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HIP HOP NATION 2016 is a fall series of workshops, events, and an exhibition that celebrates the five elements of Hip Hop culture including its artistic forms and the history and knowledge that has developed over the past 40 plus years of it’s existence. The exhibition will pull from the history of Hip Hop in Hartford, specifically with its connection to a 1981 graffiti exhibition and a 1991 Hip Hop Nation exhibition curated by Real Art Ways and archived in the Library’s Hartford History Center.

HPL partners with Iron Poet SeriesStudio-8-Sixty, Zulu Nation 860, Real Art Ways, and more to make the series come to life.

This project is funded with the support of the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation's Excellence in the Arts grant and The Fund for Greater Hartford.


Hip Hop Nation 2016 Kickoff at Envisionfest

Saturday, September 17, 11 am-4 pm
Downtown Library Terrace

Our fall celebration of Hip Hop culture and its historical presence in Hartford kicks off at Envisionfest Hartford!

YOUmedia Hartford youth, TangsauceThe RapOet (Self Suffice)Orice JenkinsKyle YoungBrittney Crush

Team 860 of Studio-8-Sixty

DJ Stealth (Asaad Jackson) on the 1's and 2's

Thank you to the iQuilt Partners and their Envisionfest funders for making this kickoff possible!


Spoken Word Workshops with Iron Poets


Iron Poets Olusanya Bey, Zulynette Morales, and Khaiim the RaPoet aka Self Suffice will engage participants in writing poetry for self, for performance, and a collective group poem.

Barbour Branch
Tuesday, Sept. 27 & Thursday, Sept. 29, 4:30 - 6 pm

Park Branch
Monday, Oct. 3 & Tuesday 4, 4:30 – 6 pm

Blue Hills Branch
Wednesday, Oct. 5, 4:30-6 pm & Friday, Oct. 7, 3:30-5 pm

Ropkins Branch
Monday Oct. 24 & Wednesday Oct. 26, 4-5:30 pm


Hip Hop Dance with Studio 860


Instructors from Studio 860 will teach participants the foundations of bboying/bgirling (breakdancing), popping, locking, and social dance.

Studio 860 is a Hartford-based, Hip Hop-focused dance studio located at the 224 Ecospace (224 Farmington Ave.) offering dynamic classes to a wide range of ages.

Ropkins Branch
Oct. 10, 12, 17, & 19, 4-5:30 pm

Goodwin Branch
Oct. 11, 13, 18, & 20, 4-5:30 pm

Dwight Branch
Oct. 24, 26, & 31 and Nov. 2, 4-5:30 pm

Camp Field Branch
Oct. 25 & 27, Nov. 1 & 3, 4-5:30 pm

Albany Branch
Oct. 7, 14, 21, & 28, 2-3:30 pm


Music Production Workshops with Kyle Young

Tuesdays 4-6 pm & Fridays 3-5 pm
October 7 - November 15
YOUmedia Hartford Center (teens ages 13-19 only)      

A small group of youth will produce 2-3 collaborative hip hop songs to perform at the Hip Hop Nation 2016 Closing Cypher.

Kyle Young is a Hartford-born, Springfield-raised, Los Angeles-educated emcee, producer, and filmmaker. Young has self-produced and collaborated with artists nation-wide to produce well-written, socially-reflective hip hop records and visually enticing music videos over the past 12 years.


Graffiti Mural Project
Lindaluz Carrillo & John Massey 

Design Sessions: Mondays, October 17 & 24, 4-6 pm
Paint Sessions: TBD             
YOUmedia Hartford Center (teens ages 13-19 only)   

As part of YOUmedia's Woke Teen Forum, a small group of youth will design and paint a large graffiti mural based on issues they face and visions for the future of their communities. 

The mural will be displayed as part of the archival exhibition, "Hip Hop in Hartford: RAW exhibitions '81 & '91" in the Hartford History Center from Nov. 1 - Dec. 2, Tuesday - Friday 1:00-5:00pm. It will also serve as the backdrop for Hip Hop Nation 2016 Closing Cypher.




MK Asante, Buck: A Memoir
book talk & signing

Tuesday, October 25, 5:30-7:30 pm
Center for Contemporary Culture

MK Asante is a best-selling author, award-winning filmmaker, rapper, and professor who CNN calls “a master storyteller and major creative force.” He will be discussing one of his four books, Buck: A Memoir, which was praised by Maya Angelou as “A story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style.” Buck made the Washington Post best-seller list in 2014 and 2015 and is a NAACP Image Award finalist. Asante is a prize-winning filmmaker and a Sundance™ Screenwriting Fellow for the movie adaptation of Buck. Asante is a Distinguished Professor-in-Residence at the MICA School of Ideas in India and a tenured professor of creative writing and film at Morgan State University.

Books will be for sale & light refreshments will be served.

Check out Buck book trailer here!

Download Buck soundtrack for free!  


Hartford Hip Hop: Then and Now

Thursday, November 3, 6-7:30 pm
Hartford History Center     

Join us for a conversation about hip hop in Hartford in the '80s and '90s and how the culture has evolved to the present.

The discussion will feature Empress Nijuabi, Hartford emcee who participated in Real Art Ways' 1991 Hip Hop Nation exhibition and Seth Markle, Trinity College Associate Professor of History and International Studies and faculty advisor to student organizers of the annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival.  

The archival exhibition, "Hip Hop in Hartford: RAW exhibitions '81 & '91", will serve as the backdrop to the conversation and will be on display from November 1 - December 2, in celebration of Hip Hop History month. Exhibition hours: Tuesday - Friday, 1:00-5:00pm in the Hartford History Center.


Downtown Dance Battle

Saturday, November 5, 11 am - 4 pm

Underground Coalition will host a bboy/bgirl (breakdancing) and all styles dance battle in the Atrium. There will be guest judges, a feature performance, 1on1 battles, and cash prizes for winning teams.


Hip Hop Nation 2016 Closing Cypher

Thursday, November 10, 5:30-7:30 pm
Center for Contemporary Culture      

Hip Hop Nation 2016 programming will close with performances by participants from the spoken word, dance, and music production workshops. Panels from the graffiti mural project will serve as our backdrop. 

Hartford emcee, Empress Nijuabi, who performed with her crew Palm Expedition as part of the 1991 Hip Hop Nation exhibition curated by Real Art Ways, will be our featured performer.

Light refreshments will be served.