Smokers Club: Nikki Hearts Photographs the Music Festival That’s Getting It Right
The former adult film star and noted cannabis enthusiast inhaled deep at the weed/rap fest — “a truly successful hybrid” — and snapped pics of 2 Chainz, Juicy J, Lil Pump, and more.
A couple weekends ago, my wife Leigh Raven and I woke up early and geared up for our trip to the Smokers Club Festival in Long Beach, California. I'd been looking forward to the event for months, seeing as it was a festival celebrating two of my all-time favorite things: Hip-hop and weed! Juicy J at Smokers Club 2018.
After Leigh chiefed a blunt backstage, she warmed up a bit. Imagine if we weren't at a weed-friendly festival? She would have been dip-set before we caught any of the sets! Leigh Raven at Smokers Club 2018.
Leigh and I both turned 26 at the end of last year. This was the first big current music festival I have been to in a while, as well as my first time in years being surrounded by so many up-and-comers. Yung Pinch, photographed by Nikki Hearts.
We made our way to the main stage through the crowd of 10k people, which was comprised of mostly undeRagers, as this was an all-ages event. It was such a cool feeling to be emerged into a new age of hip-hop culture, alongside the diehard fans of over 40 artists. I have always appreciated the similarities in the ethos of punk and hip-hop music, but this was the first time I witnessed a crowd that really represented that with their modern style — both aesthetically and aurally.
Young Thug thuggin' out. Photo by Nikki Hearts
Lil Pump pumpin' – photo by Nikki Hearts
Lil Pump. The polarizer. Most people who stay up on hip-hop have an opinion on the kid. And I mean "kid." Pump is 17-years-old and has become a sensation over the past year thanks to his hit "Gucci Gang," in which he raps about using drugs, fuckin' bitches, and the fact that "none this shit be new to [him]." Don't get me wrong, it's catchy. I just can't help but be baffled that people are promoting this young kid rapping about life-ruining drugs like meth and prescription pills to a radio audience. Does that make me sound old? Well fuck you! Either way, he came out and did his thing, and the audience ate it up like candy… or meth (?)
2 Chainz, performing Saturdy at Smokers Club
I was probably most excited to photograph 2 Chainz at the Smokers Club. He's a bona fide rap legend, trap legend, and weed legend. Plus, Titi Boi is known for putting on a great show, a reputation he 100% lived up to. He nailed all the hits and did not disappoint.
Leigh wanted to comment that her least favorite performance of the day was Lil Pump because "he caused too many mosh pits. It scared me. I do like him, though. He's cute, despite being 17!"
The entire crowd was lit, with blunts on blunts on blunts being passed everywhere. It probably looked like there was a fire from the highway.
Lil Skies and Leigh Raven, photographed by Nikki Hearts
Juicy J, photographed by Nikki Hearts
Juicy J and Henry AZ, photographed by Nikki Hearts
Ty Dolla $ign, photographed by Nikki Hearts
Ty Dolla $ign is another big player on the charts today — a modern R&B legend in-the-making. Seems like he's got a verse on every hit these days. He came out and gave a dope and humble performance. Not only did he bring fans up on stage to dance; he entered the crowd himself multiple times to hit blunts — all while continuing his performance without missing a beat.
Flatbush Zombies, photographed by Nikki Hearts
This was one of my first big mainstream projects to tackle after distancing myself from the adult industry. I was overall pretty nervous about throwing myself into a semi-unfamiliar environment with such an over-stimulating task. But I have to say I left feeling inspired and excited for more. My main goal as an artist right now is to hone in on my snapshot skills while focusing my lens on subjects I enjoy — all while getting high and making those bill$. The future is looking bright, fam.