HARTFORD — Jean Grae will headline the sixth annual Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival, the first and largest international hip-hop festival in the United States, on April 1 and 2.
Grae, a leading female hip-hop artist, will perform as part of a weekend-long educational and cultural experience on the Trinity College campus. The student-created festival was headlined by KRS-One of New York in 2010 and K’Naan of Somalia in 2009. The event is free and open to the public.
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Grae is the daughter of South African jazz musicians, Sathima Bea Benjamin and Abdullah Ibrahim. She studied Vocal Performance at the LaGuardia School of Music & Art before majoring in Music Business at New York University. Signed under Talib Kweli’s Blacksmith Records in 2005, Grae has recorded tracks with notable hip-hop artists, such as Kweli, The Roots, Mos Def, Ne-Yo, and others. The weekend event, hosted by the ReMinders, will also feature performances by Omar Offendum (Syria/USA), Amkoullel (Mali), Emicida (Brazil), and Eekwol (Canada).
In addition to a b-boy and b-girl battle and an urban art and photography exhibition, the festival will feature several workshops and classes, including an African Studies and French in-class workshop led by Amkoullel and Marie- Agnes “mab” Beau. Amkoullel, a performing artist at the event, is the grandson of Amadou Hampate Ba, a prominent African historian, and Beau is a pioneer in promoting global urban cultures worldwide as a psychologist and social activist with 27 years of experience in the international music industry. A Women’s Studies lecture and Q&A session will be held by Anna Oravcova (Czech) and Cat ‘B-girl Kit- Cat’ Young (Scotland). In addition, Omar Offendum will present a lecture on Middle East Studies.
On Friday, a delegates dinner will include a keynote speech by T. Tomas Alvarez, entitled: “Beats, Rhymes & Life: Hip Hop as a Catalyst for Change and Development.” Alvarez founded Beat, Rhymes & Life and believes in promoting change from the ground up, with the theory that using the process of creating hip-hop music in a group setting can be an effective model for teaching youth.
Other workshops include graffiti painting with Mejah Mbuya (Tanzania) and a music video shoot with Magee McIlvaine (Trinity ’06), one of the original founders of the festival. There will also be a panel discussion on “The Healing Power of Hip Hop” with Gaston “Cenzi” Gabarro, Minister Server, Carol O’Connor, and one of the featuring artists of the hip-hop festival, Eekwol – a member of Muskoday First Nation and Mils Productions.
Twenty MCs will have an artist showcase with DJ Nio from Italy, and a film screening of Bouncing Cats and Hiplife in Ghanawill be shown followed by a question & answer session with director Eli Jacobs Fantauzzi. Red Bull’s Bouncing Cats is a film about one man’s mission to give hope to Children in Uganda through breakdancing. Fantauzzi has traveled extensively in the Caribbean and Africa and has produced and directed several short films and music videos.
Another panel discussion on “Hip Hop and a New Global Horizon” will feature Vijay Prashad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian Studies and Professor of International Studies at Trinity; Rosa Clemente, a community organizer and journalist; Jlove Calderon, an author, educator, and activist; and Omar Offendum, a Syrian-American MC and Producer.
The main performance is on Sat., April 2 at 9 p.m., and runs until 2 a.m. Doors will open at 8 p.m. No registration is necessary, but admittance is on a first come, first serve basis.