Tucson Hip Hop Festival Celebrates All Elements Of Culture

Tucson Hip Hop Festival

A pocket of life is thriving in the middle of the desert as the Tucson Hip Hop Festival celebrated hip-hop culture this past weekend in the heart of downtown. On Saturday, February 24, the organizers brought together all the elements of hip-hop into one exciting event.

There were outdoor stages for deejays, local rappers and B-Boy crews while wooden blocks were scattered throughout for graffiti artists to showcase their own skills. The headliner was Houston vet Bun B, who gave an energetic 30-minute set, playing hits “Big Pimpin’,” “Sippin on Some Syrup” and “International Players Anthem” while showing plenty of love to his late friend Pimp C.

One of the graffiti artists, Jonny Bubonik, used his contribution to the festival to pay tribute to the legendary UGK member as well.

The Tucson Hip Hop Festival spanned most of the day and brought out a diverse crowd, young and old and from all walks of life. The event seemed to bridge the generational gap as families strolled together through the festivities, older hip-hop heads nodded to the deejays spinning Nas and 2Pac or teenagers danced to the trap sounds being played by their friends on the Producer’s Stage.

Everything was mostly focused on the local scene, from the vendors and food trucks to emphasis on the local rappers and producers. Tommy Will did a great job performing right before Bun B. His lively set had the crowd raising their hands and believing in their dreams.

This event is a significant contrast to Dusk, another festival that showcases more mainstream rap. But there was plenty of relevance to mainstream hip-hop here, too. Besides Bun B headlining, there were nods to the world outside Tucson, including a fan wearing a Free Meek Mill shirt. The panels also widened the scope of the event, having Los Angeles-based journalists Soren Baker and Andres Tardio share their wisdom and New York-via-Miami marketing specialist Ashley Outrageous give her advice on how to make it in the industry.

The festival ran very smoothly. Most things were on time, if not a few minutes early, which is extremely, extremely rare in the hip-hop world. Everyone was friendly, no one was trying to show out. Although there was a little best-dressed competition going on via Instagram, it wasn’t like everyone was showing up dripping in iced-out chains. There was minimal security, which showed the overall feeling of trust among each other and people were there to genuinely enjoy themselves, not make a statement.

This was the second year of the Tucson Hip Hop Festival’s existence. It was a bigger installment as they closed down the street to fit all the stages and vendors. At times, it felt like it was almost too much in too small of a space. The sounds of the outdoor stages blended together because of their close proximity. The fans seemed to get in the way of some of the graffiti artists. The B-Boy stage was right outside of the room hosting the panel discussions, which made it hard to want to leave the excitement there.

The Tucson Hip Hop Festival was a lot of fun and was refreshing to be in a safe space where everything was genuine and organic. They did it big this year and here’s to hoping it keeps growing while maintaining its small-town charm.

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