What Could Have Been: CFG 2020
Concert nostalgia is REAL. These live streams and zoom concerts are great and all, but let’s be honest – they are not the real thing. Never did I think I would miss the sore legs, sweaty clothes, and occasional loss of hearing that comes with concerts. There was a time when the mosh pits called my name and I couldn’t afford to answer. Now they don’t even call…
Yikes! So around this time of year, Tyler, the Creator would be putting on his legendary Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival. If it wasn’t for COVID, this year would mark the 9th annual festival that has grown immensely in the past few years. This is far and away my favorite festival to attend, so in order to cope with my concert nostalgia, I decided to make a mock, semi-realistic lineup for what could have been.
What are my credentials to make this list you ask? None, really. I’ve been to the festival a couple times, including last year where I was notoriously a booer of Drake (in hindsight, sorry Drake stans).
To be fair I wasn’t one of the obnoxious people in the front row, but this concert drought has definitely taught me to be a more compassionate fan. Sorta. Let’s get into it!
*limited research outside of my own experience went into this*
The Daytime Club
As with any festival, the daytime performances usually feature smaller, less widely known artists. Oftentimes these end up being the best performers at some festivals. Given CFG’s history of daytime performers, there are bound to be gems in this group that will grow into stars.
The Brockhampton-esque collective from San Jose, CA combines elements of alternative, hip-hop, jazz, and funk. Their song “Mariposa” went viral earlier this year thanks to a trending TikTok dance.
The singer/poet from West London caught ears in 2019 with her single “Cola” and has continued to produce some of the most beautiful and soothing R&B, bedroom pop, and indie tracks.
The Irish-born rapper has been active since 2013, releasing two singles this year ahead of his next project. He’s worked with the likes of MF DOOM, Clairo, and Snoh Aalegra, with his music gaining wide acclaim.
The figurehead of the Raised By The Internet collective has released several promising solo songs, including his uber-popular track “Stella Brown.”
Her debut album SAWAYAMA has earned widespread acclaim, with many considering it an album of the year contender. The Japanese-British singer/songwriter has pop anthems merged with R&B, early 2000’s alt-pop, and club beats.
The Los Angeles-based songwriter and producer is a leader in the West Coast house music scene and recently released the song “Skate Depot” as a single off his upcoming EP, I Can’t Go Outside.
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about Tyler, it’s his loyalty to the people he started with. Every year at Camp Flog Gnaw, there are a couple names that the general public may not recognize, but OG fans of the collective will never forget.
As three of the original Odd Future members, they have performed at every Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival to date. If there’s such a thing as a lock prediction, this is as close as you can get.
Taco has also performed at every Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival to date. He’s done more acting recently, but his DJ skills are still ripe for the carnival.
Earl is widely regarded as the most talented rapper to emerge out of the collective. His 2019 album Some Rap Songs received widespread critical acclaim for it’s experimental production and studious poetic brevity. He missed a couple years of the festival, but it’s safe to say he’s back to being a regular for the time being.
The alternative R&B group, led by Syd and Steve Lacy, regularly puts on one of the most groovy and fun performances of the entire festival. Their creativity-over-commerciality brand of R&B has made them a fan favorite over the years with exceptional projects like Hive Mind and Ego Death.
They’re widely known and will draw good-sized crowds, they just haven’t been active long enough to appear higher up on the poster. They’re entertaining and surely will have a couple bops that you and yours friend wanna sing along to.
The Toronto-born singer/songwriter has accumulated a plethora of features on tracks with big name artists, but it’s her solo work that has shined in 2020. Her latest project BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US+ perfectly articulates her personal, and often political, brand of R&B.
2020 has been a big year for Queen Naija, beginning as a social media star and transitioning to a certified hitmaker. Her album missunderstood is set to drop on October 30th.
The rapper released Lil Boat 3 earlier this year, with Tyler providing a gritty guest verse on the track “T.D.” Yachty has released music consistently over the last few years and performed at CFG in 2017.
