Save the Date: The Hip Hop South Festival in Chapel Hill: April 22-23, 2022


By Laurie Paolicelli

Now, what you hear is not a test I’m rappin’ to the beat.

Last August, Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) on the University of North Carolina campus announced “Southern Futures,” an initiative that engages artists and community partners in racial equity, social justice, and the American South. Southern Futures seeks to change the conversation about the South from within.

“We believe people can speak for their own part of the world, and we want to give people a platform to tell their own stories… We accept that honesty about the past is necessary to create a bold, new, radically inclusive vision for who we are and who we can be,” write leaders with Southern Futures.

Southern Futures has announced a significant event in Chapel Hill on April 22-23, 2022.

The Hip Hop South Festival

This unique event in Carrboro and Chapel Hill venues will be co-curated by Harvard Nasir Jones Hip Hop Fellows Christopher Massenburg (also known as Dasan Ahanu) and Dr. Regina Bradley. Dr. Regina N. Bradley is a writer and researcher of African American Life and Culture. She is an alumna Nasir Jones HipHop Fellow (Harvard University, Spring 2016) and is the Assistant Professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA. Dr. Bradley’s expertise and research interests include 20th and 21st Century African American Literature, hip hop culture, race and the contemporary U.S. South, and sound studies.

Dr. Regina Bradley is one of the foremost authorities on contemporary Black culture in the American South. “Regina Bradley’s book gives Southern rap the academic treatment it was long overdue.”— Reckon South

The Nasir Jones Hip Hop Fellowship was created in 2013 by The Hip Hop Archives and WEB Du Bois Institute to fund scholars who either show productive scholarship or creative potential in the arts with a connection to hip hop.

Who is Nas?

Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones was born September 14, 1973. Rooted in the New York hip hop scene, he is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time. To his fans, Nasir Jones is simply known as “Nas,” and the multi-platinum Def Jam Recordings artist is admired as one of hip-hop’s most celebrated lyricists.

Local Event Happenings

The festival kicks off Friday, April 22 with a main show at Cat’s Cradle, featuring North Carolina favorites Carolina Waves, Shirlette Ammons, and Rapsody — followed by Turn It Loose, Volume 3 — a late-night B-boy jam at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio, hosted by the Raleigh Rockers, and featuring breakdancing demonstrations and competitions with dance crews from across the region. 

The excitement continues Saturday, April 23 with a main show at Memorial Hall, featuring some of the South’s finest hip hop artists — Radio Rehab, Sa-Roc, and Big Boi — followed by a late-night beat battle at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio, hosted by The Underground Collective, and featuring local luminaries 9th Wonder and the Soul Council, who will provide beat demonstrations and judging. 

Festivalgoers will also enjoy a visual arts experience throughout the two days. “Dirty South Scribes,” an exhibit by Regina Bradley at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio, honors the groundbreaking writers who spotlight Southern rap’s significance. 

“Dirty South Scribes” Exhibit by Dr. Regina Bradley

Friday, April 22 – Saturday, April 23, 2022

10 am – 4 pm and 10 pm – 12 am

CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio

Open to the Public

See the full festival schedule, and purchase tickets, here:

Grandmaster Flash’s turntable. He and his group, the Furious Five, were one of the early hip-hop acts to break into the mainstream with the 1982 single “The Message.”
Credit: National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

A Few Hip Hop Facts:

  • Hip hop is an African-American, Latin American and Caribbean phenomenon developed in Bronx, New York City.
  • Simultaneously hip hop is a new and old movement, which indicates that much of the community revolves around the concept of evolving the historical songs, habits, and perceptions for modern audiences due to the importance of sample tracks, bass lines from old recordings into art form.
  • Hip Hop was born in 1973 somewhere in the Bronx where a birthday celebration was going on. A big change in music started with a little move.
  • At the end of the 1970s, DJ Kool Herc began spinning records for parties. His real innovation came from his assessment of the reaction of spectators to various areas of his track.
  • The word ‘ break dance ‘ was also derived from the breakbeat DJing of Kool Herc. He named the performing “boys” and “girls” as b-boys and b-girls, When they danced, they were represented as “breaking.”
  • By 1979, Hip hop has its first hit. The Sugar Hill Gang has been able to demonstrate “Good Times.” With “Rapper’s Delight,” the Sugar Hill Band has added rap humor and lyrics to classical music. See lyrics to Rapper’s Delight here:

Dr. Regina Bradley (Right) will be part of the April 2022 Hip Hop South festival.

Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.

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