Chaka Khan_PhotoCredit_Timothy Fielding
Chaka Khan | Photo by Timothy Fielding

The Pitchfork Music Festival is upon us again. And in retrospect, with each passing year since its inception in 2005, the fest’s has made efforts to figure out exactly how to tap into the musical soul of the Black millennial, making the $75 single-day and $175 three-day tickets worthwhile.

The key is creating an eclectic melting pot; one that feeds our need for the soulfully funky old-school vibes passed down from our parents on every childhood Sunday morning spent cleaning the house to dusties, but also recreates the early 2000s Napster-era sense of euphoria that came with discovering an alternative gem online months before the terrestrial mainstream world.

Last year’s festival was the pinnacle of such creation. Pitchfork gave us the West Coast swagger of rapper Kamaiyah, hip-hop legendary status of A Tribe Called Quest and the funkmastery of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic all before sealing the deal with a steller Sunday lineup: rapper Isaiah Rashad, singer Jamila Woods and headliner Solange who led the melanated crowd in singing “Don’t Touch My Hair” in beautiful declarative chorus under the starlit sky.

This weekend, Pitchfork returns with a similar formula: the thought-provoking poetry of rapper Saba, the love soundtracks of singer-songwriter Raphael Saadiq, the timeless classics of Chaka Khan and the nostalgic vibes of Ms. Lauryn Hill.

Here’s our guide to the 2018 Pitchfork Music Festival weekend:

Saba_PhotoCredit_Evan Brown 2
Saba | Photo by Evan Brown

Friday, July 20

4-4:45 PM: Open Mike Eagle

The Run-Down: For starters, he’s from Chicago. Also – his fifth solo album, Brick Body Kids Still Daydream (2017), is a lesson on growing up Black in a Chicago housing project.

4:15-5:10 PM: Tierra Whack

The Run-Down: The Philly rapper is replacing Earl Sweatshirt on the bill. She’s got the internet abuzz with her debut album, Whack World (2018).

5:15-6:10 PM: Saba

The Run-Down: The Pivot Gang, Chicago-bred rapper is on track to having one of the best albums of the year – not for an independent artist, not for a Chicago artist, but period. His second studio album, Care For Me (2018), is one that needs to be heard and felt live.

6:15-7:15 PM: Syd

The Run-Down: The Internet lead singer is the voice you fell in love with on the band’s hit track “Girl” and Daniel Caesar’s R&B record “Take Me Away.” However, Syd’s got a solo career going, too. Her debut album, Fin (2017), is the proof.

Outside of the festival:

6-9 PM: Joe Fresh Goods

The Run-Down: This self-made Chicagoan came on the scene with his infamous “I Wanna F*ck Rihanna” hat in 2013. Since then, he’s produced fashion hit after hit with 2017’s Thank U Obama collection and now a new collection featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The line for Friday’s release is sure to extend around the corner. So, be prepared.

Kelela_PhotoCredit_Daniel Sannwald
Kelela | Photo by Daniel Sannwald

Saturday, July 21

3PM: Bookfort’s Chicago Comedy Set

The Run-Down: So one of Chicago’s rising comedians, Ashley Ray, is featured on this bill. Her social media timelines are filled with hilarious dating stories and in-your-face body positivity. Walk over to the Bookfort area inside the festival to check out her set.

4:15-5:10 PM: Moses Sumney

The Run-Down: His 2017 debut, Aromanticism (2017), received an 8.6/10 Pitchfork rating. Such high scores don’t come easy at the industry-leading publication.

5:15-6:10 PM: Raphael Saadiq

The Run-Down: Before he became the soundtrack-curating mastermind behind Issa Rae’s Insecure, Raphael Saadiq gave us “Whatever You Want,” “Anniversary,” and more love songs as a member of Tony! Toni! Tone!. His resume also includes songwriting credits on D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel) and executive producer credits on Solange’s A Seat At The Table (2016).

6:15-7:15 PM: Blood Orange

The Run-Down: He’s written and produced tracks for a long list of heavy hitters: Solange, A$AP Rocky, Willow Smith and more. And he’s got a new album on the way, Negro Swan.

