Ari Lennox performed on Sunday before J.Cole.
Cole also had other North Carolina-based artists in the festival lineup. One of the first performers at this year’s festival was Jacksonville native Mikhala Jené.
She described the festival as “a moment, not just for North Carolina, but for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Lil Baby was the final performer on Saturday night.
As the world begins to return to big events, several artists have told the Dreamville crowd how grateful they are to be able to return to the stage.
“It’s a blessing to be back here,” said Bas, who was Dreamville’s first signer.
J.Cole’s influence was noticeable throughout the festival site. On a wall dedicated to writing inspirational messages, several post-its featured J.Cole’s lyrics, including “Martin Luther King Would Have Been on Dreamville” from J.Cole’s song No Role Modelz and “love yourself girl or no one else will” from his song Crooked The Smile.
As fireworks lit up the sky to mark the end of the festival’s second year, J. Cole looked down at the crowd and simply said, “See you next year.”