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This Year’s Portland Hip-Hop Week Has Restructured Due to Rising COVID-19 Cases

Several indoor events have now been condensed into one outdoor concert.

Hip-Hop Week has announced some major restructuring of this year’s festival.

Several indoor events—including Mic Check, which was scheduled to kick off this year’s celebration today—have now been condensed into one outdoor concert. Mic Check, the annual Star Awards and two other events have been rolled into a free, all ages festival that will take place outside, in a lot along Water Avenue next Thursday.

“What we decided to do is for some of the indoor events, we’re going to combine them into a one day festival event to provide some space where it’s safer for people,” Hip-Hop Week co-founder DJ O.G. One said in an announcement on social media. “We can still practice COVID protocols, but with less of a hassle.”

According to O.G. One, new COVID precautions required by venues—like proof of vaccination or negative test—caused last minute complications.

“I’m all for the vaccine, but so close to the event, it just got super crazy,” he tells WW. “Hip-Hop Week is about people coming together in a positive way and building community. I didn’t want any conflict.”

Initially Portland Hip-Hop Day, the annual celebration was founded by O.G. One and late promoter Idris “StarChile” O’Ferrall in 2015. It grew into a multi-day event in 2019, expanding from just concerts to a wide range of events celebrating the local hip-hop community.

After an all-digital event last year, this year marks Hip-Hop Week’s return to in person shows. But this week brought several last minute changes.

On Monday, organizers announced that all indoor events will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken with 48 hours of each performance.

Then, on Tuesday, Mic Check announced that its showcase had been indefinitely postponed. Along with kicking off Hip-Hop Week, it would’ve been the longstanding showcase’s first in-person show since the pandemic, and the release show for local trio Boom Bap Project’s first album in 15 years.

O.G. One tells WW that with COVID cases on the rise, some performers expressed concern about performing indoors.

“When [Mic Check pulled out], it was like, this is going to be a domino effect” says O.G. One. But “When we moved it outside, the performers were like, we’re all in.”

Hip-Hop Week locked down its outdoor venue just yesterday, not long before announcing its new plan. Boom Bap Project, along with over a dozen other Pacific Northwest artists, will play the outdoor festival. There will also be food vendors, graffiti artists and awards presented throughout the day. Masks are strongly encouraged.

Given the event’s quick turn around, a few details are still in the works.

“It is wild,” says O.G. One. “But hey, it’s for the people, so I’m willing to make it work.”

The festival will take place on Aug. 26 starting at 6 pm. You can find more information on the concert, and the rest of Hip-Hop Week’s schedule, on the event’s website.