“SOURCE360 Expo,” a three-day hip-hop festival, will have its inaugural run later this month across multiple venues throughout Downtown Brooklyn. Panel discussions, conferences, art, fashion, film, and other activities will be topped off by a Barclays Center reunion concert of the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as performances by Diplomats and Lil’ Kim, among others.
Borough President Eric Adams convened a press conference at Borough Hall Wednesday morning to announce the event, which is being held in partnership with The Source Magazine and The NorthStar Group.
“Brooklyn is now the heart of hip hop,” Adams said, while respectfully noting that he was the “second generation of Borough Presidents” behind Ruben Diaz, Jr., of rap’s birthplace in the Bronx. “This festival represents everything great about hip-hop’s culture and community–it will showcase the production side and responsible side of the industry.”
Adams added how hip-hop was often a means for Brooklyn youth to portray their “rich urban experience” while positively engaging with the community.
The press conference included an eclectic gathering of cultural tastemakers, from L. Londell McMillian, founder of The Source Magazine, Bobbito Garcia a.k.a. Kool Bob Love, Johnny Marines, manager of Romeo Santos, Jason Flom, CEO of Lava Records, Vinny Cha$e and Kid Art of the rap group Cheer$ Club, April Walker, CEO of Walker Wear, Raje Shware Queen, a Bollywood music artist, and Onida Coward Mayers, director of voter assistance with the NYC Campaign Finance Board.
“Hip hop is music, but now also art, film, fashion and sports,” said L. Londell McMillian, founder of The Source Magazine. “Brooklyn is the heartbeat of this culture, a multi-cultural and multi-generational place where this festival should find its home.”
McMillan added a note of history, reminding the audience how the Source Magazine was founded by two Harvard students in 1988, to demonstrate how culture can come from anywhere.
“The social reach of this culture is very important, and social issues are important,” McMillan said. “We need to reflect on that and we will reflect on that, to make this a positive contribution.”
Onida Coward Mayers, director of voter assistance with the NYC Campaign Finance Board, echoed McMillan’s sentiments.
“There are people calling for justice across the country,” Mayers said, implying recent events in places like Ferguson, Missouri. Mayers also touched on topics from voter suppression to low voter turnout in New York State, and the need for hip hop culture to be a force for political awakening to these issues.
Jason Flom, who founded Lava Records in 1995, said that, despite “schlepping to South by Southwest” for many years in search of new talent, the festival “couldn’t have picked a better time and location” with all the great music and innovation occurring within the borough.
April Walker, CEO Walker Wear, explained how the culture has impacted the fashion world.
“For a girl who was so impacted by hip hop culture when it came to fashion, it’s great to have a forum where this will all be encapsulated,” Walker said.
Johnny Marines, Manager of Romeo Santos (who twice sold out Yankee Stadium) and “BollyHood” music artist Raje Shware Queen, shared similar sentiments of excitement as they explained how hip-hop had fused with their respective Dominican and Indian cultures.
“A festival like this shows where the movement is headed–socially responsible but still edgy, with all industries and ethnic groups included,” Queen said.
V. Cha$e and Kid Art, of the rap group Cheer$ Club, concluded the press conference in praise of the upcoming festival, along with the internet, social media, and the fusion of different industries, which has allowed acts like them, and their multi-faceted interests (from music to fashion and beyond) to thrive.
The inaugural SOURCE360 will be a three-day expo, from September 19th to 21st. For details, see www.thesource360.com.
The Source Magazine has kept its finger on the pulse of urban music, lifestyle, and culture for the past 25 years. America’s oldest and most venerable hip-hop publication, the magazine touts its commitment to “authentic, edgy and socially responsible hip-hop.” It will be celebrating its anniversary with the festival.