Six years ago, Daniel Ash decided he wanted to have a party. He decided he wanted to have a party that brought people together to swim a little bit in the Culture of Hip Hop. He recognized that Hip Hop, like Jazz and Rock and Roll before it, was a dominant cultural influencer - and that it was fun. And vibrant. And political.
This January 26th, WBEZ and Vocalo present the 5th Annual Winter Block Party for Chicago's Hip Hop Arts. Every year, we have upped the ante - from a first class graffiti art gallery that encompassed all of the Biograph Theater (2009) to a panel discussion between the originators of both Hip Hop and House music in Chicago (2011) to a blow-out B-Boy/B-Girl Dance Battle complete with a living documentary of the art form (2012). This year, we up the ante once again.
As always, the daytime events are completely free of any admission price. From the return of the B-Boy/B-Girl Dance Battles (run and judged by Waka of the Legendary Brickheadz Crew) to The Public Square's presentation of Hip Hop-infused theater, we are also screening "Benji" - the 2012 documentary film about the short life and 1984 death of Chicago South Side basketball player Ben Wilson - as well as welcoming Grown Folk Stories to the festivities for the first time.
As you swing by the METRO on that cold, winter day, you will also have the opportunity to grab some merchandise from some of Chicago's local Hip Hop boutiques (including GoWhereHipHop, Vintage Boss, Iddy Id Designs and CityofWin), get a fade haircut, check out the art gallery curated by Miguel Aguilar of Defiance Gallery and catch some of the city's hottest DJ's curated by none other than Jesse De La Pena.
We start the thing at noon and it's free to the public until 6PM.
At 7:00pm, we re-open the place for an epic concert that includes performances by NoName, Saba, Psalm One, Add 2 and the group known as Lupe Fiasco's favorite local Hip Hop act, Sidewalk Chalk. All hosted by Vocalo's Supremely Cool Jesse Menendez and the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors Kevin Coval.
I'll be blogging about all of these elements as the days of January unfold, but if your appetite for Hip Hop is piqued already, buy some tickets to the evening. Then get some rest on the 25th because it will be Hip Hop all day and all night on the 26th!
In the meantime, here's the official video of Sidewalk Chalk's "The Water Song":