With over 100,000 people concentrated at the Empire Polo Club for Weekend 1 of Coachella 2019, you couldn’t imagine that silence spoke louder than words.
YG, the Compton rapper who renamed his debut appearance “Boachella ’19,” told the crowd at the Sahara Tent that he just lost one of his closest friends. He, like many others, is still coping with the death of Nipsey Hussle, a rapper who touched many lives for his community activism and empowered others to be black entrepreneurs, as well as his music.
“We gotta have a moment of silence for my nigga Nipsey Hussle,” YG said midway through his set on Sunday. He counted to six before it went completely quiet. It gave you chills just being there to witness him be so open and vulnerable over Nipsey’s passing last month. “Nipsey, I love you nigga. The marathon fucking continues,” he said, a nod to Nipsey’s TMC movement.
YG dedicated his entire performance to Nipsey, etching himself in a history of Coachella moments that have been happening for 20 years. He talked about having conversations with Nipsey about doing Coachella, giving him high praise as “black motherfucking Jesus.” He wore a black vest that had Nipsey’s face airbrushed on it. He performed “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” a throwback Just Re’d Up mixtape cut featuring Nipsey Hussle and Tyga, who came out to do his verse. YG told Tyga after the performance they had to help hold down the West with DJ Mustard, among other important players who are moving West Coast hip-hop forward.
For some attendees, it was an emotional week heading into Coachella. After Nip’s memorial service celebrating his life at the Staples Center with a 25-mile procession going through several neighborhoods in LA on April 11, his death casted a positive light over Coachella, where dedicated Nipsey fans found their own ways to keep his spirit and memory alive.
During your walk to the festival grounds, you could hear pedicabs blasting Nipsey’s music. At any party, you were likely to see at least one person wearing a Nipsey Hussle in memoriam tee or something from his The Marathon Clothing line. Once a DJ played a Nipsey joint, it elevated any day party or afterparty.
It extended to the performers at Coachella, too. He was honored by Childish Gambino and Anderson .Paak, who both also mentioned Mac Miller in their tributes, as well as Kid Cudi, who dedicated “Pursuit of Happiness” to the fallen rappers. Jaden Smith called him a “legendary MC.”
Every time fans had reason to believe he was down, YG lifted us up again with more honest dedications to Nipsey Hussle, paying homage to him throughout his set. His setup for “FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)” was done by a man posed as President Donald Trump, saying every racist and problematic statement that has made news headlines during his tenure. The hatred for Trump gave people valid reasons to flip their middle fingers, but YG would later channel that anger into creating a party atmosphere, performing “Big Bank” with 2 Chainz and Big Sean. “Rest in peace, my nigga Nipsey Hussle!” he said one last time, before being lowered through the stage.
Over 72 hours in the Palm Springs area, the goal was to execute a perfect balance of attending Goldenvoice and Corso Agency’s first outside programming at the Zenyara Estate, some cool parties with celebs, and a bit of ‘Chella to complete the experience. It’s a matter of curation and fan loyalty, which is why making the trek to see YG is just as important as hanging out with Juice WRLD at the Palm Springs Air Museum for his new capsule with Suzuki.
One highlight was the adidas Sport Club, celebrating the idea of bringing the best athletes, designers, and partners in one place, which was held at the Zenyara Estate on Friday. In keeping with the theme of high luxury, the 37-acre Coachella sanctuary boasted perks like a 40,000 sq. ft. residence, basketball court, a lake with a beach to relax on, and more. Candace Parker and Pusha-T were among the athletes and entertainers who came through to mingle with others lucky enough to get an invite.
On Saturday, Levi’s hosted their Party in the Desert at the Sands Hotel and Spa with special DJ sets from Snoop Dogg, Yaeji, and St. Vincent. The event had customizations for Levi’s jackets, T-shirts, and tank tops, including screen printing, embroidery, and tie-dye by Ev Bravado. Some celebrities who made appearances were Karrueche and Victor Cruz, Jordyn Woods, and Jaden Smith.
Later that afternoon, Revolve Festival, the brand’s biggest festival activation that draws influencers and celebrities alike, took over the Merv Griffin Estate. Revolve partnered with Top Dawg Entertainment to host a label showcase that featured Zacari, Reason, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, SZA, and special guest 2 Chainz. Backed by their DJ, MixedByAli, Q and Rock brought the energy of the crowd up, ripping through their biggest songs in back-to-back, concise sets. Q performed his new singles – “Numb Numb Juice” and “CHopstix” – for the first time at a Coachella adjacent event. Rock wowed the crowd with his bangers “Win” and “King’s Dead,” the latter of which earned him a Grammy. MixedByAli made sure to remind Eastside Johnny of his victory, calling him a “champion.”
By the closing day of Coachella, it was back at the Zenyara Estate for Republic Records’ Class of 2019 showcase with BlueFace, Jacquees, Kiana Ledé, and Jeremy Zucker and a DJ set from SG Lewis. Cash Money co-founder and co-CEO Ronald “Slim” Williams was seen mingling in the crowd. The Boyboy West Coast, the Santa Barbara rapper known for his viral hit “Bottoms Up,” was seen taking pictures with fans. Notably, BlueFace performed “Deadlocs” and “Thotiana,” hitting the Bust Down dance a few times before retiring to his table in the VIP area.
Of course, nothing was as enticing as the festival itself, which this year had a remarkably diverse and important lineup. You wanted to see K-pop group Blackpink? You got a truly historic show. You needed your Billie Eilish fix? Not even mic problems could affect her vibrant set. And as Latin artists are becoming more popular in mainstream culture and dominating streams (with a serious lack of them playing at major festivals this summer), Coachella led the change that with significant Latin representation, spearheaded by J Balvin, Bad Bunny, and Rosalía.
For his set, J Balvin celebrated reggaeton, showing appreciation for the OGs before him by paying tributes to Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” and Wisin Y Yandel’s “Rakata.” The Columbian artist brought out Rosalía to perform “Con Altura” together, as well as Sean Paul for “Contra La Pared.” Even by Coachella standards, it was among the weekend’s most phenomenal performances.
Meanwhile, Rosalía delivered a stunning set with her mesmerizing Flamenco moves, becoming an instant crowd-pleaser as she sang with huge emotion and passion. It meant a lot for Rosalía, who comes from Barcelona, Spain, to perform her Spanish songs to an American audience. Between songs like “Pienso En Tu Mirá” and “Malamente,” Rosalía’s compassion for her craft and showmanship cemented her star status.
Puerto Rico’s rising trap star Bad Bunny held down the main stage at Coachella, performing an explosive set of X 100PRE cuts. It was a moment of pride for some in the audience, who waved their respective flags from Latin America. Any Bad Bunny song is going to get you dancing and going crazy, but J Balvin took his performance to the next level by running through their collaborations together: “Tu Sensualidad” and “I Like It.” You also had to be there to see the heart-wrenching singalong that happened during his performance of “Solo De Mi.”
While Ariana Grande closed Coachella out with surprise guests Nicki Minaj, Diddy, Mase, and members of *NSYNC hours later, 1OAK wanted to keep the night going with their annual One of a Kind Closing Party at Lago Vista Ranch. This was your last chance to party with celebrities in the Coachella valley before the workweek began. 2 Chainz, Lil Jon, Miguel, Tyga, Paris Hilton, Lil Pump, Def Jam’s VP of A&R Alexander “AE” Edwards, Interscope’s VP of A&R Brock Korsan, and DJ and creative Brittany Sky were all there to send off Weekend 1 of Coachella as it heads into the second weekend featuring Kanye West’s special Sunday Service. Close to 4am, the music was still going. It was rumored that this party would go until 7am.
The essence of Coachella, now and forever. You dance until the sun rises again.