Festival-goers listen to music from the One Music Fest main stage from a hill. Thousands of people filled Piedmont Park during day one of the two-day festival Saturday. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

One Music Fest is back, and with the usual stellar lineup of artists, including headliners Janet Jackson and Kendrick Lamar, there were numerous tributes to hip-hop as an art form and hip-hop artists who have passed away. 

During day one of the two-day festival, hip-hop acts like KRS-One, Brand Nubian, DJ Quik, Jadakiss, Fabolous, Dead Prez, and Lil’ Kim took to multiple stages to entertain thousands of people. They also were there to pay tribute to their brethren who weren’t able to perform on stages in Atlanta because they passed away.

During Lil’ Kim’s set, she and Lil’ Cease paid tribute to slain legendary Brooklyn rapper and close friend The Notorious B.I.G. (Christopher Wallace). Both credited B.I.G. for helping them get into the music business.

DJ Quik shared stories of the many songs he either entirely produced or contributed to as a rapper and producer during his time on stage. One of those songs was “Ambitionz Az A Ridah,” which he worked with the late Tupac (Tupac Shakur) on for the rapper’s 1996 album, “All Eyez On Me.” Quik took a moment during the end of his time to speak highly of Tupac, whom he called a friend. 

When it was Jadakiss’ turn to rock the stage, he too made sure to honor B.I.G. and another lost comrade, DMX (Earl Simmons), who passed away in April 2021. Simmons’ well-known battle with drugs didn’t stop him from becoming one of the genre’s biggest stars. 

Queens rappers Mr. Cheeks and the Lost Boyz took time during their set to pay tribute to Freaky Tah (Tahliq Raymond Rogers), who was shot and killed in March 1999. During the group’s performance of their hit songs, “Renae” and “Lights, Camera, Action,” Freaky Tah’s son performed admirably in his place.

The rap group Gang Starr didn’t perform Saturday night, but the rap half of the DJ/rapper duo, Guru, was shown love during Ed Lover’s set. Guru passed away in 2010, but before he did, he and DJ Premier recorded records that any true hip-hop fans, particularly those that are into 80’s and 90’s rap, will never forget.

It’s a good thing plenty of the artists on stage Saturday at Piedmont Park for One Music Fest haven’t forgotten and chose to pay their respects.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...