Juvenile added to 2023 Essence Fest lineup after calling out organizers

Juvenile performs at BUKU Music and Art Project at Mardi Gras World on Friday, March 10, 2017,...
Juvenile performs at BUKU Music and Art Project at Mardi Gras World on Friday, March 10, 2017, in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)(Amy Harris | Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 11:57 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (NOLA WEEKEND) - New Orleans rapper Juvenile announced he will join the 2023 Essence Fest lineup after recently calling out organizers for excluding him from their 50th anniversary of hip-hop celebration.

Juvenile posted a flyer on social media promoting his upcoming performance at Essence Fest on June 30.

“Hip-Hop 50 without Juvie? Not a chance. June 30th, NOLA we live!” the rapper said in the post.

Earlier this month, the rapper took to social media to criticize organizers for not including him in the lineup. In a post that has since been deleted the rapper said, “How is essence doing 50 years of hip hop in New Orleans without me??? "

The 2023 Essence Fest evening concert series returns to the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans from June 30 to July 3.

Hip-hop takes center stage at this year’s Essence Festival of Culture as the event commemorates the 50th anniversary of the genre. This year’s lineup also marks the first to feature all Black women in hip-hop as headliners -- Ms. Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and Megan Thee Stallion.

One set curated by Jermaine Dupri, called “The South Got Something To Say”, features other notable rappers from the south, primarily Atlanta: Big Boi, Gucci Mane, Lil Jon, Ludacris and T.I. However, no New Orleans rappers were featured in the set.

The only local talent included on the roster originally was Mia X, who will join a tribute to 50 years of women in hip-hop curated by rapper and radio personality Angie Martinez.

On the same day Juvenile announced his performance, Essence Fest organizers released a lengthy statement emphasizing its long-standing relationship with New Orleans and its commitment to the community.

“Whether it be the celebration of Hip Hop femcees like New Orleans native, Mia X, who has previously been announced, or special surprise performances from local Hip-Hop artists that should not be missed, along with our all Crescent City musical line-up during our Family Day celebration, the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana will be well-represented including Hip-Hop artist, Juvenile. We look forward to once again unapologetically celebrating BLACK during this year’s event,” the Essence Festival of Culture press team said in a statement.

Following his criticism of Essence Fest, Juvenile started promoting his own event, called Donna Fest, scheduled for July 2 at Urban South Brewery.

Urban South Brewery also recently released Juvie Juice, a collaboration with Juvenile producing a hard iced tea and lemonade drink.

In addition to Juvenile, the Donna Fest lineup features producer Mannie Fresh, Cash Money co-founder and rapper Birdman, Rebirth Brass Band, rapper T-Rell, comedian and host Rude Jude, and Young Juve, Juvenile’s son.

Organizers say the event also features a “color explosion war” where environmentally safe color powders, blasters and extinguishers will be actively utilized during the event.

Tickets for Donna Fest cost $25 and can be purchased via Eventbrite.