Hip-hop hooray: New festival goes beyond the beat to celebrate art, culture
A new St. Louis hip-hop festival will go beyond the music and celebrate the culture that surrounds it, including art, film and dance.
The four-day series of events dubbed Hip Hop Week will coincide with Paint Louis, an annual gathering of hundreds of graffiti artists from around the world who will paint murals on the flood wall by South Wharf St. downtown.
“If I say Hip Hop Week, most people will think of it as: ‘Oh, it’s a music festival.’ And [they’re] not thinking of other elements of hip-hop — such as the fashion, such as the film, such as the culture of hip-hop,” said Dwight Carter, a local event promoter who is the festival’s creative director.
The events begin on Thursday at Webster University with a screening of “Graffiti Limbo,” a documentary film about Paint Louis, which began in the early 1990s as an informal gathering and has grown into a festival featuring music and invited graffiti artists from around the world. Participants this year come from as far afield as Brazil, Australia and Switzerland.
The film screening will be followed by a panel discussion with filmmaker Brent Jaimes and John Harrington, longtime Paint Louis fixture and the leader of local hip-hop group Midwest Avengers.
A show at the Ready Room on Friday will showcase local and regional hip-hop artists and DJs plus a dance battle. A tribute to the influential television show “Yo! MTV Raps” at the same venue on Saturday will include performances by local artists Midwest Avengers, Nite Owl, T-Menace and We Are Root Mod interpreting hip-hop classics of the 1980s and ‘90s.
Carter said artists involved with Hip Hop Week will join a beefed-up lineup of rappers and DJs performing at Paint Louis.
Harrington said he hopes the events this weekend will open attendees’ ears to local talent.
“St. Louis has a deep and big, wondrous amount of hip-hop in it,” he said. “People get caught up in the West Coast and the East Coast [scenes], and they don’t really look right in their own back yard to what they have here.
“I want people to come down here just to see what we have available and what we’re doing and what our scene is like — artistically, musically — and what direction it’s going in, and become a part of it. Support it.”
Follow Jeremy on Twitter @jeremydgoodwin
If you go
What: Paint Louis
When: Thursday Through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: 1000 S. Wharf St., St. Louis
What: Hip Hop Week: All Styles Dance Battle
Where: The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave., St. Louis
When: Friday 9 p.m.
Tickets: $7 (advance), $10 (door). Ages 21 and up.
Also: A Tribute To "Yo! MTV Raps" at The Ready Room (all ages) on Saturday at 8 p.m., Screening of "Graffiti Limbo" followed by panel discussion at Webster University on Thursday at 6 p.m.