MANY WERE up in arms last year when the mayor’s office announced the inaugural Portland Hip-Hop Day, which would take place in front of City Hall.
While Mayor Charlie Hales had very little to do with it, artists, activists, and fans called out the event as an opportunity to pander to black voters, metaphorically slapping a Band-Aid on our community’s strained relationship with the city’s leaders. But come on guys, we know better than anyone that there are very few of us out here; a pander like this wouldn’t even be worth the trouble. StarChile, the event’s main organizer, says the backlash was misguided and unnecessarily explosive—a prime example of why we can’t have nice things.
Now that the Facebook shitstorm has passed, the truth has (hopefully) made itself apparent: this day belongs to us, the people. StarChile and O.G. ONE curate the event’s lineup, and Star says he’s very intentional about to who he offers this platform—he’s not about to let just anybody get up there and recklessly rap about drugs and gang-banging. Not in the whitest major city in America.
So the event will remain a family-friendly celebration.
While last year’s bill spotlighted artists representing the Portland new wave, like Vinnie Dewayne, Mic Capes, and Jon Belz, the Second Annual Portland Hip-Hop Day will celebrate the golden age of local hip-hop with Mic Crenshaw, Vursatyl, and Libretto. DJ Chill will be on deck as well, with a set that will pay tribute to hip-hop from the 1995 to 2001 era. As per usual, women are underrepresented, but hopefully next year we’ll get some inclusion.
This year’s event will also feature a live mural painting by Ashley Montague and a group of b-boy performers. There will also be food provided by Jazzy’s Southern Style Kitchen, Hana’s Authentic New Orleans Snowballs, and the wildly popular Stoopid Burger. There’s also an after-party that’ll be hosted by Portland’s brand-new hip-hop station, We 96.3, at the Skype Live studio, where there’ll be a free showing of the 1984 movie Beat Street.
In future years, Star envisions making the event into a block party of sorts, or a waterfront festival that goes beyond just showcasing Portland’s scene. The point of Portland Hip-Hop Day is to bring people together to see and celebrate all hip-hop, which will someday hopefully include national—even global—acts. For now, though, let’s come together for joy on a Saturday with free music and good food. You know, for the culture.