Tens of thousands are expected to flock to Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park this weekend for One Musicfest, the Southeast’s largest annual urban progressive music festival. Founded by Jason Carter in 2010, the two-day festival boasts a lineup of diverse acts such as Queen Naija, Busta Rhymes, Tory Lanez, Three 6 Mafia , Gucci Mane, Rae Sremmurd, Raphael Saadiq, Teyana Taylor, DMX, Rick Ross, Ari Lennox, Wu-Tang Clan and a cadre consisting of Trina, T-Pain, Trick Daddy, Uncle Luke and more being billed as the Florida All-Stars. Sunday will also include an OMF honors ceremony recognizing super producers Dallas Austin and Jermaine Dupri for their accomplishments.
Headlining the festival is one of Atlanta’s own, KP the Great, aka Kawan Prather, the multi hyphenate DJ-music executive-producer who will flex his muscle as a performer and connector by bringing his SUPERFRIENDS to the stage to close out the weekend. Usher and Pharrell Williams were revealed as two of the SUPERFRIENDS several weeks ago, but Friday the festival announced that Lil Jon would also be part of the set.
“We talked at Essence [Festival] and that was it,” Prather tells Variety of recruiting Lil Jon for part of his performance. “That was it. It was that simple.“
Prather and Lil Jon go way back. “In the 90’s we had this club called The Warehouse on Marietta Street about half a mile from where Centennial Park is now,” he says. “We were at this club, Jon was deejaying, we were performing; I was in a group [Parental Advisory/P.A.]. This was ‘91 or ‘92. It’s funny to think that first of all we are performing here, there was no Centennial Park back then, from a club that is a parking lot now.”
Prather’s goal with this 10th anniversary of One Musicfest is to shine a light on the city that has made an undeniable impact on the music industry. “Atlanta is a different place but the things are still the same that guide the culture and guide the temperature here now,” he says. “It’s still us as the people here.”
But there’s something to be said for size. Adds Prather: “When you think of a DJ set for a black music festival, I don’ t think we get a lot of production like this, and honestly One Musicfest was able to make sure that we had things to make this a bigger show. I know because it’s their 10-year anniversary they want it to be amazing. People are going to leave feeling like they’ve never seen a show or party combination like this that they felt involved in. It’s all of our show. When I say that I don’t mean just the people on the stage, I mean Atlanta. So this is our time to turn up and let loose.“
Prather’s close relationships with a number of entertainers helped facilitate the set. Currently the Music Director for I Am Other, Pharrell Williams’ record label, in April KP deejayed for Williams at the artist’s inaugural Something In The Water Festival in Virginia Beach, VA. It’s only right that Williams would come to KP’s hometown to return the favor.
“I think what it says more than anything is that is my friend,” Prather says of Williams. “We’ve done a lot of things that have affected each other, personally, professionally, in a way that you don’t even think of things that you ask each other sometimes. The fact that this is just a real genuine friendship, it just so happens that we work in a field where we get to do this shit. It’s amazing when you think about it. The sharing of hometown cultures.“
Pharrell and Lil Jon have both collaborated with Usher on big hits, so some of Prather’s set may seem easy enough to figure out in advance, but bear in mind that these are just three previously announced guests. KP says we can expect, “about seven more.”
“I like the idea of surprises,” Prather tells Variety. “I know in today’s social media world there’s always something to be said, but there’s something special about when you see something that you weren’t expecting to, but it was something you wanted that you didn’t even know you wanted that day.”