FLINT, Michigan — There’s a pulse radiating amongst the crowds. It’s electrifying, moving through the masses of people gathering to enjoy an evening out with friends, family, and loved ones. They swing their hips, sway from side to side, and bask in the heat of the moment. They’ve gathered because they love the city but, most importantly, to hear the sound of Flint.
Heads nod while alternative hip-hop booms out of the speakers. Hands sway in the air as smooth falsettos and R&B beats give 90s nostalgia. They shout, dance, and hype each other up as a gritty, feisty, take no prisoners attitude exudes from lyrical displays of genius. We, them, us, are Flint, and this is how Flint celebrated its music culture this summer.
Glizzy Fest attendants jump on stage and perform during Glizzy Fest on Saturday, August 6, 2022 in Buckham Alley, downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside.com)
The Antidote Fest, created by Antidote Studios in Flint, kicked off the charge. Held in Brush Park in downtown Flint on July 30, audiences were treated to an all-star ensemble of Flint artists from Velly Beretta
to Jada Ali
to Jeff Skigh
. From late evening into the night, performances lavished the community with an exceptional rendition of Flintdustry Female Cypher
Antidote Studio isn’t new to putting on spectacular shows and putting the spotlight on Flint and Flint music. In March, the studio headlined “The Sound of Flint”
stage at SXSW, once again creating avenues for Flint artists to expand their reach and bring global awareness back home.
Flint artist YN Jay performs during Glizzy Fest on Saturday, August 6, 2022 in Buckham Alley, downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside.com)
That awareness allows an artist like Rashaad Reed an opportunity to share his love for R&B in his hometown. The R&B scene has amassed huge followings from outlets, scoring top forty hits on music charts, gaining legions of fans through TikTok and Twitter, and shoutouts from music titans like Missy Elliott. For Reed, it means flaunting his singles with Jerne at The Antidote Fest and with Flint’s R&B princess, Brelia Renee
, at Glizzy Fest.
“It’s nothing like having that support system from the hometown — it’s important. It makes us feel good as artists like we’re going somewhere [and] doing the right things,” said Reed. “[So] I feel a responsibility to carry that R&B legacy and [to] make better music and more music.”
Crowds watch Brelia Renee and Rashaad Reed perform during Glizzy Fest on Saturday, August 6, 2022 in Buckham Alley, downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside.com)
One of the city’s biggest stages, dubbed “Flint’s Super Bowl,” is Glizzy Fest, a full festival packed with food, local vendors, and live entertainment. Held in Buckham Alley on August 6, in its second year, Glizzy Fest continues the tradition of breaking the mold for what’s possible in Flint.
It is a stage where artists like Fortunxte
, who deviate from the norm, can make a name for themselves and gain new fans. The singer-songwriter recently released his single “Just Breathe” which captures the essence of his generation’s plight, feeling like “I should be farther than I am.” Performing at Glizzy Fest allowed the father of two to express his music and inspire his children.
Flint artist DFFrnt performs during Glizzy Fest on Saturday, August 6, 2022 in Buckham Alley, downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside.com)
“Multiple people stopped me after my performance and told me great things about my sound. They said things like ‘keep staying true to yourself,’ and ‘it’s good to hear an artist talking about real stuff in their music,’” expressed Fortunxte. “No matter what life may throw at you, if you stay dedicated and believe in yourself, you can do anything. I try to tell my oldest son every day that he can do anything.”
While Glizzy Fest brought out hundreds of people, many have taken to social media to criticize the event and its treatment of artists. However, to put on something of its stature takes work, and it’s something the festival's creator, Kerale Cayton, wants people to know.
Flint artist Taylor Tatum performs during Glizzy Fest on Saturday, August 6, 2022 in Buckham Alley, downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside.com)
“A ton of work goes into being able to put on a stage like this. People have to understand that this event is on my back, out of my pocket,” Cayton described. “Of course, I can do things better. [But] when you see the finished product, it makes you feel good. Being able to do it downtown means even more to me seeing that people feel [it’s] not welcoming to everybody.”
Aiesha Lewis understands that better than anyone. As Event Coordinator for Flint’s Downtown Development Authority, Lewis oversees much of what happens. One of her pride and joys this year came from pulling together the Concrete Jungle Concert at the Riverbank Park on August 10, also known as 810 Day in Flint. The goal was to celebrate Flint, showcase artists like Figga Da Kid
, JB Smok3zz
, and G-S tha DreaM
, and demonstrate “how strong our community can be.”
Flint artist Ace Gabbana performs during Glizzy Fest on Saturday, August 6, 2022 in Buckham Alley, downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside.com)
“I’ve been blessed to coordinate with many talented event curators to make sure that downtown is safe and filled with different cultures and vibes. Being able to provide local artists with a platform to showcase their music on a day that celebrates Flint is beyond words,” commented Lewis.
Flint rap/hip-hop artist Cameron Tyler
, who performed at all three events with Taylor Tatum and Ace Gabbana
, said that a highlight for him was performing for fans. “I’ve grown up in this music scene the last three years. I used to be focused on being ‘authentic’ and ‘real.’ None of that matters to me today,” declared Tyler.
Flint artist Cameron Tyler performs during Glizzy Fest on Saturday, August 6, 2022 in Buckham Alley, downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside.com)
Tyler’s released over a dozen singles and two LPs in three years and centered himself as a leading man in the pack of Flint artists ready for mainstream success.
“Today, I know that telling stories through music is bigger than my own story, and that has a lot of power. My sound today is everywhere without any fear of judgment. My music is mine, and it’s dope!”
Friends TyEisha, Lyric Bonner and Jillian Barnett walk down Buckham Alley together during Glizzy Fest on Saturday, August 6, 2022 in downtown Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside.com)
Through these concerts, Flint stood firm as a collective through its studios, promoters, coordinators, businesses, and music artists. The cherry on top was Flint artist King Ca$hes
who headlined The Antidote Fest with Jeff Skigh, and together with his daughter, performed to a roaring Glizzy Fest crowd that showered them with love.
“I’m honestly grateful to be able to headline festivals in my hometown. I’m grateful to get the reception from the city I grew up in,” spoke Ca$hes. “[It’s] crazy performing with my daughter because I didn’t expect her to be there. I just felt like it was only right. I know how much she loved my music, and I always wanted that.”
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