Hip-Hop Takes Center Stage at Trinity’s 12th International Festival

This Year’s Highlights Included Women’s Empowerment Theme and USA-Russia Exchange
By Seth Markle, associate professor of history and international studies and faculty adviser to the Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival

Hartford, Connecticut, April 26, 2017 – If you’ve been following international hip-hop from 2006 to now, chances are you’ve heard of Trinity College. The College’s name has been attached to this global gathering that brings together artists, educators, scholars, activists, and students for three days of lectures, workshops, films, panel discussions, and live performances. During the first week of April, the Trinity Chapter of Temple of Hip Hop, a student-led organization, and its partners (World Hip Hop Market and Nomadic Wax) hosted the 12th Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival. 

Dance Exhibition: Elementalz of Trinity College
Photo by Amanda Macchia, www.megalomandee.com
The festival’s mission has always been unity through hip-hop arts and education. This time around, it sought to enhance the community’s awareness of hip-hop cultures in countries such as Czech Republic, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Brazil, Russia, and Uganda. This year’s festival was particularly special not only because it marked the 10th anniversary of the student-run Trinity Chapter of the Temple of Hip Hop but also because it represented the culmination of “Under the Curtain,” a USA-Russia hip-hop exchange project that brought a Trinity faculty member and student to Russia in February.   

There was much to celebrate and learn about at this year’s fest. The three photo exhibitions were stunning displays on three topics: the impact of graffiti on women throughout the world and the early history of hip-hop in Hartford and in Moscow during the 1980s. With women’s empowerment as the official theme, the festival featured a litany of women artists, from the 10-year-old sensation DJ Kool Flash to hip-hop legend MC Lyte. 

Russian hip hoppers with Carol Any, associate professor of language and culture studies, and her Russian language
Photo by Seth Markle
 Friday got the fest off to a strong start with the Dance Exhibition and B-Boy/B-Girl Battle, which followed a day of informative lectures and workshops. More than 200 people packed into the Washington Room to watch Team 860, Hartford’s premier dance crew, pay tribute to MC Lyte by performing a routine to many of her classic songs. Trinity’s own dance crew, Elementalz, impressed as well with a routine on the evolution of hip-hop dance. The Power Rangers and Anonymous 4 were the winners of the All-Styles and B-Boy/B-Girl Battles, respectively.

On Saturday, the sun finally came out, and people gathered outside the front of Mather Hall for the Youth 4 Change performance showcase starring Hartford’s Gifted Onez, a creative arts organization, and DJ Kool Flash of New York City. In addition to the live music, there was the Graffiti Exhibition on Gates Quad, which featured the work of Behulum of Ethiopia, Dizy One and Komet of India, Hex of Canada, and Hartford-based graffiti writers. To conclude the educational component of the festival, a packed audience watched the North America premiere of Girl Power, a documentary film by Sany, a female writer from the Czech Republic, that addresses women’s roles in the global graffiti movement.

The Washington Room was at full capacity once again during the Main Concert. After amazing performances from hip-hop artists from Hartford; Moscow; Kampala, Uganda; New York City; and Havana, MC Lyte rocked the crowd a little bit after midnight to close out another successful festival.

See you next year!

View more photos from the 2017 festival here.