Editor’s note: This article was originally published August 4, 2014
On June 17, Austin Mic Exchange founders Adam Protextor and Leah Manners took the stage at their weekly open mic at Spider House Ballroom to announce plans for the inaugural Weird City Hip Hop Festival, a two-night, three-day event scheduled to take place September 26-28 at Empire ATX, Holy Mountain, Red 7, Beerland and the North Door. The crowd of hip hop artists in the room went wild.
The lineup for the event is still developing but today, the festival team revealed the first round of artists, a diverse group that demonstrates the organizers’ ambitious reach. The festival will kick off on Friday, Sept. 26 with a showcase at Empire Garage featuring NYC rappers Pharoahe Monch and Jean Grae. Grae has long been heralded as one of the fiercest females in underground hip hop and Monche’s new album "P.T.S.D." which dropped in April is one of the smartest hard-hitting hip hop releases of 2014. Next door at Empire Control Room, the fest will feature a special edition of the monthly Body Rock dance party. Local hosts Riders Against the Storm and Chorizo Funk will be joined by Cali.-based electro-funk specialist, dance floor wrecker and Snoop Dogg collaborator, Dam-Funk.
Saturday’s lineup will include critically acclaimed Detroit artist Black Milk and Los Angeles rapper Open Mike Eagle. The roster of local artists performing at the fest is sure to grow but standouts Magna Carda and League of Extraordinary Gz have already signed on and Matt Sonzala’s Pushermania is down to host a Texas hip hop showcase. In addition, the festival will host a kid’s rap camp for high school students directed by local DJ school Dub Academy.
Protextor, who raps as P-Tek and Manners, who hosts 91.7 FM KOOP Radio’s weekly Hip Hop Hooray show have been hustling behind the scenes to bring the city’s first dedicated festival to fruition. In addition Aaron Miller, a lifetime Austinite and hip hop fan who describes himself as "a professional nightlife dude" and Jonathan Mahone, who raps under the name Chaka Mandla Mhambi Mpeanaji in the popular local hip hop duo Riders Against the Storm have been instrumental in putting the festival together.
A community-oriented artist, Mahone was inspired to see Austin Mic Exchange "stepping forward and being like, ‘We’re just gonna go out on limb here and push’" to bring a dedicated hip hop festival to Austin. He was quick to jump in and lend his services. "In my opinion (this is about) artists stepping up and saying ‘No, we’re gonna invest in ourselves. Fun Fun Fun Fest isn’t enough for us. ACL ain’t enough for us. SXSW ain’t enough for us. We need something committed to (hip-hop) and we’re gonna step up and we’re gonna do it,’" he said recently.
Weird City Hip Hop Festival
When: Sept. 26-28, 2014
Where: Empire ATX, Holy Mountain, Beerland, Red 7 and the North Door
Partial lineup: Pharoahe Monch, Jean Grae, Black Milk, Dam-Funk, Guilty Simpson, Open Mike Eagle, Riders Against the Storm, League of Extraordinary Gz, Magna Carda, Sip Sip, Boombaptist, Exploded Drawing, Spacecamp Death Squad.
Tickets: A limited number of $50 early bird passes are available on the event’s Indiegogo page at igg.me/at/weirdcityfest.