A large cloud of smoke grazed over the Long Beach harbor last weekend from April 28-29, as the Smokers Club Fest kicked off at the historic RMS Queen Mary. Over 10,000 people attended the hip-hop festival, headlined by Wiz Khalifa, Schoolboy Q and Kid Cudi.
Hosted by Goldenvoice, who also put on Coachella and FYF in Southern California, The Smokers Club Fest hosts a special emphasis on cannabis. Various dispensaries, vape companies, cigar wrap businesses and other weed-related industries set up booths promoting their businesses at the festival, while its attendants sparked up throughout.
One business, in particular was Super Clinik, who sponsored the secondary stage for the music festival. The Santa Ana business offered patrons (over 21) free non-medicated edibles, after signing-up for their VIP list.
Puffy, a cannabis-based social network, originally advertised as a dating app, also had representatives in attendance. Since launching over 8 months ago, the app has achieved over 10,000 installs on the Google Play Store.
“We’re a really inviting app,” Aaron, a rep for Puffy, told BallerStatus.”A lot of people push the dating thing but we’re much more than that. Our events page allows people to market for free. It’s a great opportunity (for the cannabis community) on there.”
A variety of hip-hop artists joined the event on Sunday, with hardened Los Angeles hip-hop veterans like Dom Kennedy, and Earl Sweatshirt taking the stage, alongside emerging acts such as Cousin Stizz, and Rapsody on the Clinik Stage. The Stick.E.Vape main stage was even more varied, hosting the likes of Lil Xan, Juicy J, Isaiah Rashad and Flatbush Zombies alongside the evenings headliner Kid Cudi.
“A festival for me isn’t going to be about chasing the hottest thing that’s (expletive) popping on Soundcloud. I want to curate a great musical experience for the fan,” Jonny Shipes, the founder of the Smokers Club Fest, said in an interview with the Press Telegram.
Sebastian, a Southern California local attending the festival, was excited about the line-up despite some concerns over the set times. “Thirty minutes for a set is way too short. Also, the Underachievers are huge right now… I’m kinda mad their set was so early, I had to miss it because of traffic,” Sebastian said. “Glad that they moved Juicy J to today though, he’s always lit!”
Staying true to Sebastian’s word, Juicy J brought a ton of energy to the Stick.E.Vape stage, tossing out joints to the crowd in between bangers such as “Zip and a Double Cup” and “All I Blow is Loud.” After his performance of the song “A** and Titties,” the rapper offered anyone who had just turned 18 in the crowd a lap dance from one of the strippers on stage.
On the other side of the festival, Earl Sweatshirt performed for close to a thousand fans on the Super Clinik stage, performing tracks off of his albums Doris and I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside, as well as tracks likes as “Balance.” Earl’s performance was somewhat hindered due to physical ailments, which he addressed to the crowd during his performance of “Faucet.”
“I normally tell people to jump during this onem but my ankles be hurting and sh*t,” Earl vocalized to the large crowd around the stage.
Next up on the stage was North Carolina rapper Rapsody, who opened up her set with “OooWee,” off the album Laila’s Wisdom. During her break between songs, she gave words of advice to the audience, particularly toward the females and other minorities in the audience. “When you talk to your friends about me, tell them I’m a beast, not a female rapper,” Rapsody began. “I want you all to know you can do anything. If you’re a woman you can do anything, be a doctor a lawyer, a rapper, a producer a DJ.”
Rapsody also spoke on the impact artist’s have and their responsibilities to the audience. “J. Cole once said ‘We rappers are idols…’ Stay true to yourself… F*ck Donald Trump, Obama forever,” the emcee stated.
Returning to the Stick.E.Vape Stage, Flatbush Zombies brought their unique style of hip-hop to a crowd of thousands. Throughout their high energy set, the group performed tracks such as “Bath Salt” and “Thug Waffle,” as the crowd bounced and moshed alongside the music.
Yet, the headliner Kid Cudi finished the night off with one of the most memorable performances. Opening his set with “Baptized in Fire,” Cudder played a good mix of his catalog, beginning with songs from his 2016 album Passion Pain & Demon Slayin, before going into hits like “Mr. Rager” and “Up, Up &Away.”
Toward the close of his set, Cudi announced: “This is Kids See Ghosts,” his anticipated project with Kanye West, before performing “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1” from Ye’s The Life of Pablo. His most popular hit “Pursuit of Happiness” then followed, with thousands of people chanting along the songs lyrics. After performing his hit single “Surfin,” Cudi wished the crowd a goodnight, before exiting the stage.
Beginning as a small one-night show for the SXSW festival years ago, the Smokers Club Fest has come a long way from its humble beginnings. With this year’s stellar hip-hop line-up, the festival looks like it is on its way to becoming a successful festival mainstay.
“I thought we could do it bigger, better and more fun and turn it into a real festival,” Shipes told Press Telegram.
If Cudi’s performance was any indication, this year’s fest succeeded.