Veteran Chapel Hill emcee and My Carolina Today entertainment contributor KAZE announced “Hillmatic,” a mini-festival set for Saturday, Aug. 22, at Local 506, on Wednesday. The one-night event sports the tagline “Celebrating Chapel Hill Hip Hop Culture” and will feature performances by some of the Tar Heel town’s current hip-hop torch carriers, such as J Swiss, Well$, Fluent and Skyblew. KAZE performs, too
While Hillmatic is not being advertised as a festival, it surely has the feel and look of one in the making. Its announcement also comes on the, well, “heels” of the DURM Hip Hop Summit finally releasing its lineup. It will take place in downtown Durham one week before this event on the other side of Tobacco Road.
Two very similar Triangle hip-hop shows happening in such close proximity to each other may point to a larger issue of fragmentation. (Raleigh, where’s your hip-hop festival?) As KAZE has comprehensively laid out in his Instagram post, Chapel Hill used to be a hotbed for hip-hop activity—“the city,” he writes, “with so many contributions, hosted moments, and talent, instrumental in the Carolina Hip Hop Movement.” Unfortunately, there are only a few holdovers from those days. The town’s hip-hop identity is now shaped less by its music scene and more by its gains in music education—for example, Chapel Hill’s Beat Making Lab and UNC-Chapel Hill’s hip-hop curriculum.
Perhaps a celebration like Hillmatic might be a step toward getting Chapel Hill back to it’s music-centered glory days. If KAZE is any indication of the scene’s persistence, it will reinvent itself in due time.