It’s 90 degrees, the middle of July, in Baltimore. That can only mean one thing. The 35th annual Artscape.

Artscape is the largest free arts festival in the United States. Artists, fashion designers, craftspeople, sculpture, photography, dance, film all converge on the Mt. Royal cultural district.

Outside of the art and food, a major draw is the eclectic mix of music. I head over to the main stage to see one of the founding members of the hip-hop/r&b super group, the Fugees, Wyclef Jean. As the audience waits in the sweltering heat, the DJ plays songs from DMX to Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. He even spins with a shirt over his head, ultimately taking off clothes while mixing.

DJ shirt on head

DJ spinning before the Wyclef Jean concert at Artscape

After the requisite introductions and sponsor comments, you hear Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide…

The multilingual artist then freestyles in French and Spanish.

We’re treated to Bob Marley & the Wailers’, No Woman, No Cry and Everything’s Gonna Be Alright. Next up, an instrumental of Wyclef’s 911, Gone Till November and a roster of Fugees hits. He then strums the guitar for the Cuban patriotic song, Guantanamera.

Wyclef waxes poetic about his upbringing in New York and New Jersey, bid for president of Haiti, and love of old school music. A perfect segue into a block party segment that got the crowd hype with the Jackson 5, The Temptations, and his biggest-selling single of the twenty-first century, Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie.

Wyclef runs into the audience a few times to the delight of concertgoers. Kids overrun the stage, per his invitation for a “turn-up” segment. The singer shares his new single Hendrix, from the upcoming album Carnival III: Road to Clefication.

Wyclef Jean in the audience

Wyclef Jean in the audience at Artscape

Kids on stage

Wyclef Jean brings children on stage at Artscape

Throughout the 90-minute set, Wyclef touches on police-involved shootings, the struggles of minority communities and urges people to come together in these trying times. The author, actor and musician closes the show in a perfect embodiment of individuality meets unity—with a Jimi Hendrix-esque rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

 

A few photos from Artscape.

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