Free Hip Hop Festival “808s in the 608” Will Highlight Local Artists

Free Hip Hop Festival “808s in the 608” Will Highlight Local Artists

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A free hip-hop festival showcasing local and university artists is being presented for a fourth year under a new name, 808s in the 608, on Saturday, August 12.

Formerly known as Hip Hop Fest — not to be confused with Hip Hop Fest at Majestic — the festival is a collaboration between Urban Community Arts Network (UCAN), the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD), First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community, Intellectual Ratchet and Madison365. It is geared towards young and upcoming artists from the Madison area.

“Wisconsin has been picking up a lot of traffic regarding the talent we have here on the Hip Hop scene,” said Brandon Phouybanhdyt of WUD. “We want to put the spotlight on artists who haven’t gotten as much traffic.”

The performance line-up will consist of six artists: Ra’ Shaun, Tas Raww, The Pro, Landon Devon, P. Swagger, Hanks and Rich Robbins. Two of the artists, The Pro and Robbins, are from the university community and the rest are local. Platinum-selling producer DJ Pain 1 will also be DJing the entire festival.

“We try to diversify it and not have anyone that’s an established name,” said UCAN Vice President Mark “ShaH” Evans. “We always try to look for younger students because they’re just starting out.”

Though this isn’t the first music festival of its kind, organizers from UCAN believe it’s important given some misconceptions and stereotypes regarding hip-hop shows, which has resulted in hip-hop being excluded from local venues, despite a recent study that found no correlation between hip-hop and violence.

“Local artists have trouble getting booked here sometimes because of their content, but college students will run to like a Freddie Gibbs concert which has rougher content.,” Evans said. “You run into a lot of politics and this eliminates the politics.”

The concert will take place at the Memorial Union Terrace and Evans hopes that having a university venue on their resumes will make it easier for artists to book other local venues and universities.

“If I’m an artist and the University of Wisconsin-Madison trusts me to perform there, what reason does a venue have to say no?” he said.

He also hopes the largely white crowd that attends Terrace performances and the diverse range of ages will dispel myths about Hip Hip music and performances in the city.

“They get to rock in front of a demographic made up of mostly white people ranging in age from 10 to 60-plus,” Evans said. “This is not just a good look for these artists, but another way to prove to the city that hip hop is not the issue.”

In addition to the experiential benefits for artist, the performers will also be compensated.

“We’re running through all the normal steps that we would run through for a normal show and we’re making sure on the day of they’re getting the same exact treatment as anyone else coming to Madison to play a show,” said Phouybanhdyt.

Though all of the artist will be hip hop, they will all still be distinct in their sound and sub genres.

“Just because you’re not rapping about the same things doesn’t mean you can’t rock the same stage and think each other are dope,” Evans said.

The festival will be held on August 12 at 9 pm.

“Every other genre here has an opening except for Hip Hop. Madison has festivals and Hip Hop usually isn’t included, so this just another way to keep the ball rolling,” Evans said. “Hip Hop is alive and well in this city.”

Written by Jordan Gaines

Jordan Gaines

Jordan Gaines is a cultural critic and Madison365 contributor.

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