Record high temperatures had nothing on the heat being generated by the b-boys/b-girls, MCs, DJs and graffiti artist gathered at La Raza park yesterday for the Spirit of Hip-Hop Park Jam, hosted by Hip-Hop Congress -- a multi-collegiate college group geared towards bringing hip-hop culture into communities.
Die-hard hip-hop fans live by the idea that there are four true elements of hip-hop: Deejaying, emceeing, break dancing and graffiti, and all of these elements -- which combine together to provide a true sense of unity -- were on display this past Sunday.
According to Hip-Hop Congress VP, Sean Choi -- better known as DJ Lazy Eyez -- the aim of the organization and, subsequently, the Spirit of Hip-Hop Park Jam, is to build the community and promote all aspects of hip-hop culture. Hip Hop Congress aims to bring the focus back to the elements. Mission accomplished. The park jam provided a free, family-friendly meeting of the masses.
DJ Low Key (Radio Bums, The Solution) kicks things off and set the tone early behind the decks with an assortment of some of the best breaks, which were all well received by the early attendees as they stretched and prepared to battle. As the afternoon progressed, Low Key was followed by a parade of some Denver's illest DJs: Stretch, Iz & B-Money, Cysko Rokwel, MF Kaaos (which consists of the vinyl-only toting Dj Kaaos and a live drummer) and DJ Vajra, who just so happened to bring left coast heavy hitter Othello to rock a special impromptu set.
As the emcees held things down, the dancers literally kept the party moving with non-stop freezes, pops and locks, and a special break dancing lesson held on strangely enough, a basketball court. The court saw a lot of footwork, by the dancers, as well as an all-star pick up game with Whygee, D Tha Man and a few other familiar faces. The DJs continued to shine throughout the afternoon, inspiring every single b-boy and b-girl in the place to get down, which prompted casual passersby to stop and observe.
The live performances were no joke. Boombox Saints proved that b-boys do, in fact, stick around when someone picks up the mike. Co-ed duo Soulaju rocked a bilingual set that spoke to the essence of the Chicano people, while 3 the Hardway rocked the spot proper. Mike Wird danced his ass off through out the entire evening, somehow managing to beat everyone on the basketball court, and longtime Denver icon Babah Fly rocked a special collab set. During transitions between DJs, MCs and battles, hosts Dent and Flobots Jonny 5 kept the crowd hyped.
And while all this was going on, Jolt from Guerilla Garden, who was one of the main consultants for the event, pulled together the graffiti element with art from himself as well as Dread, Path One and 2cool. Jolt's piece featured a photographic snapshot of the evening, including b-boys and the native structure that provided the stage for the evening's activities.
Manning the grill, local hip-hop luminaries Mane Rok, Kid Hum, Es-Nine and St. Nick served up burgers and dogs for the hungry crowd without missing a beat. Towards the end of the afternoon, Mane Rok took off his apron and hopped on stage to perform a track with 3 the Hardway.
Judging by the casual conversations overheard ("Wow, I wish this happened every week!" and "Wow, I remembered why I love music today!"), the Spirit of Hip Hop fed the soul of the community. In an era of watered down culture and $20 cover charges, Hip-Hop Congress proved that the spirit of hip-hop deserves to be free.
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