Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. will host the 4th annual Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival, the first and largest international hip-hop festival in the US, on April 3rd and 4th, 2009. This year, the event is headlined by K’naan, the rising star in international hip-hop. The Somali MC spent the last 2 years touring with Damian and Stephen Marley. His vividly spoken images of war-torn Somalia and fierce criticism of American gangster rap has garnered him appearances on BET, MTV and collaborations with Mos Def and M1 of dead prez. K’naan signed with A&M/Octone in 2008 and released Troubadour in February 2009.
An accomplished group of international performers and academia will support K’naan and participate with attendees though workshops, panel discussions and films throughout the festival.
The Spread the Word Tour has added Trinity Hip-Hop Festival to their schedule, which includes performances by two leading protest bands from Zimbabwe, Comrade Fatso & Chabvondoka, and Outspoken and The Essence. The foremost political activist musical group in Southern Africa, and specifically in Zimbabwe, gives the festival attendees extremely rare access to youth activists that live and work on the ground in Zimbabwe. Comrade Fatso blogs for CNN.com about politics and conditions in Zimbabwe (http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/05/14/zimbabwe.blog/index.html). The Mugabe regime has banned their albums from Zimbabwe.
A panel discussion entitled Stereotypes in Hip Hop features Trinity College professors Gail Woldu, author of The Words and Music of Ice Cube, and Emily Musil, Coordinator of African Studies and Co-Chair of the President’s Colloquia “Hip Hop: Roots, Race, Rights.” Stanford’s Angela Steele will present her Fulbright research, Rap in China – In Search of a Hip-Hop Hero. Steele spent a year in China immersed in the emerging hip-hop scene and looking for the leaders who will form hip-hop culture in the world’s most populated country.
New York’s Hired Gun and Washington, D.C.’s Princess of Controversy will host two nights of performances featuring K’naan, Poetic Pilgrimage (UK), Blitz the Ambassador, Mohammed Yahya (UK), BeatburgerBand (Czech Republic), African Underground All-Stars (Senegal), Mr. Reo (Haiti), and Game Rebellion (Brooklyn, New York). Dj Craig G of Hartford’s Hot 93.7 hosts the afterparty on Friday night, and DJ Boo of the Juggaknots hosts the Saturday night afterparty.
The Trinity festival will screen one of 2008’s biggest hip-hop films, Planet B-Boy, a look at five international break dancing crews as they prepare for the world dance championship Battle of the Year in Germany. For the second consecutive year, the festival also will hold a 2-on-2 b-boy battle with a $500 grand prize. This year there will be several new workshops including a beatboxing workshop with Czech Republic’s world champion beatboxers, BeatBurgerBand, and a freestyle rhyming workshop with New York MC Hired Gun. Graffiti artists will be painting murals all day as a backdrop for the workshops and b-boy battle.
The festival will also include a screening of Fangafrika, an African Francophone documentary set during a hip-hop festival in Burkina Faso that gathered a who’s who of African hip-hop addressing the serious issues facing Africans everywhere. The films directors will be on hand for a discussion of activism and education in West African hip-hop. Poetic Pilgrimage, a female Muslim duo from London, will host a discussion about Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East.
Festival Sponsors include Trinity College, Nomadic Wax, The Temple of Hip-Hop (Trinity College Chapter), World Hip Hop Market, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council. Pre-registration is required, and will take place the day of the event at Gallows Hill next to the Austin Arts Center on the campus of Trinity College.