Last month, when Art of Cool Festival announced its 2017 lineup, the festival seemed to have outdone its bookings of the previous three years.
After all, which of its years can top two vastly different, legendary music lodestones like funk pioneer George Clinton and hip-hop icon Rakim headlining, as well as another wide-ranging field of jazz, soul, and hip-hop hotshots including world-class trumpeter Christian Scott, prolific hip-hop producer and DJ Just Blaze, JMSN, Goldlink, The Hamiltones, Nao, and more?
Today, Art of Cool made an even stronger case for its 2017 festival by adding Grammy Award-winning Chicago rapper, Common, as a third headliner. He’ll take the stage at the Durham Performing Arts Center on Saturday night, marking the first time that AOC has ever used DPAC as one of its official venues.
“We wanted to grow AOC gradually,” says Cicely Mitchell, Art of Cool’s president. “Adding DPAC increases the visibility and scale of the festival. The addition this year was a natural next step. We hadn’t gone to DPAC in past years because we didn’t feel it was quite yet time.”
And the timing couldn’t have been any better, as AOC may have been looking for a way to prove to the Triangle community that it’s just as capable as Moogfest or Hopscotch of having a large-scale festival and putting its acts in the city’s largest marquee venues. The timing will be perfect for Common fans, too. In early November, the “I Used To Love H.E.R.” rapper released his eleventh studio album, Black America Again, another refined milestone of his social activism and sharp emceeing.
“Common fits very well into our larger mission of jazz-curious audience expansion,” says Mitchell. “His recent album is created in collaboration with jazz artists Bilal and Robert Glasper [both AOC alum]. He’s also worked with jazz drummer Karriem Riggins. In past works, Common has also been categorized as a jazz hip-hop artist. Our mission remains unchanged as mass exposure to jazz and its derivatives and jazz-curious audience expansion.”
The Art of Cool Festival is April 28-30, and tickets are still available here.