There is only one word to describe Epic Fest: unity. Thanks to Slapdash and sponsors like Rumors Boutique, Kulture, West Coast Kix, and more, this two-day festival featured acts from all around Virginia, as well as a few from out-of-state. Norfolk, NOVA, and even Virginia Beach showed Richmond a lot of love and support.
Epic Fest 2012
Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30 at Kingdom
There is only one word to describe Epic Fest: unity. Thanks to Slapdash and sponsors like Rumors Boutique, Kulture, West Coast Kix, and more, this two-day festival featured acts from all around Virginia, as well as a few from out-of-state. Norfolk, NOVA, and even Virginia Beach showed Richmond a lot of love and support. Even vendors, including Chris Haskins and Irvin “DOE” Henderson’s YFD, Britt Sebastian’s Wealth of Knowledge, and Hi Collar Scholars’s O.L.O (Optimize Limited Opportunity) clothing lines, were selling their merchandise throughout the event. Through the trials and tribulations of the weather, hosts Cain McCoy and Octavion Xcellence gave the crowd hope to keep the show going. They weren’t always successful in this goal (power issues ended Friday’s show a bit earlier than scheduled), but still maintained a positive atmosphere throughout. When you put both days together, it was hip hop at its finest. Epic Fest was truly epic.
As the day started, everyone was a little restless from the 100 degree weather. The show started a little later than scheduled, with Cain McCoy taking the stage. Kicking off the show, he tore it down for the people that had showed up early. This was not the first time I had seen him on stage. He brings a great amount of energy every time he touches the mic. Cain also has a good crowd participation ethic, as he demonstrated when he performed a song called “Show Me” where he gets the crowd to chant the title. I definitely was with the crowd on this track. This was a great way to start off the show.
Another act who really showed us what Richmond is about was Young Richmond Outkasts. Every time they grace the stage they take over the crowd and bring the energy to the room. I even got to hop on stage with the crew. They performed a new song, which features local emcee’s Young Rell and Vonmilli, called “She’s My Rebound B**ch,” which had a lot of crowd participation. Another act, which I actually walked back in to find onstage, caught my attention as soon as I heard him. Peter Maher is definitely one of my favorites that I have heard thus far. His style reminds me of the Beastie Boys, or even Asher Roth. He is very animated and has a very distinctive flow, as he showed on his song “Work.” I was very entertained the whole night, and with acts like DOE the Paperboy, So Proper Entertainment, and even Dr. Millionaire (formerly Isaiah and Hovey), how could I not be?
Then there was Just Plain Sounds. Their set tore the house down. When you have Sleaze, James Dangle, Nyce, Ankh Trinity, Ohbliv, and Damaged Andy onstage, be prepared for an extraordinary performance. Sleaze dropped the single from his album Heavenly/Devilish entitled “The Passion of Sleaze,” and immediately had the crowd rocking. Due to the video he’d dropped only hours before, I could see why. James Dangle hit us with songs from his album One Time I Knew. In the midst of the crowd rocking with them, they shut the power down due to the fierce storms that were brewing. I was literally in mid-air when they cut the power. You could see the disappointment in everyone’s faces, but thanks to Kingdom’s fast tactics, they evacuated the club so everyone could get home safe. Overall the night was amazing, and unfortunately ended at the peak of the show.
After a night full of storms and what Cain McCoy described as a scene from Michael Jackson’s video for “Smooth Criminal,” the show continued. Due to the weather forecast and the problems caused by storms the night before, Slapdash decided to start the event at 3pm. Kingdom booking agent So Illa stated, “I’m not gonna stop this event until the lights go completely off.” The storms that came that night didn’t stop the show from going on, though. Instead the event took a couple of extended pauses, during which DJ Finesse and DJ RNS played a mix of hip hop and even a little old school, which went over well due to the energy and vibes of the crowd. I loved seeing a club unifying and dancing together for the breaks. It brings hope for more hip hop events like this to happen in the RVA.
The hosts of the day were two of the most entertaining hosts I have seen. These ladies call themselves The Respectable. The energy from the previous show certainly carried over to the next day, which started off with a group from both Richmond and DC called T.I.M.E Moves, who’d been scheduled to perform the night before. This group particularly surprised me because it’s a live band with a lead emcee, which was a good change of pace for the crowd. They did a lot of familiar covers of 90s songs, like Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You” and Southern rappers 8 Ball and MJG’s “You Don’t Want Drama,” which had the crowd chanting the title back the band. I really had a good time (pun intended) with their performance, and see potential for longevity from this talented group of artists.
The next artist that got my attention was an emcee out of Fredericksburg named Cane. Just his energy alone kept me tuned in as he did some covers of familiar mainstream songs. His original tracks were superb, and his aura showed in his live performances. One song in particular called “Big,” which pays tribute to The Notorious BIG, Big L and Big Pun, was one of the best tributes I have ever heard to the late greats. I hope to see him here again.
Another artist that caught my eye was an emcee named Wrighteous. He hails from North Stafford, and definitely is a crowd favorite. I take it he has been to RVA before, because the crowd knew his songs. He has such a great stage presence and an ear for real Hip Hop. His style reminds me a lot of De La Soul, mixed with a little Lupe Fiasco. He has a lot of fun on stage, and with help from some of his comrades from the same area, he branded his mark on the RVA. Another Northern Virginia emcee who calls himself JA-P also dominated the stage with his eye-catching performance. I have been following his music for a few years now, and I was very pleased to finally see him on stage. He is one reason I can say that hip hop is not dead, like some might say. One song he performed, called “Somethin’ Slight,” had the crowd rocking to the chorus, and the familiar sample. He also performed a song where he had confetti dropped from above him onstage as he rhymed to the crowd.
Many more performers that day had a great stage presence, from Chance Fischer, who brought out a “monk” and people with water guns, to Chris Haskins bringing his son on stage with him as a hype man. To end the show, Suburban District, ConRizzle and Tokyo Ave, Arktik Phreeze, and Mr. Ivory Snow took the stage. These acts, who were headliners of the event, let every other act go before them, which limited the crowd, but still unified and showed what real hip hop is about. They finished the show and ended the night as the time ran close to 3 AM. This was definitely an epic night for the city.
Overall this Epic Fest was one to remember, from the 50 different performers to Mother Nature’s wrath. I can say one thing about hip hop–you can’t stop it. The fellowship of artists from across the state proved that, over two days of memorable and remarkable acts. The show was the essence of unity.
Words by Roger Tyler
Images by Marc Cheatham/originally appeared at thecheatsmovement.com