Hip-hop fans already have much to rejoice in Houston, and there's even more to get excited about come May 6. That's the final stop for JMBLYA, the annual traveling Texas hip-hop festival, which wraps up its sixth year at Sam Houston Race Park following stops in Dallas and Austin.
J. Cole, the Grammy-nominated, platinum-album selling rapper from North Carolina, will headline the festival in all three cities, JMBLYA organizers announced last week. J. Cole was the final addition to the lineup of hip-hop heavy hitters including Migos, Cardi B, Playboi Carti, and Kevin Gates, whose JMBLYA performance will mark the first show announced since Gates was released from prison last month.
With "Bodak Yellow," Cardi B became a force to be reckoned with—the first woman rapper to land an unassisted No. 1 hit on the Billboard 100 since Lauryn Hill. Cardi B's fiancé and occasional collaborator, Offset, will join her in Texas as one-third of Atlanta trap trio Migos, whose Culture II just hit the Billboard 200 album chart's No. 1 spot.
Special guests to this year's line-up include Houston legends Bun B and Trae Tha Truth, plus H-Town's own DJ Mr. Rogers.
JMBLYA organizers sought a mix of critically acclaimed, national acts and up-and-comers like Soundcloud rappers Trippie Redd and Ski Mask The Slump God, YouTuber-turned-emcee Jack Harlow, Toronto newcomer Killy, and J. Cole prodigy Cozz.
Last year, JMBLYA saw its largest crowds to date with more than 25,000 attendees at its two stops in Dallas and Austin. This year, the festival's return to Houston "marks the end to a long-awaited hiatus in H-Town since the event's inception in 2013," a press release said. With a Houston comeback, festival producers ScoreMore Shows now have music events in every major Texas market, including El Paso, San Antonio, and the aforementioned JMBLYA tour stops.
This year's event also features improvements like expanded water filling stations (with unlimited free water) and more shade structures—much needed come May in Houston—and twice the number of food vendors, increased size of all bars, and more bars with non-alcoholic offerings.
General admission tickets are on sale now for $60, with VIP packages (aptly named Pinky Rang, Gator Boots, and Fur Coat) up to $299. VIP extras include expedited entry, commemorative merch, and access to premium viewing areas, bars, and air-conditioned restrooms—how boujee.
Some lucky Houstonians will score free JMBLYA passes in exchange for volunteer work through a new partnership with James Harden's Lucky 13 Program. The festival will benefit 2018 partners Trae Tha Truth's Angel By Nature Foundation, the Houston rapper's non-profit for Hurricane Harvey relief and underserved youth; Grounded in Music, an Austin non-profit to provide music education for underprivileged children; and Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, a statewide organization of black and Latino communities to promote social and economic equality for low- to moderate-income Texans.
JMBLYA organizers will announce further details in the coming weeks, including daily performance schedule and opportunities to earn free tickets through community service.