Dispatch From Charlotte: Sudd, The Curator

With its overflowing roster of talent from the Carolinas and beyond, No Stress Fest reflects the enduring role of the DJ — and specifically, the pull and influence of High Point native E.Sudd.

Dispatch From Charlotte: Sudd, The Curator
No Stress Fest 2024 at Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte, NC. © 2024 Super Empty illustration.

DJ E.Sudd has spent years traveling the world alongside superstar rapper 2 Chainz, but he’s never forgotten about his home state of North Carolina. 

As 2 Chainz’s official DJ and a member of the Atlanta-based collective Street Execs, Sudd (originally from High Point, NC) has been instrumental in the careers of major artists like Travis Porter and Young Dolph, but he’s also looked out for NC’s own, including the the late Winston-Salem rapper SauxePaxk, and more recently, the buzzing Trinity, NC, country-rap act Anella Herim. Under his No Stress brand, he created the No Stress Sound Academy as a creative space for young artists looking to expand their knowledge of the music business and network with top executives in the industry. But the most visible displays of Sudd’s Carolina community-building have been his No Stress Festival events across the state — first held in Winston-Salem in 2015, then Greensboro in 2018, and most recently in Mount Holly last year, under the moniker Water Under The Bridge. This past Sunday night, Sudd and the NS team weren’t far from their 2023 location along the Catawba River. But this time, rather than on the outskirts of the Queen City, they were in it — putting on the festival’s biggest iteration yet, at Charlotte's Neighborhood Theatre.     

I met Sudd back in 2018 through my college classmate DJ TyPack at Chophouze Studio. He was calm, but he commanded the room. His media runs back then set a standard throughout the state — introducing Carolinians to a number of rising mainstream artists like Dolph and the late Bankroll Fresh. No Stress Fest 2024 was no different. I had never heard of Premo Rice until this past Sunday, but he had the entire place packed. His flow and style reminded me of Bay Area emcee Larry June, so I was surprised to find out that he’s actually from PG County, Maryland. But before he had even taken the stage, Sudd had already put together one of the dopest lineups I’ve ever seen at an independent music festival.

DJ E.Sudd at No Stress Fest 2024. Photo by Rakeem "Keem" Jones.

Along with Premo Rice, Sudd had the host city represented with Charlotte artists Fetty P. Franklin and Cyanca on the bill. Anella Herim popped out to perform the song “Don’t HMU” from his recent project, Season 3. StephenThaDream and Chewy kept the crowd hype as DJ Wonder and DJ Gift set the vibe musically. And as expected from a DJ with Sudd’s connections, the guest list went beyond the Carolinas: performers came from as far as Memphis, Indianapolis, and Cleveland. The night’s standout performers were Fetty P. Franklin and Eddie Valero, both of whom I had the privilege of meeting at No Stress events in the past. For the closing act of Franklin's set, he brought out South Carolina artist Trap Dickey, who performed his viral hit “Blue Devils.” Paper Route Empire turned the stage blue in honor of Young Dolph as Jay Fizzle ran through a number of his hits, and even dropped some new Memphis vibes on the crowd.

Around 10:30, the DJs and host commenced setting a playa vibe, and the crowd knew it was time for Premo. Dressed in a pink Burberry shirt and white Prada shoes, the PG rapper had the crowd going crazy. As I was shooting photos, I was also learning the lyrics to his songs, because the crowd rapped them word for word. He brought out Charlotte rapper Gauxstman (formerly known as Southside Gauxst), another artist I saw last year at Water Under The Bridge, to perform the pair's song “Good Game.” Just before closing his set, Rice brought out PG artist King Joe for another collab track, “On Go” (the video for which currently sits at 1.8 million views). He wrapped the performance with a show of gratitude to Sudd and the No Stress team, followed up by StephenThaDream presenting Sudd with framed photo collages that featured images of Sudd with his daughter and the late SauxePaxk. The love and appreciation for Sudd, and his years of putting on for his home state and the community within it, was palpable. 

There’s an ongoing debate about whether DJs are still integral to breaking new music. In the case of North Carolina and E.Sudd, at least, that question was answered a long time ago.

Salute to Sudd, No Stress, and every activist getting active. Peace.

Rakeem “Keem” Jones is a regular contributor to the Fayetteville Observer, as well as a community advocate, father of four, and the owner of the Keem Jones Content Collection. He lives in Fayetteville, NC. You can find more of his photography and writing via his personal Instagram or his content page, Keem Jones Collection.