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Discover Real Hip Hop at Trinity International Hip Hop Festival
24 Apr 2012 10:38 PM
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Discover Real Hip Hop at Trinity International Hip Hop Festival
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A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune of attending the 7th Annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. If you are not familiar with this grand event then you have been missing out on some of the best emceeing in one arena the world has to offer, as was the case with me prior to March 31st. The TIHHF was created by some Trinity College alum, and has had many great artists on the roster including Blitz the Ambassador, Jean Grae and KRS-1.

Check out this recap by the One Sun Lion Ra!



This year's event would add Brother Ali to the list of features. There were 3 days of events, however I will be giving the Ra perspective/ my POV since I was only able to experience the last day's schedule. 

Trinity Hip Hop Festival

My first thoughts of Trinity College upon arriving was how beautiful the campus was, lots of wide open spaces and cathedral style architecture. The first event I would attend would be the freestyle class lead by an MC named Hired Gun (Brooklyn). He was teaching the young and old newcomers to Hip Hop how to write their own rhymes and count bars. Enthusiastic in his approach, he invited any and everyone including those who already emcee to participate. After about 10 minutes of writing, everyone would get into a circle (cipher) and kick their 4bar rhymes, some written and some off the top of the head. After allowing everyone to go twice (second time for comfort) you could see that there were definitely some new MCs born out of that one seminar.

Hired Gun

After the cipher he set up a contest where teams of two would compete for freestyle dominance and bragging rights. It was kind of like a game of taboo. One rapper gets to see the word to be guessed while the other half of the duo is not allowed to know what the key word is. The clued in rapper then has to set up a 2 bar rhyme so as to help his/her partner guess the key word ie; If the key word is "oil" one might use "I turn on the pot to let the water boil, and when I cook my veggies I use canola _______." The game was a lot of fun and the winners left with a score of 7 different key words guessed.

Next came the DMC Hartford regional DJ battle hosted by DJ Fatfingaz, in which there were djs from all over the world in attendance. I  can't remember all of the names of the DJ's who participated (blame it on the sleep deprivation + the long drive up from Philly). But there were records literally being thrown about and even broken. a plethora of middle fingers for any opposing Turntablist/DJ and groovy beats being cut up, blended, diced, sliced, juggled and julienned. Connecticut was represented well. my particular favorite was this DJ from Middletown (his name escapes me), who concentrated more on the music, than the tricks. He had some dope tricks as well but the people were really moving to everything he threw on. I actually prefer that dj's keep good music in mind when they spin and not just throw on a bunch of snippets and sound bites. All in all it was a great display of talented turntablism.  That takes me over to the first rap showcase of that night, a local and underground Hip Hop showcase hosted by Self Suffice. 

Self Suffice strikes me as a real Hip Hop purist/revolutionary he definitely has a lot of knowledge and history in the game when it comes to CT Hip Hop. The only downside to this year's showcase was that it took the sound system a little time to get set up after breaking down the DMC DJ battle set up that most of the people left by the time the show was started. However, this didn't stop the MCs from rocking for the other MCs in attendance and the few loyal fans who stayed. Yours truly even got up and rocked a quick song for "the peoples!" One thing I learned from hanging with that crowd of MCs is that CT definitely has love for real lyrics and real performance skills. I will definitely be needing to make a trip back just to experience the Hartford Hip Hop scene. 

Next we have the actual main show, this would be the grand finale of the 7th Annual TIHHF. And since this is the Ra-POV of the TIHHF I will give you the artists that left an impression on me and reasons why. First we can start with the Narcy (Iraq/Canada) aka the Narcicyst who hosted along side Suheir Muhammad (Palestine/USA). Narcy is a crazy emcee with a lot of charisma on the stage, you see this as he's hosting as well and when he's doing his set. At one point Narcy had the whole crowd doing the two step with him. It was an brilliant display of skills to say the least.


Another group that left a great vibe in my soul would be Native Sun (Mozambique/UK). Native Sun (Mohammed Yahya and Sarina Leah) is a male/female duo that come together and combine rap and song seamlessly and beautifully. Add that to the deep base and melodic grooves in their songs and you've got yourself some splendid Hip Hop soul right there. Not to mention the fact that Sarina looks beautiful, which is always a plus. 


We now come to a powerful boom bap style Hip Hop group called Sweatshop Union (Canada) , I counted about six of them on stage. These cats came out color coordinated and lyrically syncronized with each other! Each person who's turn it was to spit would move to the center of the group. This particular set was high energy with even the DJ jumping up and down behind his tables and then coming down to kick a verse or two as well. I can honestly say if these cats were to go mainstream, they could help revolutionize Hip Hop in many ways as there are no other notable active rap groups in the forefront that come to mind. Seeing Sweatshop Union jumping up in down in unison and having fun while putting on a banging performance was something I would recommend to anyone complaining about Hip Hop being "dead" or "totally negative".

The last group that really moved me was a duo by the name of Los Rakas (Panama/USA), these two came out straight fire from the gate. I was feeling their songs and I hardly understood a word they were saying because it was mostly done in Spanish! That's how dope they were! I didn't even know what they were saying but they rocked it! They even did a "Los Rakas-Spanish" remix of a Snoop Dogg song, I believe it was "Gin and Juice". They had the whole crowd jumping. It was another one of those times where you ask yourself, "Why am I just now witnessing this fire?!"  And as if that wasn't enough, at the end of the show, Narcy asks all of the emcees in attendance to come up and spit 8 bars for the crowd! And you know I had to get up on stage and do my thing! The energy from my little 2 seconds of semi-fame plus the positive vibes and powerful performances in the main show was enough to get me halfway through my 5 hour drive (avoiding tolls) back to Philly with out needing a liquid stimulant! I must give a shout to Diallo, Magee, Greg, Martina, and the good people of Cornell West Theory! You guys made my March! This is The One Sun Lion Ra with his POV on The TIHHF. To find out more about this great annual event you can go to


Filed in: Exclusive
Updated: 07 Apr 2013 11:37 PM
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