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Hip-hop earns special day in Phoenix with proclamation, annual festival

PHOENIX — Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton will declare Saturday to be Hip-Hop Day in the city during the third annual Arizona Hip-Hop Festival.

Organizer and longtime local rapper Justus said getting the proclamation was a three-year campaign.

“I petitioned in Year One with the Arizona Hip-Hop festival, they told me to knock one out first,” Justus said. “We knocked the first out. Three thousand people showed up, over 100 artists, three stages … no violence.

“They said ‘OK, do it again, that could have been a fluke,’ ” he said. “We did it again with five stages, over 225 artists in year two, 4,500 people in attendance, and no violence once again.”

Once they saw how positive and enriching it was to the downtown community, they were in.

“Mayor Stanton said it was his goal to bring live music downtown, and we were doing that,” Justus said.

“We actually have the entire city block shut down,” Justus said. “Eight stages, over 240 official performers, we’ll have a low-rider parade going down Washington at 5pm at sunset.”

There will also be over 100 painters taking part in a graffiti competition, industry labels scouting talent, and a producer showcase.

“Over a hundred vendors, from local mom-and-pop shops, everything from clothing lines to tattoo parlors,” he said. “We even have a half-dozen food trucks.”

Hip-Hop day will fall on every third Saturday in November.

“It is a historic day for Arizona hip-hop,” Justus said. “They are finally recognizing the fact that we are a thriving, vibrant culture that is focused on enriching the local community.”

The Arizona Hip-Hop Festival runs outside at Fourth Avenue and Adams Street and inside Comerica Theater from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.