Exclusive: J. Carter, Creator Of ONE Musicfest, Takes His Talents To Dallas For TwoGether Land

Exclusive: J. Carter, Creator Of ONE Musicfest, Takes His Talents To Dallas For TwoGether Land

OMF Presents TwoGether Land, a music festival that aims to address a gap in cultural representation

After 14 spectacular years and a well-attended event in 2023 that paid tribute to 50 years of hip-hop, ONE Musicfest concept is branching off from its Atlanta roots and sowing the seeds of a spinoff in  Texas. Continuing a fruitful partnership with Live Nation Urban, OMF Presents TwoGether Land, a music festival that “aims to address a gap in cultural representation” in the Dallas region, a press release read.

Much like its sister event, TwoGether Land will run two consecutive days over the Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26, 2024. The much-anticipated fete kicks off in Fair Park, a couple of miles from Downtown Dallas, and will incorporate a plethora of Texas talent. BLACK ENTERPRISE caught up with ONE Musicfest founder J. Carter, who claimed “Atlanta can’t have all the fun,” to discuss the movement Southwest. 

BE: My first OMF was really exciting but what stood out for me was how multigenerational the festival was and I’m curious about the challenge that may have been for you to make that happen.

J Carter: It was, it was definitely a challenge. Well, first of all, I always wanna thank you for supporting the last eight years and being a part of that journey with us. 2016 was a pivotal year for us. That was really our first sellout. 2016 was really the turning point. It was a total learning experience for our culture and community. 

Initially, I had the idea concept in ‘08, and there really wasn’t anything out there like that with R&B and hip-hop—our music. There just wasn’t anything out there. The closest thing you had was something like Essence, but that was really more of an expo—not an outdoor festival in the elements, bouncing between stages, and having younger artists and emerging artists with some of your nostalgic acts. When I pitched it to larger organizations, they literally said it wouldn’t work because they didn’t think Black people would brave the elements. I beg to differ. I said, “That’s not true.”

I’m gonna piggyback and agree with you. Your festival is literally my entry point to anything like that, but they also said that about hip-hop, and here you are, putting on the 14th OMF— and celebrating the 50th year of hip-hop in the same year. I think 2023 had the largest number of people I’ve seen at OMF and it also spoke to my specific generation. I felt like you put that event together, like, specifically for us, am I right?

It was the largest crowd we’ve ever seen but that was the plan. We always wanted to be in Piedmont Park from day one. It’s like the Holy Ground in Atlanta. It took us a while to court our way into that park. Once we set foot in it, we said this thing has to be big, it has to be Janet Jackson big, Kendric Lamar big and it has to speak to every dynamic and corner of our culture, generationally speaking, so I’m glad you were out there and able to experience that. I think it was probably for the city of Atlanta, one for a culture. I think that was probably one of the most beautiful moments I’ve witnessed. 

I felt safe, not just because I was among my own people. It was just a safe feeling overall. I didn’t feel any threat and I also didn’t feel policed. I wanna talk about the logistics of something of that scale and growing from Sugar Hill to Lakewood to Central Park to Centennial Park then Piedmont. Can you talk about that movement a little bit because that’s what it is at this point?

People may look at it and think of it as a nomad festival because we bounce around so much, but I think we continuously kept outgrowing the venues that we were in. When we started, we were in a parking lot in King’s Plow. We immediately knew that wasn’t going to work again. Ironically, we ended up at Park Tavern and we utilized a small piece of Piedmont Park but the production was too small for us and then we found our way to Masquerade in Fourth Ward Park and that worked for a second, then we outgrew that. Then we did a co-program with Live Nation Direct and Live Nation owned and operated Liquid Amphitheatre. It worked for a period of time, but the vision was that we gotta go beyond this. It’s just too much, too much music. We got too much to celebrate to try to squeeze all this into one day.

In 2018, I decided to move it out of Lakewood and do it on my own in Central Park as a two-day festival. I think that was a year with H.E.R and Miguel, plus Nas and Two Chainz. That’s when we realized, it’s a true festival. It’s a two-day event, multiple stages, in the heart of the city. Honestly, we were a plane in the air, waiting to land in Piedmont Park, circling the airport, waiting to land and just trying to make it fit in as many places as possible until that opportunity came available. It couldn’t happen at a better time than 50 years in hip-hop.

So, you land in Piedmont Park, you say that was always the goal. You’ve clearly met that goal and now I hear you’re taking flight.

We’re not taking flight, we’re expanding. ONE Musicfest will never leave Atlanta. It’s born and bred here. As long as we have a home at Piedmont Park, OMF will stay in Atlanta. But what we did do, we did expand to the southwest region with another brand, an extension of OMF, for a brand called TwoGether Land that would bring it to Dallas, Texas. For maybe five years, we have been exploring other cities and how to expand OMF beyond Atlanta. It wasn’t a popular decision because people wanted to keep the name and do two in multiple cities. History has proven itself that that doesn’t really do or fare well. I think Dallas is an incredible city, and the Southwest has incredible culture. Dallas really doesn’t have a culturally rich festival-style event similar to an OMF. It just made sense.

You’re certainly not taking sand to the beach with Dallas because, as you mentioned, something like OMF doesn’t exist there. So, are you taking any risk?

I think there’s always a risk with pioneering something and doing something new. The biggest thing is we can’t stand back and allow somebody to tell us what we will and will not do, or what we want and what we don’t want, especially if they’re not of the culture and don’t look like us. If that was the case, OMF wouldn’t exist.  So, you know, it’s the same. I think it will do extraordinarily well in Dallas.

Are you taking your Atlanta team to Dallas, or spurring up a whole new team in Dallas?

It’s yes—and. We will be going to Dallas with some of our Atlanta-based team, but we are definitely incorporating Dallas-based talent, creators, and individuals. My line brother is Oscar Joiner, who was born and raised in Dallas, has been championing to get this out there as well. I spent a lot of time going back-and-forth to Dallas over the last three years, sitting with Oscar, some of his team, other individuals and just game-planned this thing. I would say 95 % of the DJs who will be on that stage will be from the Dallas area. TwoGether Land won’t feel like a piece of Atlantic coming into Dallas. It’s gonna feel like a Black and Multicultural, Southwest Festival.

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