Holy Smoke!

Holy Smoke!, Mosh Pits, and Loving Your Neighbor

A few weeks have passed since the lights turned off at the inaugural Holy Smoke! Festival, and many of the attendees have found it hard to process the truly historic and emotional night. On his instagram profile, Mogli The Iceburg summed it up perfectly: “Thank you to everybody…Still processing everything.”


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A post shared by Mogli the Iceburg (@moglitheiceburg)

I was blessed with the opportunity to fly to Atlanta to experience the festival myself. I’ll be honest with you; I was nervous. A group of indie CHH artists has never before hosted their own festival, and I was experiencing it alone. The indie tribe. collective, independent label Build Your Own Dreams and booking agency INVT Only, were together taking on uncharted territory.

As the first sets began to perform, I very quickly learned that the Holy Smoke! Festival would be by all accounts, a family affair, and I was invited to join.

Throughout the event, I was continually inspired by the way artists, DJs, media, and organizers shared the stage. Foggieraw brought up his entire Maryland family, Henrick begged us to treat his set as worship, and Aklesso spent most of his set flailing in the mosh pit with fans. It seemed as if every artist in that building cared more about loving their neighbors than advancing their
career – and that was special.


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A post shared by Aklesso 🇭🇹🇹🇬 (@aklsso)

To much surprise of the crowd, Reach Records stars WHATUPRG, Wande, and Andy Mineo made appearances in support of their friends. Artists such as Swaizy, Caleb Gordon, and Jude Barclay mixed in with the crowd in support of their fellow artists. At the Holy Smoke Music Festival, it didn’t matter where you came from or who you knew. You belonged. When Jon Keith claimed to be part of a village, he meant it.

My Top Moments from Holy Smoke!:

1) Aklesso’s performance of Blackkkansman (twice).
What can you even say about this performance? Aklesso brought an energy that was absolutely unmatched. As the song began and the beat dropped, Aklesso threw himself over the (ineffective) barrier and into the moshing CHH fans. The crowd enjoyed the experience so much, they screamed for him to “run it back” — to which Aklesso happily obliged.

2) Andy Mineo’s surprise appearance.
Were there rumors of Andy making a surprise trip to Upstairs Atlanta to perform with nobigdyl.? Sure. But that did NOT stop this crowd from going absolutely berserk when Andy joined dyl on stage to perform “Willy” and “Coming in Hot.”

3) Not Klyde. Period.
Can we talk about Not Klyde for a minute? This guy has STAGE PRESENCE. The dude simply exudes the joy of God and it is CONTAGIOUS. The joy is present in his music and his performance. Make sure you check out his entire set on his Instagram!


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A post shared by NKBABY (@notklyde)

4) indie tribe.
Thank you so much indie tribe. You are a blessing. There is so much hard work that we will never see. This was the most special event I have experienced in a very, very long time. Thank you for amplifying talented artists, DJs, photographers, producers, dancers, organizers, vendors, and JESUS. You all were intentional about sharing the stage and loving each other. It shows. Keep being the light in this way — the whole community is rooting for you.

What was your favorite moment from Holy Smoke!? Comment down below!

What do you think?

Joey Verhelle

Written by Joey Verhelle

Joey is a high school English teacher with a deep love of Christian Hip Hop. He has been listening to CHH since 2012. If he isn't lesson planning, he's reading a good book or watching soccer.

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