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Tucson hip-hop festival returns after COVID-19 hiatus

This+mural+advertised+the+2019+Tucson+Hip+Hop+festival%2C+the+last+time+the+city+hosted+the+event+after+having+to+hit+pause+in+2020+and+2021+due+to+the+COVID-19+pandemic.+%28Courtesy+of+Julius+Schlosburg%29

This mural advertised the 2019 Tucson Hip Hop festival, the last time the city hosted the event after having to hit pause in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Julius Schlosburg)

The 2022 Tucson Hip Hop Festival will have a special feeling this year as it returns for the first time in two years.

The event, which began in 2015 as the Tucson Hip Hop Summit, is back on March 19 and 20 with more than 100 performers and a full slate of mentorships and workshops. 

Pike Romero, director of the Tucson Hip Hop Festival, said he can’t wait for this year’s event.

“I’m excited about the community coming together once again. Being away for two very hard years, it’s nice to gather and see people again,” Romero said. “Seeing this year’s lineup gets me super pumped because it’s people who persevered through hardship.”

One of those performers is Aske Baby, a local hip-hop artist who has had some experience at the Tucson festival. 

“The festival brings a positive light to the city. It connects creatives from all over and gives a chance to connect on different levels,” Aske Baby said. “A lot of younger artists kind of rely on social media; the festival lets you put a face to your name. People get to experience the talent in the city that they usually miss.”

In addition to Aske Baby, some of the artists on the lineup include Knox, Marley B, Cash Lansky, Soul Point, Nathan Villins, DJ Century, Frankie Salcido, Roodbeats and Our City’s Finest. 

(Courtesy of Julius Schlosburg)
(Courtesy of Julius Schlosburg)

Although Tucson missed the event for the past couple years, Romero said there was a silver lining to the COVID-19 pause.

“Having that break allowed the scene to reset. It’s allowed growth, confidence and made people be better at their craft,” Romero said. “I know that means they will go extra hard on stage. Really happy to celebrate what Tucson and the Southwest has to offer within hip hop. Not just in music, but in all aspects of it.”

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The University of Arizona College of Humanities Africana Studies is a 2022 partner with the festival. 

Tani Sanchez, an Africana Studies professor of practice, spoke about the event and its impact on campus. 

“My observation is that this is a great time to hear local artists perform,” Sanchez said. “It is also an opportunity to attend sessions that offer meaningful information about history and practice of hip-hop culture and artistic professions from experts and professionals.”

The Tucson Hip Hop Festival takes place from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at 191 E. Toole Ave. and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 20, at the UA Poetry Center, 1508 E. Helen St.

Tickets for Saturday are $25 through tucsonhiphopfestival.com and admission on Sunday is free. 


 *El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.


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