By Payton Wilson
Good Vibes Only, one of Houston’s only mainstream music festivals made its return this year, and it surely didn’t disappoint. The event’s lineup was filled with local artists, with the only exception being headliner, Burna Boy. GVO’s original lineup included artists such as Ari Lennox and DJ Drama, but both acts were later replaced with local artists DJ Oreo and OG Ron C.
The festival kicked off with a performance from Jimmy Boltx, a rapper who calls himself a “Yockstar”. As soon as he touched the stage, he captivated the attention of everyone in the audience with his contagious energy. He displayed incredible breath control as he hopped around from side to side on stage, engaging each and every person in the audience without missing a beat. When asked about his performance and the energy he maintained, Jimmy said, “Energy is in me…it’s who I am. I bring that energy every time I perform. It’s all a part of me.”
Jimmy’s performance was followed with quick sets from several DJs to amp up the audience for Texas Legends, the duo consisting of Houston legends Paul Wall and Slim Thug. The duo took turns going hit for hit and the audience loved every second of it. When Paul Wall rapped the intro to his and Nelly’s hit song, “Grillz” the entire audience rapped along with him and was sure to make him feel the love Houston has for their legends.
Both Wall and Thug have over twenty years in the game, but Wall didn’t always envision himself becoming the legend he is today.
“Growing up I always wanted it, growing up in hip-hop there weren’t a lot of old rappers to look at…in rock and country you see artists that are seventy, eighty years old, but there are no rappers who are that old yet. I always looked at other musicians like Willie Nelson, it would be my dream to be that age still putting music out, touring, and representing my city,” Wall told the Defender.
After the Texas Legends wrapped up their set, OG Ron C took the stage and blessed the crowd with his signature chopped and screwed sound. While the crowd didn’t recognize him immediately, as soon as he played “TSU” by Drake, people quickly caught on. His set was immediately followed by the event’s first headliner, Houston’s very own, Monaleo.
In an era where female-led rap is quickly taking over Hip-Hop, there’s been a multitude of talented female rappers to launch from Houston, but amongst Houston’s rap scene, it’s widely agreed that Monaleo is truly the one next up.
She performed about six or seven songs and engaged the audience with each one. Toward the end of her performance, she debuted a new song that showcased a different side of the braggadocious, and bold Monaleo fans may be used to. She wrote a song about the many friends she’s lost within the past year and picked that night to debut the unreleased track and her previously unseen singing pipes. Before the song, she asked the audience if it was okay to switch up the vibe a bit and slow it down. She was clearly nervous, but she didn’t let her nerves get in the way. She sang her heart out and the audience felt her emotion and responded well.
Immediately after she finished her set, the Defender caught up with her for an exclusive. When asked about how she felt about her performance and how it felt to perform in front of her hometown, she said “I feel so good…my adrenaline is rushing so bad and I’m just so happy that the city embraces me. I love my city and I can’t wait to do more for my city.”
She also spoke more about her debut song.
“Definitely singing at the end for my friends that have passed away. I felt like I really got to honor them and I felt good about that,” she said.
Monaleo has a long, bright career ahead of her. Her bars are clean and her vocals are just as smooth, but her versatility is what will also carry her far.
The last performance of the night came from the Nigerian afrobeat superstar, Burna Boy. Before he came on stage, his DJ and hype crew came out and turned the venue upside down. They played afrobeat classics and kept the crowd moving and singing along to every song. When Burna Boy finally came out to perform, the audience was so amped up, that each song he performed only drove them crazier. Houston has a huge Nigerian population and it felt like they all showed up for Burna Boy that night. Even when his set ended, people were still dancing and smiling with one another.
Good Vibes Only was a perfect name for this festival. As the night went on, its positive energy only increased. From Paul Wall to Burna Boy, there wasn’t a single dull moment. By placing a highlight on both up-and-coming artists and veterans in the game, they succeed by appealing to many different audiences and demographics and bringing them together. If a “Good Vibe” was the goal, then the goal was surely achieved.