JOSEPH DIBACCO ’19
Back in 2006, a group of Trinity students founded the Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival, and it has now grown into the largest of its kind in the United States. Trinity students coordinate the event every year in tandem with World Hip Hop Market, Temple of Hip Hop, Notable Productions, and other major players in the international hip-hop scene. A few noteworthy performers at this event in past years were Rakim, Brother Ali, and Talib Kweli. In 2009, K’Naan, the Somalian hip-hop artist whose “Wavin’ Flag” was the official promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, performed at the Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival.
As a free music festival that is open to the public, the Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival attempts to promote community development and understanding of far-away cultures through artistic expression. The three founders, Jason Azevedo, Magee McIlvaine, and Ben Herson explained that they created the festival to “combat the disunity, segregation, and violence of Hartford, CT and Trinity College using the historically-educational and politically revolutionary medium – hip-hop – and focusing on its global potency and proliferation to unify Trinity College, the city of Hartford, and the Globe.”
The true inspiration for the festival’s founding was education. While rap in the United States perpetually revolves around the triumvirate of money, sex, and drugs, rap from other countries is more political and almost always conveys some coherent message. Performances from artists hailing from around the world open viewers’ eyes to the power of song and dance to be more than just aesthetically pleasing.
The headliner of the 2017 Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival is MC Lyte, who will be performing on Saturday night in the Washington Room above Mather Hall. The first female hip-hop artist to perform in the White House, MC Lyte is so much more than a musician. She is also a talented DJ, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. MC Lyte is on the Board of Trustees at Dillard University in Brooklyn, NY and she also was the first rap artist ever to perform at Carnegie Hall. She was the first female solo rapper to be nominated for a Grammy and to be inducted into VH-1’s Hip Hop Honors.
Besides MC Lyte, this year’s festival includes performers from countries all around the world, such as Russia, Cuba, Canada, Uganda, and the Philippines. Additionally, there will be over a dozen presenters of international renown, including Dizy One of India, Sany of the Czech Republic, Behulum of Ethiopia, and David Omni of Cuba, to name a few.
Other notable events this year are lectures on Islamic black America, Brazilian graffiti, and Cuban political messages conveyed through song. One of the major attractions is the North American premiere of “Girl Power”, a documentary made by Sany about female graffiti artists from 15 cities, a list that includes Prague, Cape Town, Sydney, Madrid, and Berlin. The idea motivation of the documentary is to show how women have broken down barriers in the world of graffiti, which has for a long time been thought of as a man’s art.
The 2017 Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival is scheduled for Thursday, April 6th through Sunday, April 9th. All events are free of charge and open to anyone interested.
JOSEPH DIBACCO ’19