Son of a Gun, We Had Big Fun At Friday’s Fourth Annual JMBLYA Festival.

Photos by Karlo X. Ramos and Breanna Loose.

When JMBLYA was born, a few thousand people gathered at what was then called Palladium Ballroom for a grand ol’ EDM-meets-rap time. Who knew then that the ScoreMore-produced hip-hop festival would continue to grow each year into what can now be considered one of Dallas’ most eclectic and certainly most fan-focused annual events?

Through a second year at Main Street Garden Park that included Chance The Rapper as its headliner to a third year that saw thousands pack into an open field in Deep Ellum for an event we called “a new and improved Warped Tour,” JMBLYA has only grown in size and significance in each of its now four years. The festival has given Dallas nothing short of stacked lineups over this stretch — along with food, games, activities, loyal fans and, of course, jambalaya.

The growth and the success of this festival is positively correlated in that the bigger it gets, the bigger the crowd gets, the bigger the venue grounds become, and the happier everyone there seems to be. This year, as JMBLYA turned four it moved to Fair Park and shed its baby festival status. This deal is officially one of the big boys now, one of the biggest, most-anticipated mainstays of the North Texas festival season.

Upon walking into the fest’s biggest grounds yet on Friday, fans were greeted with a sea of people, a huge water slide, a basketball goal set up on what seemed like bounce house material that was most definitely made for dunking, food trucks and, most importantly, some of the biggest names in hip-hop performing on a giant stage. Aside from the size of the stage and names like headliner Future, every detail, down to ticketing procedures and crowd control, made this year’s JMBLYA feel so much more professional and legit than year’s past. It was smoother, more relaxed.

The best part was the artist-fan interaction that happened throughout the day. ScoreMore has always focused on the wants of its fans, as well as those of the artists they bring to town, and JMBLYA is a perfect example of fan-artist interaction happening in one of the best ways possible. Artists like Trill Sammy and Dice SoHo came out into the crowd just wanting to party with everyone. Likewise, Dallas’ own Post Malone got up close and personal with fans during his set. And fans with special “I’m The Plug” wristbands were allowed even better access and opportunities to, say, be standing next to Kehlani ever-so nonchalantly.

Giant a fest as JMBLYA continues to balloon into, it’s managed to stay humble, creating an environment that makes fans and artists feel comfortable partying together — and giving everyone a reason to check out Future yet again, even though you might have just recently seen him perform in town a few months back.

Can JMBLYA continue to grow? Its track record says that’s a no-brainer. Here’s to seeing just how it manages to do so.

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