It's gonna get "Nasty" in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this summer: Janet Jackson is coming back to the Essence Festival.
She'll join Xscape, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg, Miguel, the Roots, Erykah Badu, Fantasia and many more at the 2018 event, organizers announced Thursday.
The 24th edition of the annual celebration of urban contemporary music, presented by the publishers of Essence magazine, will take place July 5-8.
Jackson previously performed at Essence in 2010. That show featured hologram special effects, intense choreographed routines and an S&M-themed PG-13 segment. She also revisited hits from throughout her career.
Blige is one of Essence's signature artists. She's headlined multiple times over the past decade, including in 2015 and 2017.
Badu and Scott are also multiple-year Essence veterans who have delivered well-received sets throughout the past decade. This year, they'll join forces with West Coast rap icon Snoop Dogg for a joint headlining performance curated by the Roots, the house band for "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
The Atlanta-based contemporary R&B girl group Xscape released only three albums in the 1990s before disbanding. But those albums yielded the enduring hits “Just Kickin’ It,” “Understanding,” “Feels So Good” and “Who Can I Run Too.”
The four women of Xscape kicked off their 2017 reunion tour at last summer's Essence Fest. But they were booked on one of the small “superlounge” stages on the Dome's club level, rather than on the main stage. The result was a crush of frustrated fans as fire officials and police closed off access to the overcrowded lounge.
The group returned to New Orleans as part of its "Great Xscape" tour for a sold-out show at the Smoothie King Center on Dec. 28. They'll be back at Essence again in July — presumably on the main stage this time.
Essence consists of three nights of ticketed concerts in the Superdome and four days of free seminars, panels and product presentations at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
Other artists on the bill at the Superdome include 112, Daniel Caesar, D-Nice, DVSN, H.E.R., Idris Elba (who will preside over a deejay set), Kelela, Kevin Ross, MAJOR, Mali Music, Marsha Ambrosius, MC Lyte, Mykia Jovan, Ro James, The Read’s Kid Fury and Crissle and VICTORY.
Thematic, multi-artist packages are a trend this year at Essence. The most prominent is the headlining collaboration among Badu, Scott, Snoop and the Roots.
Additionally, Kelly Price will present "For The Love of R&B" with Dave Hollister and Vaughn Willis. Doug E. Fresh’s "Legends of Hip-Hop Show" features Big Daddy Kane and Kool Moe Dee. Teddy Riley’s "New Jack Swing Experience" boasts Wreckx-n-Effect, Blackstreet and Guy.
Comic Roy Wood Jr., a correspondent on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah," will return as the main stage emcee for the second year.
The nightly capacity of the Superdome for Essence is 45,000. Total attendance for the three nights of Dome concerts in 2017 was approximately 90,000, an increase from 2016, when attendance dipped for the second consecutive year.
The 2018 Essence Festival will be the first since Time Inc. sold the festival's parent company, Essence Communications, to Sundial Brands co-founder Richelieu Dennis. Born in Liberia, Dennis moved to the United States to attend business school and eventually launched the company whose hair- and skin-care brands include Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage and Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture.
Variety reported that Essence President Michelle Ebanks will continue to run Essence magazine and the festival and will join the board of directors of Dennis' Essence Ventures LLC. Members of Essence's all-black female executive team have equity stakes in the business, according to Variety.
Three-night ticket packages for the Superdome concerts are on sale now, starting at $150 plus service charges.
Go to www.essence.com/festival for more information about the festival.