Third Annual Hip-Hop Festival Heads to Union Square

Hip-hopA photo from the first Evolution of Hip-Hop Festival in 2015, courtesy of Mark Jones.

Rap, spoken word, dance, and visual art will take over Union Square this Sunday at the city’s third Evolution of Hip-Hop Festival.

Yvette Wilks, who runs production company “Wat’s da WURD!” and SCATV show “The Somerville Line,” sparked the annual event when she came to the arts council with her idea for a hip-hop festival.

Wilks says she has loved hip-hop for decades. That passion, mixed with the experience of having teenage kids, gave her the idea for the festival.

The festival will offer everything from break dancing to beatboxing. Visual artists will make graffiti-style art on the spot. Vendors will include the Welcome Project, SelfMade Designs, and Women in Music Boston.

The festival gives local hip-hop artists a chance to showcase their work outside of traditional venue spaces, Special Events Manager for the arts council Nina Eichner says.

“The first year, some of [the performers] were high school students who had grown up in Somerville, so having the chance to perform onstage at this outdoor festival right in the middle of the square was really exciting,” Eichner says. “It’s just developed from that. It really is validating, especially in your own city, to feel like you’re getting a platform and you’re getting a voice.”

Organizers are expecting up to 1,000 people to attend this year’s festival, which will run from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Oompa, Marcela Cruz, Notoriety, and Devin Ferreira are among the 14 musical acts that will take the stage. Three dance crews will also perform, and an “art village” will showcase numerous live artists.

Hip-hop event curator Xperience Creative is helping put on the festival.

Organizers emphasized that the festival is family-friendly and presents a different side of hip-hop culture than many people may be familiar with.

“For me, it allows non-believers or individuals that don’t like hip-hop, it gives it to them in a different light, because it’s not what you’re hearing on the radio,” Wilks says. “The music that the artists are performing is clean musicsomething that is suitable for all ages.”

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