BALTIMORE (WJZ) —  Baltimore-bred rapper Lil Key took the AFRAM Festival stage Friday, appearing in a lineup alongside high-profile artists like Ne-Yo and The O’Jays

The two-day festival celebrating African-American culture coincides with Juneteenth, the commemoration of the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans in 1865 that officially became a federal holiday last year.

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WJZ is the official TV partner of AFRAM, so Tim Williams and Sina Gebre-Ab caught up with the rising rapper in the WJZ tent before his performance.

Coming from the city, Lil Key said he found a lot of love in the packed crowd at the festival.

“It’s an honor to come back to the city and you know, just get that type of love,” he said. “It came over as y’all can see, it’s a packed crowd. So it was fun. I enjoyed it.”

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Lil Key said he grew up coming to AFRAM, even visiting the festival when it was by M&T Bank Stadium. The rapper has performed on a smaller stage at the festival in 2019, but he always wanted to make it to the main stage, and on Saturday night, he did.

“…I’m like, ‘yo, let me perform on the main stage,'” he said of his past performance. “But now we here now so you know, saying like, I worked my way out. So it’s an honor to be here.”

And most of all, performing for his friends and family meant a lot to the hometown rapper.

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“I started in front of this crowd,” he said. “So you know, just to get back in front of them again. It’s a great feeling just for them because they’ve seen me grow each and every year.”

CBS Baltimore Staff