When the mayor's office proclaimed Oct. 15 "Hip-Hop Day" in Portland, it created a heated debate in the local rap community. Was this a genuine acknowledgement of hip-hop culture—a culture that's often seemed unwelcome by the city at large—or merely pandering on the part of Charlie Hales? Were the artists who agreed to perform as part of the inaugural ceremony representing the strength of a scene finally coming into its own or acting as willing pawns in a political game? Would this actually change anything in terms of how hip-hop is policed in the Rose City?
Those questions persist. But yesterday at City Hall, the vibe was purely celebratory. Organizer Idris "StarChile" Oferrall, acknowledged that this is merely "the first step," hinting at more ambitious plans for the future, including potentially taking the event down to the waterfront. And with performances from MCs Vinnie Dewayne, Mic Capes and Jon Belz—plus a turntable showcase featuring DJs Wels, Juggernaut and Lady X—you couldn't argue that the scene wasn't well-represented in this inaugural outing.
Dustin Tolman captured the scene for WW in the following video: