Festival Review: Kodak Black Returns Home for Birthday Celebration on Kodak Black Day
Haitian/American rapper Kodak Black celebrated his return home in a big way in Pompano Beach, Florida, for the inaugural Kodak Black Day music festival that brought together thousands of the local rapper’s most faithful fans to celebrate the hip hop star’s 25th birthday.
Dieuson Octave, known professionally as Kodak Black, brought together a collective of some of rap’s brightest and most recognized names in hip hop, included surprise guest close friends and Moroccan-American rapper French Montana and NFL star quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was on hand and also hails from Pompano Beach.
The lineup included the hometown headliner joined by such top-selling rappers as Moneybagg Yo and Yungeen Ace and a few up-and-coming artists who kept the audience moving and dancing in place throughout the day. While Travis Scott, Lil Durk, and Est Gee were scheduled to perform, they were nowhere to be found. Among the notables was Pompano Beach Mayor Rex Hardin, who joined Black on stage and offered a resounding welcome home to the Pompano Beach native.
“Thank you for putting on a show for all of us. It’s a great event that brought the entire community together” – Pompano Beach Mayor Rex Hardin
Of course everyone was thrilled to see the honored guest on his big day. However, Mother Nature and some headstrong individuals had other plans in mind. Black’s performance was delayed by two factors: weather and security. The first couldn’t be helped, of course; the second included two serious security concerns that involved the crowd that had blocked a secured gate leading backstage. As security and onstage staff pleaded and practically begged for the crowd to step back, those standing in that area became defiant. After authorities threatened to shut down the event, the relentless pleas became nothing but noise and were ignored to the point where this was turning into a serious security concern. The crowd planted themselves and didn’t budge. By now, we are all weary of any circumstances like those at the Travis Scott concert last November that ended in tragedy. Fortunately this turned out differently. After nearly 40 minutes, in sweltering heat and humidity, the area was cleared, and calm was finally restored without incident.
It was at that point that security gave the thumbs up for Kodak Black to emerge and take the stage. However, things were still muddled, and a second situation arose when a large amount of people had managed to gain access to the stage. Credentialed or not, they took their spots while security continuously asked them to clear; once again, nobody budged. This was no ordinary security concern; there was a crowd of nearly 100 people on a stage that is not built to hold the weight of such a gathering. It put those standing on stage in a chaotic and dangerous situation. Once again, pleas to clear the stage were ignored, and those on stage remained defiant, nearly the same situation as the earlier issues with the gate. Those headstrong individuals on stage spent their time taking selfies and dancing before making it clear they were not leaving, again further delays. The crowd became restless; after all, they had paid good money to attend and watch a concert, not the delays due in part by a lackadaisical security effort. After 22 years of covering thousands of concerts and music festivals in every genre, this was something I had never experienced. After 25 minutes of pleas to no avail, Kodak Black relented and, instead of performing on stage, took his spot standing atop an amplifier at the front of the stage, one of the few places where he could move freely.
Of course, what was missing was a proper birthday salute to the man of the day, and the DJ inspired his faithful fans to join him to sing Happy Birthday. With the birthday festivities out of the way, it was time to move into phase two. Kodak Black joined the crowd on stage and quickly got into the next foray of songs. One of the highlights of the Kodak Black set was when he brought his son King to perform “Usain Boo” from his latest album Back for Everything that was released earlier this year. The beats continued leading the crowd into a sing-along of several of Kodak Black’s heaviest tunes. With the bass now on full blast, the crowd got into it, and the party kicked into overdrive. Black continued to perform relentlessly, giving those well-deserving fans exactly what they came for: a great and memorable show.
Moneybagg Yo was very impressive and had an outstanding set. He got the crowd going early with his mega hit “Wockesha.” If you haven’t seen Moneybagg live, you should. Youngeen Ace was all about Ksoo that night, getting the crowd to shout out Free Ksoo, a close friend of the rapper who remains in jail. The Jacksonville rapper was a lively addition to the lineup and a performer who had an island vibe to his rhymes.
Besides the music, there were plenty of activities to keep those attending entertained when they needed a break from the music. The all-day event included a carnival-style festival complete with six thrill rides, carnival games, and other attractions that were all included in the concert admission price, no extra costs or tickets to buy, quite a nice surprise. There was of course a VIP section that included private cabanas and bottle service that allowed those how shelled out the bucks to escape the two rain storms. For those who are foodies, there was plenty of delectable food choices to select from, including Chinese, island-inspired dishes and specialties like fried chicken gizzards, and fries, burgers, and hot dogs. For those who wanted to indulge in the beverage form, there was plenty of cold beer and alcohol to keep you cool during throughout the warm and muggy day.
For many festivals, the safety of those attending has become a point of contention. Kodak Black recognized the law enforcement officers who did an outstanding job of keeping everyone safe and the house in order as much as they could. As for Black’s security staff, perhaps that should have been better planned. In some cases they appeared unnecessarily aggressive, as was the case during the meet and greet. Fortunately nobody was hurt other than one concertgoer who passed out due to heat exhaustion, which is a normal occurrence at music festivals during the summer.
There were lots of takeaways from this festival. Sure it was fun, it was well planned, and had tons to offer, in fact, more than the average music festival, making this an event with potential. While the security issues dampened the fluidity of a great event, hopefully this fun festival will grow and become an annual event. Those issues shouldn’t overshadow the great performances by the artists and the great time that most people experienced. The rides were fun and a great touch. Perhaps they will rectify these snafus so that, in the future, festival-goers can enjoy a full set of music from Kodak Black and friends. The festival provided an opportunity to reunite with old friends and perhaps make some new ones. This is one of the things that make events like this fun. Music festivals like these extend into reaches far greater after the music has ended. Some of the sights, sounds, smells, and experiences will remain with those who attended for years to come. Will we see Kodak Black Day 2023? We hope so.