7:45-8:30 PM: Kelela

The Run-Down: This alternative R&B girl truly understands how to keep you in your feelings throughout her entire show. Kelela’s debut, Take Me Apart, was one of the most talked-about albums of 2017. Honestly, don’t skip out on this one.

Outside the festival:

12-10PM: The Silver Room Block Party

The Run-Down: If you want to sneak away from the festival for a quick breather, this is the place to go. The Silver Room Block Party, held in Hyde Park, is a melanin paradise. Hundreds of Black people taking over the streets of 53rd and Lake Park with singing, dancing, shopping, eating, and drinking – whew! It’s truly beautiful, man.

Ms. Lauryn Hill | Photo by Dexter Navy
Ms. Lauryn Hill | Photo by Dexter Navy

Sunday, July 22

1-1:40 PM: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya

The Run-Down: He’s a Chicago DIY-er who dabbles in jazz and electronica. He’s also a newcomer to the festival.

2 PM: Bookfort’s Louder Than A Bomb Showcase

The Run-Down: For all of the bomb spoken word, stop by the Bookfort area for performances by a few folks from Chicago’s poetry collective, Young Chicago Authors.

3 PM: Bookfort’s Irreversible Entanglements in Conversation with Britt Julious

The Run-Down: We’re not totally sure what’s to come from this conversation with one of Chicago’s well-known music writers, Britt Julious, but if it’s anything like her daily meditation posts on Twitter, it should be a good chat.

2:30-3:15 PM: Kweku Collins

The Run-Down: A member of Chicago’s Closed Sessions camp, Kweku Collins is another popular dweller of the DIY scene.

3:20-4:10 PM: Ravyn Lenae

The Run-Down: Chicago has always had a strong R&B scene: R.Kelly, Jennifer Hudson, Donnell Jones, Carl Thomas, Sparkle, Syleena Johnson and more. But Ravyn Lenae is doing some pretty impressive stuff to stretch the limits of what Chicago has traditionally produced. “Sticky,” the lead single from her 2018 EP Crush is a perfectly melded piece of disco-esque, groovy sensualness.

4 PM: Bookfort’s Black Girl Magic

The Run-Down: The lineup is enough to stop what you’re doing to hear them speak: poet Raych Jackson, singer Jamila Woods, esteemed writer Eve Ewing and more.

4:15-5:10 PM: Smino

The Run-Down: The St. Louis-raised, Chicago transplant is approved by none other than T-Pain. That’s because both dabble in a world with no rules – making tunes that toy with otherworldly hip hop beats and playfully soulful vocals.

5:15-6:10: Noname

The Run-Down: She’s not one for lots of press and spotlight, but the music she makes has garnered the attention of music lovers inside and outside of her native Chicago. Her debut mixtape, Telefone (2016), was a testament to the beauty of spoken word in the expanding alternative hip hop space.

6:15-7:15: DRAM

The Run-Down: Though the Virginia rapper hasn’t released much music recently, we’re still here for the songs that put him on the map: “Cha, Cha,” “Broccoli,” and “Cute.”

7:25-8:23: Chaka Khan

The Run-Down: How does one even sum up the outstanding discography of Chicago’s own Chaka Khan. She first tore up the scene in the 1970s as the lead singer of the funk band, Rufus. “Tell Me Something Good,” “Do You Love What You Feel,” “Sweet Thing,” we can go on for days. Then, she switched things up with her solo crossover to R&B. “I Feel for You,” “Through the Fire,” “I’m Every Woman,” “Ain’t Nobody…” Yall, listen. Just be on time for Ms. Chaka Khan.

8:30-9:50: Ms. Lauryn Hill

The Run-Down: OK. We all know Ms. Lauryn Hill has a reputation for not showing up on time. But, she’s the closing headliner this year and we could be in store for a truly magical night of crooning to the essentials: “Ex-Factor,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” “Nothin Even Matters,” “Everything is Everything,” “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and more. Let’s see what happens.

For live coverage of Pitchfork Music Festival weekend, please follow The TRiiBE on Twitter (@thetriibe) and Instagram (@thetriibechicago).