Over the weekend, Black Gay Pride weekend in DC to be exact, Jussie Smollett chose the best weekend to hit the stage. He and his crew brought the house down at U Street Music Hall in the city. The intimate venue left the packed house feeling as if you were watching your BFF rocking the stage. His spirit leaves you feeling this way. It’s like you’ve known him forever. Jussie Smollett is how people should be in this world and they just don’t exist always.
We arrived at 6:15ish after finding parking, and watched the line outside the building grow and get longer. I made my way to the front, checked in, and made it inside. VIP was already being checked in to Meet & Greet the man of the hour and pick up your package, which included your VIP lanyard, an autographed picture, t-shirt, and a Jussie Smollett face fan. After meeting the superstar and taking our picture, we proceeded inside to take it all in, pick your spot before the room was full, and await the show to kick off. The line for regular admission had already started, and before long the club was filling up after 7.
Inside the nightclub, you’d find the bar, which we chose to partake and mingle with others gearing up and anticipating the moment we all were waiting for. June’s Diary took the stage at about 8. Being my first time ever seeing these five women perform, I was not disappointed but upset it had taken me this long. They were true professionals and if I do say so myself, they almost killed Beyonce’s hits almost better than her, yeah I said it. I have been a Bey fan since the beginning of time, but Saturday night I became a fan of JD. They performed, O.T. Genasis’s Everybody Mad and Beyonce’s Love on Top. Giving us a flavor and rendition of their own, they also left us droplets of the originals, but the sprinkles of their own surpassed what we knew. The energy as soon as they dropped the first record was on 9,000 the entire time. Breaking a true sweat, they performed with so much intensity and intent. The nightclub basement was filled with fog, the perfect stage lighting, and fun, set for an evening to remember.
There I stood in the back by the sound crew and Frank Gatson, just as our favorite headliner was about to hit the stage at 9. A June’s Diary fan and a fellow native son approached me mentioning my hair and the ankh earrings I wore, complimenting my “WOKEness”. We continued in conversation while good and classic 90s music played in the background. He told me he had never seen Jussie Smollett perform or heard his music. He led with, “He’s a cutie though”. I humbly agreed and told him the name of his album, Sum of My Music, and that he should hear it and stick around for the show to see how he gets down. He and his boyfriend, who he introduced me to, were contemplating on leaving before Smollett came on. To my surprise, they stayed and had a good time dancing the entire show long. I tried to catch back up to him to see what he thought after Jussie put it down and tore the house up.
The room filled with screams and camera phones came out as the main event started and just as Jussie came out. He went through his catalog of known hits from Empire, some versions we’d never heard, and tracks from his debut album. He performed a never released version of Heavy written by NE-YO, and Michael Jackson’s Workin’ Day and Night, discussing how hard he’s been going at this tour. We see you Jussie! He performed all of what I wanted to hear and more, but my personal favorite was Ha Ha (I Love You), just as on the album. He went on to say, “I’m in love y’all. It’s embarrassing how much.” He also went on to ask jokingly, “Won’t that sh*t f**k you up? (referencing love)”. He performed Don’t Go, elaborating on the old him, stating, “New Year, New Me,” but he’ll go through that mf’n phone in a heartbeat though. Jussie went through hit after hit rocking the crowd with alongside his dancers while the audience danced, partied, and belted out the lyrics to their favorites.
He also took time and spoke candidly about the President “down the street,” giving a few choice words about him and the climate we are currently in today. He followed up with Freedom, stating, “There’s too much bullshit going on. Just love each other.” No matter what that looks like. If “two consenting adults,” as Jussie said, love one another, so be it. He performed Catch Your Eye, Conqueror, Hurt People, and You’re So Beautiful. He ended with a reminder, “Love is all we got.”
The biggest takeaway for me is how humble this man is. Down to earth is an understatement. This man is purely genuine and one hell of an artist. If you ever meet him or see him in concert you’ll know what I mean. An advocate of love in the flesh, his concern was making sure my parents were taken care of above all at that moment after meeting him and for that, I’m forever grateful for him. If no one else understands the value of parents, Jussie Smollett does. He’s a real cancer; very compassionate, sensitive, heartfelt, and extremely family-oriented. I know that is Janet Smollett all over him, and for that I thank her.