Midlands residents are invited to unite in Columbia this week to celebrate “Love, Peace & Hip-Hop.” But if you come, prepare to do more than just listen to lively music. Prepare to learn about hip-hop’s important cultural impacts.
What began four years ago as a single day of celebration has expanded into a week-long festival in South Carolina’s capital city. This year’s Love, Peace & Hip-Hop festival kicks off Tuesday and runs through Saturday, with events in venues in downtown Columbia and in West Columbia.
The initial event in 2012, then called Hip-Hop Family Day, was started by local hip-hop artist Darius Johnson, better known by his stage name FatRat da Czar. The goal then was to show people that hip-hop is more than just music. Now organizers of this year’s expanded festival are holding true to that initial inspiration.
“The inspiration really came from Fat Rat Da Czar. He had a vision of being able to show people that hip-hop is more than what they perceive, that hip-hop is more than just what you see on mainstream media,” said festival organizer Sherard “Shekeese” Duvall.
Allen University involvement is key
The primary goal of this year’s festival is “making it really reflect all the different sides of hip-hop culture,” Duvall said.
That goal is reflected the festival’s expanded programming and a partnership with Allen University, a historically black university in downtown Columbia.
This year’s festival will feature musical performances by such hip-hop artists as Daddy-O, Boog Brown and KRS-One, the 2016 Love, Peace & Hip-Hop headliner. KRS-ONE has spoken at universities around the globe, including Oxford and Yale, highlighting the history of hip-hop and “how hip-hop runs through so many different veins in society,” Duvall said.
The festival also will include local bands, including Columbia’s LeLe Bad Bad, Kobie Da Wiz, Chap Will, Sheem One and ColorBlind.
But, as Duvall is quick to point out, the festival — like hip-hop itself — is about more than just the music.
“By participating in some of the unique experiences we have this year, people will begin to see how wide and how deep hip-hop culture goes into society,” he said, noting that presentations during Love, Peace & Hip-Hop will tackle topics such as politics, fashion, education and art.
“I hope that people will see how many different tentacles hip-hop has and how it plays a role in so many parts of our lives,” Duvall said.
This year’s festival also will feature a Hip-Hop Studies Conference, Friday through Sunday at Allen University. All panel discussions are free, but registration is encouraged.
“We’re trying to make this as open and inclusive as possible,” said Trumpeter, chairman of the Humanities Division at Allen University. “We’d love to have as many people show up as possible.”It was crucial to work with a local, historically black university during the festival because “hip-hop is a youth movement,” Duvall said. Conference events are not restricted to Allen University students, and conference organizer Kevin Trumpeter says he hopes to see a packed house.
Conference to explore culture of hip-hop
The Hip-Hop Studies Conference will feature panel discussions on various aspects of hip-hop culture, some of which will be led by Allen University students.
“What I’m going to be looking at is how African-Americans from different regions of the world celebrate the culture of hip-hop,” said Joyce Haynes, a senior music student at Allen University. She will present a paper, titled “The Geographical Significance of Hip-Hop,” focusing on hip-hop’s impact on other cultures and on “Americanized” hip-hop.
Duvall stressed the importance of having students and young people lead the discussions on hip-hop culture because it’s a “youth movement.” Trumpeter expressed a similar sentiment, saying students are “carrying the torch of the hip-hop generation.”
The ultimate goal of the Hip-Hop Studies Conference and the discussion panels held throughout the festival will be to expand people’s perception of hip-hop.
“I hope that they walk away knowing that hip-hop isn’t all what you hear on mainstream radio,” Haynes said, adding that she wants participants to “come away with an appreciation that hip-hop is an art. Really walk away knowing that this is a respected craft.”
Love, Peace & Hip-Hop, for Duvall, is also about bringing different people from the Columbia community together.
“That’s how you build communities, and that’s how you make communities stronger,” he said. “Relationships are forged out of having shared experiences. The only way to get to know someone that is different from you, or a culture that’s different from yours is to participate in some of those experiences.”
Admission to most festival events is free. A complete schedule for this year’s Love, Peace & Hip Hop festival is available at the festival website.