"If you build it, they will come."
The line "If you build it, he will come" was made famous by Phil Alden Robinson's somewhat-cheesy 1989 film Field of Dreams, and is often misquoted in this fashion, typically for the purpose of applying it to anything created to draw a large gathering. Create something amazing, and people will flock to it—especially if they need it.
Trillectro, D.C.'s first annual collision of hip-hop and electronic music, went down this past weekend at the Fairgrounds near the Washington Nationals stadium in Southeast D.C., and it was a tremendous success. Organized by the DCtoBC team, the event was created with the ambitious goal of blending the worlds of hip-hop and electronic dance music (EDM). Mission accomplished.
In addition to drawing the likes of ScHoolboy Q and Flosstradamus, the festival was birthed to lend exposure to less reputable acts. During their early afternoon performances, rising Philly rappers GrandeMarshall and Asaad had the opportunity to perform for a new audience.
"This is a beautiful event" said an eager GrandeMarshall, adding that hip-hop was in dire need of this "unification between genres." He continued, saying that the "90s taught niggas how to rap, but in the 2000s, we taught niggas how to make music." This new generation of artists and their willingness to experiment musically have opened the door for an event like Trillectro to happen.
It's only right that local talent be on full display at an event like this. Hip-hop artists Tabi Bonney and Oddisee brought great crowds to the main stage due to the audience's familiarity with their music, and Producer/DJ Tittsworth rocked for over an hour from the Redbull Music Academy truck. When the crowd of dancers urged him to keep going, he obliged with pure EDM crack, much to their delight.
There was one artist present at Trillectro whose musical style represented exactly what the festival was all about. Khadafi Dub, who was honored at the 2012 Dubstep Music Awards earlier this year, said that being tapped for his hosting abilities was "a humbling experience," and called Trillectro "a groundbreaking event for this merger" between hip-hop and EDM.
After making the transition from a traditional hip-hop background, Khadafi Dub credited his "growth as a human being and a man" for decision to cross over into a new sound. He expressed his appreciation for a new generation of fans who are no longer bound by fear of judgement about what they like.
"It's like a kid—you only know what you're fed. And now, I think people being exposed to different types of music, I just think it's gonna keep going. Good music is good music—it makes you dance, it touches your heart, it speaks to a situation you may have been through and people just love the music, man. It's a universal language."
Trillectro proved to be a marriage of extremes, though never egregious. Sunshine and rain, hip-hop and EDM, and all races and ages. People showed up with their children and parents. There was a moment during ScHoolboy Q's set where the event's magnitude became crystal clear. It was one of those cinematic moments, kind of like in Field of Dreams.
The rain had paused briefly, and standing before a crowd sprinkled with girls sitting on shoulders, the charismatic L.A. rapper took a break from his usual humor to perform the optimistic "Blessed," from his HABITS & Contradictions album. As the crowd recited every lyric, all in attendance suddenly realized that they were part of something special.
Trillectro concluded with a performance by Chicago DJ duo Flosstradamus, who did their best to brave unfortunately low volume. Still, they had the crowd dancing in the rain until the stage was shut down and everyone flooded into the streets. Doug E. Fresh, who some people were convinced wouldn't show, was in the process of thanking Flosstradamus and everyone who attended, but his mic was cut off. Grand opening, grand closing.
Still, the inaugural Trillectro festival proved that different genres and crowds could be married. The day also went largely without conflict, proving that 5,000 people can be together in an area without starting any trouble. Violence only would've destroyed the positive vibes floating through the Fairgrounds on Saturday.
As a result of Trillectro's success, people are already curious about a follow up. DCtoBC co-founder Modele "Modi" Oyewole had encouraging news, saying that turning the event into "a successful franchise" is the plan. The phrase "East Coast Coachella" has even been thrown around in reference to Trillectro, but Oyewole doesn't want anyone to get carried away.
"I don't think it's accurate," he says " I think Trillectro is like a baby music festival. I've been to raves, concerts, and a few festivals, and this was like a mini-taste of the big leagues. In reality, it's nowhere near as awesome as a Coachella or a Lollapalooza, or at all good. But if we can get it anywhere close to there, I'd be proud of us."
Looks like everyone will have to wait impatiently until next year to see the progress.
Written by Julian Kimble (@JRK316).