The D.C. rapper and fashion icon blew up in 2017/18, but she’s released several new singles this year in anticipation of her next project. She’ll definitely be bringing the rage to the stage.
He became a household name with the Imanbek remix of his 2016 song “Roses” earlier this year, but don’t get it twisted – SAINt JHN is a full-fledged rockstar who puts together crazy, high-energy performances regularly.
Aalegra vaulted to mainstream popularity with the sequel to 2017 project Feels, humorously titled – Ugh, those feels again. Her satin voice dances over beautiful melodies, positioning her at the forefront of R&B/Soul music moving forward.
They’re not quite headliners, but they’ve got the second biggest names on the poster. They bring great energy and even greater anthems. They set the stage and get the crowd amped up for the headliners, which isn’t an easy job.
Both performed to large crowds and resounding applause last year, even sharing the stage at one point for their song “Hit Me Up.” Both released new projects this year. I want both, but I’ll take one. Or both. Both would be cool.
Jaden has performed at CFG on multiple occasions, both with and without his sister Willow. It’s well known that he’s good friends with Tyler, even referring to Tyler as his “best friend” and “boyfriend” during his 2018 performance at the festival. With his latest installment in his Cool Tape series releasing earlier this year, Jaden would’ve been a safe bet to be at this year’s festival.
The multi-talented creative released her intensely personal third project, The Album, earlier this year. The G.O.O.D. Music alum works as an actor, dancer, and choreographer on top of her music career, so it’s safe to say that she would put together a legendary performance.
Freddie Gibbs released an Album of the Year contender earlier this year with Alfredo, which features Tyler on the track “Something to Rap About.” But Freddie and Tyler go back much further than that, with Freddie making an appearance on the Odd Future sketch show Loiter Squad back in 2014. 2014 was also the only time Freddie Gibbs performed at Camp Flog Gnaw, though nowadays he has a much bigger presence in rap and the music industry as a whole than ever before.
The rising R&B king released F**k the World earlier this year and it quickly became a fan favorite. His smooth, inviting vocals are incomparably blissful, setting him up for one of the best vibes of the festival.
A frequent collaborator with Tyler, Kali Uchis has worked her way up festival billings in recent years. She performed at CFG in 2016 in one of the earliest daytime slots, but just two years later in 2018 she was a prime time show. On this lineup, she keeps her every-other-year streak alive and is back for her 3rd performance.
The grand finale. They command the biggest crowds. They’re the reason you spent $400 to be sandwiched between sweaty people you don’t know just to get a glimpse of these performances.
Correction, this is as close to a lock prediction as you can get. After all, it’s his festival. He usually takes the Saturday night slot at 9pm and kills it. Why would we expect anything else this time around?
She’s performed before at the festival in 2016 and 2017, and with her latest project It Was Good Until It Wasn’t releasing earlier this year, she’s set for a big return to the CFG stage. In many ways, she’s our generation’s Jill Scott (hot take?), and will definitely put together a worthwhile performance.
Both have performed as billed artists for this festival in the past. Both were “surprise guests” at the infamous incident during last year’s festival. Both are close friends with Tyler. There’s no doubt one of the rappers would show up, if not both.
Is there a hotter rapper this year than Lil Baby? His album My Turn debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, and his protest song “The Bigger Picture” is the epitome of a modern era social justice anthem. Tyler recently praised Baby’s track with 42 Dugg “We Paid,” calling it “the core of rap music.” Lil Baby as a headliner also leaves the door open for guest appearances from two other leaders in rap and frequent collaborators – Young Thug and Gunna. Am I delusional? Probably. But Lil Baby is plenty on his own.
In the past couple years, the headlining spot for Camp Flog Gnaw has commanded big names like Kids See Ghosts and the notorious three question marks that turned out to be Drake. This spot has to be filled by a big name, so here’s two – Jhene Aiko and Big Sean. Both released new solo albums earlier this year on top of rumors of a sequel to their 2016 joint project that was a fan favorite. Knowing that this has historically been a predominantly hip-hop and R&B festival, this headlining duo would definitely get people interested.