Jmblya spices up Houston with J. Cole, Migos, Young Thug

May 2, 2018 GMT

Jmblya is coming back to Houston.

The annual hip-hop festival, which hasn’t been in these parts since 2013, returns Sunday to Sam Houston Race Park. It’s toplined by hip-hop maestro J. Cole, whose fifth album “KOD” was released in April.

Cardi B, one of pop music’s biggest breakouts of the past year, was supposed to be part of the party. The “Bodak Yellow” singer likely disappointed lots of fans when she dropped out of the lineup due to her pregnancy.

“Most importantly nesting,” she wrote on Twitter.

First a 15-minute set at Day for Night this past December, and now this? We still love you, Cardi B.

Young Thug was brought in as a last-minute replacement, joining Migos and Kevin Gates.

Jmblya debuted in 2013 at Bayou Music Center (now Revention Music Center) in Houston but hasn’t been back since. That inaugural lineup five years ago included Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Zeds Dead, Big Boi and G-Eazy.


It’s since been in Dallas, Austin and New Braunfels.

Jmblya will partner this year with the Rockets’ James Harden’s Lucky 13 Program to provide free tickets to the festival in exchange for participating in community service projects.

Here’s a look at who’ll be filling out your day at the park.

J. Cole

The North Carolina native arrives here at the peak of a hot streak, fueled by new album “KOD,” which delves into drug abuse, social media and politics. It’s a lush collection that veers from rapid-fire verses to galloping choruses to rich R&B grooves and production. Fans are responding enthusiastically. The album broke Spotify and Apple Music records for most streams in a day when it dropped. It’s also his fifth consecutive album to top the Billboard 200, an impressive feat for any artist.

Cole dropped his debut mixtape, “The Come Up,” in 2007. His most successful single to date is “Deja Vu,” a top 10 pop hit from 2017’s “4 Your Eyez Only” album. He’s also produced tracks for Kendrick Lamar, Janet Jackson and fellow Jmblya performers, and Houston heroes, Bun B and Trae Tha Truth.


The hip-hop trio brings considerable star power to the festival,powered by hits like “Bad and Boujee” and “Stir Fry.” Migos has released a trio of studio albums and a whole mess of mixtapes. Members Quavo, Offset and Takeoff also have extended their reach with solo collaborations and projects. Quavo, in particular, has teamed up with Travis Scott, Post Malone, Drake, Liam Payne, Bebe Rexha and Camila Cabello. Expect a solo album soon.

Offset is also engaged to Cardi B, and she teamed up with Migos for the song “MotorSport.” Fingers crossed for a cameo appearance.

Young Thug

The most recent addition to the Jmblya lineup is known for the hits “Stoner” and “Best Friend.” But the most interesting thing about Young Thug is his refusal to play by traditional gender rules, both in general and in the hyper-masculine hip-hop scene.


He wore a dress on the cover of 2016 mixtape “Jeffery.” And he said “there’s no such thing as gender” as part of a Calvin Klein campaign.

Young Thug dropped the “Hear No Evil” EP in April, which features Nicki Minaj, Lil Uzi Vert and 21 Savage.

Kevin Gates

Louisiana rapper Gates released a single studio album, “Islah,” in 2016, propelled by the hit “2 Phones.” He’s also issued a slew of mixtapes. But his career was stalled by several legal issues. He was released from prison in January after serving nine months of a 30-month sentence on a weapons charge.

Playboi Carti

Carti is equally known for his music and his luxe fashion sense. He has released a few solo singles and jumped on a stream of singles with the A$AP Mob.

Trippie Redd

The young rapper from Ohio has scored a pair of gold singles, “Poles1469” and “Love Scars.”

Ski Mask the Slump God

The Florida rapper, like so many others, used SoundCloud to jumpstart his career, scoring with songs “Where’s the Blow!” and “Take a Step Back.” He cites Busta Rhymes as a vital influence.


J. Cole approves of this Cali rapper. He’s signed to Cole’s Dreamville Records and dropped his second album, “Effected,” in February.


“Killamonjaro” was the song that put Toronto rapper Killy on the map. He released debut project “Surrender Your Soul” in March.

Jack Harlow

SoundCloud and YouTube proved a fertile training ground for this rapper from Louisville, Ky.

Bun B

The unofficial mayor of Houston is here, there and everywhere. Expect him to pop up in a few sets.

Trae Tha Truth

Trae is known for both his gruff flow and his humanitarian work. He put in countless hours helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey. His latest project is called “Hometown Hero” — and it doesn’t seem like grandstanding.

DJ Mr. Rogers

He’s a Houston staple and heard daily on 93.7 FM The Beat. He’ll be providing the beats between sets.