Doing it for the culture: Urban Sol week aims to bring hip-hop culture to ASU

Partnered with the Herberger Institute, