The hip hop festival coming to Charlottesville throughout next week hopes to promote an inclusive view of hip hop with a Tuesday night showcase featuring LGBTQ artists.
Charlottesville’s third annual Nine Pillars Hip Hop Cultural Fest is happening next week, and for the first time, it will feature an all-LGBTQ performer showcase.
“We’re cutting out all of the divides — if you got bars, you got bars,” said Remy St. Clair, the showcase host and co-founder of Nine Pillars. The week-long festival celebrates the nine pillars of hip-hop with rap battles, a DJ competition, a fashion show, and more.
Tuesday night’s Rugged Arts showcase will shine the spotlight on LGBTQ members of the hip-hop community.
“What we want to do with Rugged Arts, and with Nine Pillars, is be very refreshing, and be able to showcase those sides of hip-hop that aren’t necessarily pushed forward,” St. Clair said. “And they should be — because everyone has a voice, everyone deserves to be heard.”
Last year the Rugged Arts showcase featured all women. “DJs, hosts, everything from the ground up — all home grown,” St. Clair said.
St. Clair, who has hosted the C-Ville Pride Festival for three years, said he’s excited to bring energy to the LGBTQ showcase.
“It’s good to be part of those events where my sexuality is celebrated,” St. Clair said.
The hip-hop community is seen by most as less than accepting of people who identify as LGBTQ.
“That’s something we’re steadily trying to get over — that stigma that hip-hop has towards the lifestyle of being part of the LGBTQ community,” St. Clair said.
However, for hip-hop in Charlottesville, it’s always been about the music.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to be in the city where as far as in our community goes, artists just don’t care,” St. Clair said. “They just want to make good music, and everything else is second.”
Several LGBTQ performers are featured at this year’s Rugged Arts showcase, including Richmonders Noah Page and Dogfuck (aka Dog[friend], for public flyering purposes), but the show is about giving them a platform and the opportunity to use their voice. Inclusivity is the goal, rather than dividing the hip-hop genre into many tiny subgenres.
“It shouldn’t be gay-hip-hop, it shouldn’t be homo-hip-hop. Those are just hashtags, we’re not going to give it that [label],” St. Clair said. “It’s hip-hop, it’s pure hip-hop.”
Charlottesville as a whole is still working to recover from the damage done to the city less than two years ago, when the events of the white nationalist Unite the Right Rally shook the city. The death of Heather Heyer and the assault of DeAndre Harris are still fresh. For St. Clair and the hip-hop community, healing from these events means “sticking together and steadily growing.”
“The artists who are allies, the artist who aren’t necessarily allies and the artists who are open and a part of the lifestyle have been working together to create music to heal and get over August 12th,” St. Clair said.
As healing continues, Nine Pillars and Rugged Arts will stay active in bringing communities together while celebrating the hip-hop culture and lifestyle.
“We’re here. We’re open. We understand,” said St. Clair. “We know — and here’s a microphone to talk about it.”
Nine Pillars Hip Hop Cultural Fest runs from Monday, April 22 to Sunday, April 28. The Rugged Arts X Nine Pillars All-LGBTQ showcase takes place on Tuesday, April 23 at Charlottesville’s Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar.
Nine Pillars may be happening in Charlottesville, but St. Clair said Richmond should look out. “We have plans on branching out to Richmond, so we’ll be seeing y’all soon.”