Richmond Virginia’s annual event will be a celebration of local makers, musicians and foodies.
Go-to producer for Waka Flocka Flame and Rick Ross, Lex Luger will head a lineup of dozens of underground hip hop artists at Richmond, Virginia’s 5th annual “Epic Fest.”
The yearly extravaganza of hip hop music and culture features some of the area’s most up-and-coming talent. Founded by Richmond-based rappers/promoters Cain McCoy and Octavion Xcellence, the event was born in 2011 from frustration at a lack of opportunities available for local artists to showcase their craft.
“We were always complaining about the city, but at some point we decided to stop complaining about the problem and start being the solution,” McCoy reminisces.
Talk with enough Virginia hip hop artists and you’ll hear a common complaint that their scene doesn’t get enough attention in the rap community, whether from talent-scouting record labels or big-name artists plotting national tour stops. This is most surprising when you consider that some of the industry’s biggest names hail from the region, including Timbaland, Pharrell, Missy Elliott, Trey Sonz, Chris Brown, Pusha T, D’Angelo, and, of course, Lex Luger. However, even if not for its music scene just yet, Virginia’s capital has been attracting national buzz like a honey pot in recent years, catalyzed in part by the 2011 Final Four run and subsequent successes that VCU’s basketball team achieved under the direction of their erstwhile coach Shaka Smart, who left for a position at the University of Texas earlier this year. Recently highlighted on Thrillest as one of America’s most underrated cities, Richmond is steeped in historical significance as the former Capital of the Confederacy and today boasts numerous award-winning restaurants, art exhibits, and overall hipster appeal. Through Epic Fest, Cain and Octavion hope to leverage that flourishing national awareness of their hometown onto its overlooked hip hop culture.
“We really wanted a go-to summer festival in Richmond. We wanted to fill the void. We want to showcase the art, music, fashion and talent that Richmond has to offer,” said Cain. “It gives the young bucks something to look forward to, something to hold on to. RVA doesn’t get much attention, and we’re tired of knocking on the door. Now we’re gonna bust through.”
The five-day festival kicks off with an art battle where visual artists will compete within a set timeframe to create an original piece of work that audience members will vote on. Among the competing artists will be Atlanta-based painter and graphic designer Paper Frank. From then on, it’s a daily montage of hip-hop, electro, and R&B music hosted at different popular venues throughout the city, wrapping up on the last day with a community cook-out.
“Things are changing,” Cain assures. “I see how people are putting the effort into their music and image. No one’s going to see the impact of all this until they look back years from now. You don’t always realize the transformation while you’re in the midst of it.”
Epic Fest kicks off on June 23rd. For tickets and details on the full event lineup, click here