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Louisville hip-hop and arts festival to return for first time since 2019

The LouiEvolve poster depicts a colorful illustration of Louisville's skyline.
Organizers want to show hip-hop's cultural influences with a variety of events including concerts, a fashion show and a poetry slam.

LouiEvolve will showcase the city’s hip-hop scene, along with a poetry slam, fashion show and wing cook-off.

A hip-hop and arts festival is coming back to Louisville for the first time in four years this spring..

LouiEvolve is not just the name of the festival, but also the collective that puts it together.

“We try to build platforms for hip-hop artists to network [and] to share resources, but also platforms that connect them straight to the fans,” said Tay G, a local musician and co-founder of LouiEvolve.

Tay G said he and the rest of the collective want to create a shared space for people in Louisville’s hip-hop community to meet.

This year, organizers are expanding the festival’s slate of events beyond concerts.

“We can expect a little bit more different experiences, maybe adjacent or connected to hip-hop … that aren't necessarily standing at a stage and watching somebody perform,” Tay G said.

Aside from concerts, events include a fashion show, poetry slam and wing cook-off. Tay G said all of these are connected to hip-hop’s larger culture in some way.

“A lot of the side hustles for hip-hop artists just happened to be like a kitchen, you know. ‘Trap kitchen’ is what we call them. You know, selling plates” Tay G said.

In addition to showing one of the ways people coming up in hip-hop make money outside their music, Tay G said the wing cook-off provides a space to highlight Black cuisine.

The response to the festival’s return has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Tay G, with more than 150 artists applying to participate over the course of a few days and buzz on social media.

“I was excited and also surprised to see that there were people sharing the posts that I've never heard of … so we can just tell that we're getting into a much broader audience,” Tay G said.

From the beginning, the founding members of LouiEvolve have tried to put artists at the forefront of what they do. Tay G said it started with roundtables where they got to know each other.

Highlighting hip-hop, particularly artists from Louisville, is the main goal.

“Our hip-hop scene here is amazing,” Tay G said. “We really do have so many great artists that I will put up against any artists on the radio right now.”

He said hip-hop can often act as a living newspaper, telling the stories of what is going on in a city and society at large.

“We touched two bases: the entertainment world, but we also touched the community. And we can reach into the community in ways that nobody else can,” Tay G said.

Tay G said he’s seen this firsthand in Louisville hip-hop, and he hopes those unfamiliar with the scene will leave the festival realizing what a strong and supportive community there is, including other organizations, promoters, artists, videographers and photographers.

Tay G and the other organizers want the festival to be a starting point for people to discover more.

“We want people to leave and then go find those events and go find those artists throughout the year, and go support them all the time, not just during the festival,” Tay G said.

Tickets for the LouiEvolve festival can be purchased on the organization’s website, which also has a full lineup of events. Artists and designers interested in participating can go to LouiEvolve’s Instagram page for information on the submission process.

The hip-hop and arts festival takes place April 20 at The Mammoth and April 21-22 at Portal.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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