Graffiti Battle: We Are Hip Hop Festival 2011

Despite the heavy rainfall, the graffiti battle presented by the We Are Hip Hop Festival at Dvork Park, in Pilsen, raged on.

The 6th Annual We Are Hip Hop Festival, which took place Saturday August 13, 2011, was disrupted by rain. Emcee Scheme entertained the crowd who huddled under tents and trees avoiding the rain, as vendors concentrated on keeping their merchandise dry. The mission of the festival was community; bunched together listening to the lyricist was the exact atmosphere in mind. All love, no hate.

Due to the weather the much-anticipated graffiti battle was pushed back an hour to 4 pm. Set up along the back wall were tarps that hung and plywood boards primed, spaced out and ready to be painted.

Once the rain stopped, the paint was soon passed out to the artists. When 4:00 came along, the battle was on. Participating in the battle were members from local graff crews CAB, OMN, MUL, WAR, KCM and a few solo artists. The stipulations of the battle were as follows: each participant was to paint the word “power” according to how they perceived it. They were being judged according to how well they captured the essence of the word, not just style, as it normally would be.

As the artists began laying down their preliminary outlines, the crowd flocked towards the wall, as if it were the main event. Everywhere you looked various shades of blue, pink, yellow, red, purple and grey were paving the way to what was a great array of styles.

“Everything’s coming out nice,” says Alberto Barca, 16 from Pilsen, a festival volunteer. “Everything is set up good, you know… it’s a good day.”

Aims MUL, who painted live, didn’t participate in the battle but was interested in seeing the various depictions of “power”. “I just love to paint and any opportunity I get to paint is a wonderful time,” he says.

“Power, I think is self-empowerment if you think of it in a community sense. That’s self-awareness,” says Slang, Chicago graffiti legend from the West Side, who also participated in the battle.

“I like the wild styles and all the colors they use for detail and the cuts they make. It just makes it look dope,” says Barca.

Some people that have never really gotten into graffiti art or the Hip Hop culture were also amazed. It was great exposure to kids as well as adults who otherwise would not pay attention to it.

“There’s a lot of families out here, it’s beautiful. Kids taking pictures in front of the pieces,” says Slang.

Edgar Juarez, 15 from Pilsen, came to the event to enjoy the music, be with the people and check out some art. He truly enjoyed the pieces. “I like the ones that have blends in them,” he says with excitement.

It started to rain slightly throughout the battle, but luckily the paint did not drip. By the time the artist added their outlines to the letters you understood of how each person’s style reflected their own personalities.

“It goes back and forth with styles. Everything is influencing everything now, so it’s everything turned in and coming back in and around itself,” says Slang giving his opinion on the newer styles of today.

Although the battle wasn’t over, everyone who was there clearly saw that Post of CAB and Don’t of MUL were the favorites to win. They, along with several others, were not done yet, but close to it.

One by one the participants finished, stepping away from their pieces either seeing what their peers have done or going to see what the rest of the festival had to offer.

After a performance in the rain by Pro Arts Studio’s dance class, the judges deliberated. As everyone stood around waiting to hear the winner, anticipation kept growing. Bel KCM was pronounced the winner, pulling off an upset victory.

All love, no hate.

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