EVE. Photo Cred­it: Angela H (@lens.on.point)

Much like the weath­er, Cross the Tracks fest­iv­al held in the heart of South London’s Brock­well Park was also quite unpre­dict­able. The jazz, soul and funk fest was at risk of los­ing its feet due to the last-minute can­cel­la­tion of head­liner and queen of neo-soul Erykah Badu due to ill­ness, a blow that was felt deeply by her fans.

Des­pite this dis­ap­point­ment, the fest­ival’s lineup and speedy re-orgniz­a­tion by teams behind the scenes ensured the day was far from a let­down. Among the standout per­form­ances was the Cana­dian jazz ensemble BAD­BAD­NOT­GOOD, who delivered a set that left an indelible mark on the audi­ence. Known for their genre-blend­ing style, BAD­BAD­NOT­GOOD nav­ig­ated seam­lessly through a rep­er­toire that included both ori­gin­al com­pos­i­tions and unique cov­ers but they did miss out their Tik Tok vir­al hit ‘Time Moves Slow’. Their per­form­ance was a mas­ter­class in musi­cian­ship and cre­ativ­ity, cap­tiv­at­ing the crowd with their improv prowess and deep grooves. The band’s syn­ergy and music­al energy was incred­ible under­neath the sunset.

The ever-chan­ging set times because of the Erykah Badu shaped hole in the pro­gram­ming actu­ally worked out for the bet­ter in some cases. Alt-hip hop pro­du­cer Madlib was ori­gin­ally set to per­form a DJ set at 2pm in the after­noon — a really waste for a hip hop legend who has shaped so much of that avant-garde jazz infused hip hop sound. He was then res­ched­uled to be the pen­ul­tim­ate act to close out the stage — a more fit­ting slot for someone of his stature. Madlib brought out long­time col­lab­or­at­or Fred­die Gibbs for an impromptu set where they per­formed hits from their joint albums Piñata and Badana. Gibbs was allegedly about to board a plane back to the States after per­form­ing at Rinse FM’s Pro­ject fest­iv­al before he got the call from Madlib.

Ten years on from their first col­lab­or­at­ive album and they’ve still got it, Gibbs’ sig­na­ture gritty, rap­id-fire style com­bined with Madlib’s hard-hit­ting beats.

Eve, the icon­ic rap­per and act­ress, brought a dose of clas­sic hip-hop flair to the fest­iv­al. Her per­form­ance was a run through of all her clas­sic banger like “Who’s That Girl?”, “Sat­is­fac­tion” and “Let Me Blow Ya Mind”which had the crowd singing word for word. She even fea­tured a dance­hall sec­tion where she danced to hits such as Shabba Madda Pot. Eve’s com­mand­ing stage pres­ence and cha­ris­mat­ic deliv­ery reminded every­one why she remains a power­house in the industry.

The fest­iv­al also had stel­lar acts on the smal­ler stages such as jazz song­stress Sum­mer Pearl, the king of lov­ers rock Den­nis Bovell and Motown inspired soul band Thee Sac­red Souls.

90’s super­group En Vogue delivered slick cho­reo­graphy and had incred­ible stage pres­ence. I did feel that they weren’t quite the right fit for the rest of the pro­gram­ming of the fest­iv­al nor did I think they quite worked as the head­line act to close out the festival.

Cross The Tracks 2024 man­aged to over­come the sig­ni­fic­ant hurdle of los­ing its head­liner, thanks in large part to unfor­get­table per­form­ances by acts like BAD­BAD­NOT­GOOD and the sur­prise set from Fred­die Gibbs and Madlib. En Vogue’s set was sleek and extremely pol­ished but unfor­tu­nately couldn’t quite com­pare to the Queen of neo-soul Erykah Badu. Des­pite the set­back, Cross the Tracks has cemen­ted itself as THE fest­iv­al to be at for hip hop, jazz and soul heads. How about Erykah for next year?

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.

Maya Elese

Edit­or / Author at No Bounds
Mul­ti­lin­gual Lon­don born, bred & based print & broad­cast journ­al­ist, presenter, DJ & cul­tur­al pro­du­cer with a par­tic­u­lar love for glob­al afro-dia­spor­ic cul­tures. @mayaelese on everythang.

About Maya Elese

Multilingual London born, bred & based print & broadcast journalist, presenter, DJ & cultural producer with a particular love for global afro-diasporic cultures. @mayaelese on everythang.