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Cultura Festival 2023 (Photos + Recap)

Curren$y at Cultura Festival 2023. Photo by Clif Rhodes.

The Cultura Festival at The Royal American was everything I thought it would be and more. From the delicious food provided by Vibrant Alkaline Vegan Meals & Bits-N-Bytes to the silent disco, vendors, and FREE arcade with Mortal Kombat, skee ball, air hockey, and more, the environment was full of wonderful vibes and a beautiful people. Matt Monday, Black Dave and the S.W.I.M. crew DEFINITELY brought the city out for this one.

Before I get into the performances, I just want to take a moment to shed appreciation to all creatives in the city that came out and actually supported this event. The level of networking and connection was absolutely unreal and I’m glad to have seen so many talented people in one place building with each other and genuinely enjoying the frequencies that were floating through the airs of The Cultura Festival. It’s beautiful to see events like this that bring every facet of Charleston life together under the muse of music.

All photos in this review are by Clif Rhodes Photography.

R Dotta

R Dotta at Cultura Festival 2023. Photo by Clif Rhodes.

Opening up the evening was R Dotta, sporting official merchandise from his recently released We Only Live Forever album and setting the tone with his confident stage presence and high energy, head knocking music. He performed a few of his throwbacks and recent releases, then entered us into the world of WOLF.


Tyrie at Cultura Festival 2023. Photo by Clif Rhodes.

Next up on the line-up was Tyrie. I personally wish that Tyrie went a bit later in the evening because the amount of energy he left on the stage was enough to fill a stadium. A classic performance from Tyrie featuring hits from 4 Flights, Season 3, and more.

Tyrie ended with the performance debut of his recently released track “All Love” feat Anfernee and it was powerful. Anfernee popped up and aided Tyrie in sending a wave of potent frequencies throughout the minds and hearts of all in attendance.

BluFlame James

BluFlame James at Cultura Festival 2023. Photo by Clif Rhodes.

From here it went UP! Following Tyrie’s performance was the electric, smooth groove of BluFlame James, as he performed popular tracks from his new album Digital Danger. Two of my favorites from the set were “Gangsta” and “Energy” feat Heartbreak Hutch. A jazzy, fun, interactive performance that left remnants of blue smoke in the air and a great transition into the evening.

Just Alex

Just Alex at Cultura Festival 2023. Photo by Clif Rhodes.

Next on the bill was Just Alex aka Melodik. I was highly impressed, as this was my first time seeing the songstress live. Perhaps one of the most entertaining performances of the night, as she gave the crowd everything we could ask for in a live performance.

Covering a few of Beyoncé’s hits to warm up the crowd, led into some amazing originals that had the crowd moving and dancing alongside Just Alex as she busted out a few clean routines to some of her hits such as “Show You Off” and my personal favorite, “Outside”.

Mike Brown

Mike Brown at Cultura Festival 2023. Photo by Clif Rhodes.

As the evening began to draw to its peak, Mike Brown hit the stage and gave us a performance we won’t forget. If you’ve never seen Mike Brown’s live show before Cultura, I’m sure you left a fan.

Mike Brown, known for his excellence as an R&B artist, made it very clear this weekend that not only can he serenade us with songs of love and faith, like the tracks from his album HER, but he can COMFORTABLY go song for song with the most talented of lyricists at any level. With the choral harmonies, background dancers, and mixing of DJ IllaDell, Mike Brown gave us yet another memorable performance.


SunRhé at Cultura Festival 2023. Photo by Clif Rhodes.

Mike Brown’s R&B influence gracefully ushered in another gifted artist by the name of SunRhé. SunRhé’s performance was nothing short of raw, kinetic, talent. Beyond her talented voice, you can feel the authenticity and open vulnerability pulse off stage. She performed her solo singles like “Fire” and even gave us a few numbers off of Lavender. And as if it couldn’t get any better, SunRhé brought up Mo.Et and they performed as their group, Black Sun.


CrucialBGR at Cultura Festival 2023. Photo by Clif Rhodes.

As the night passes and the crowd swells, we get closer and closer to the nights magnum opus, Curren$y. However, right before he hit the stage, we had a crowd-rocking performance by CrucialBGR followed by a LIT set by DJ IllaDell.

CrucialBGR hit the stage full swing, gloves ready, and gave the crowd a slew of tracks ranging from his extensive catalog. Bangers from his album Already A Legend filled the air as he hit us back to back drops from the release and I think he even threw in some upcoming unreleased joints.

DJ IllaDell

The unsung hero of the night, DJ IllaDell, stayed on the 1’s and 2’s all day and kept the crowd moving and engaged for the entirety of the show. Playing local music, billboard hits, classic rap and R&B and matching them with his tailored mixes, DJ IllaDell not only kept the function cohesive, but he also predicated Curren$y’s anticipated performance with a strong set of original mixes and jams.


Curren$y at Cultura Festival 2023. Photo by Clif Rhodes.

Finally, Curren$y hit the stage with a 3 piece band and brought it home in classic Fly Society fashion. I was very impressed to see the time and effort put into the performance. No backing tracks, other than a few blends of the instrumentals and the voices of the people chanting songs like “Michael Knight” and hits from album, Stoned Immaculate, in the crowd.

The energy was indescribable as the lot filled with smiles, raised hands, and recited lyrics. I could tell that Curren$y felt the energy of the Cultura crowd as he would stop and sort of bask in the vibes every once in a while. Following his performance, he hopped in the crowd, chopped it up with the people, and even signed autographs and took merch. A successful apex to the night.

DJ Shamrock and DJ Scrib at Cultura Festival 2023. Photo by Clif Rhodes.

Overall, as a fan of music, entrepreneurship, networking, good food, and community- I thoroughly enjoyed the 2nd Cultura Festival here in Charleston. This festival not only gave us performances from some of Charleston’s most prominent acts, but created a platform for us to connect and build in an environment that caters to our positive light and creativity as a people.

Huge shouts to Matt Monday, Black Dave, S.W.I.M., The Royal American, and everyone involved from the sound guys to the security. You guys executed a live experience that we need more of in the city of Charleston.

See a full gallery of photos from the evening below. All photos by Clif Rhodes.

All Photos by Clif Rhodes.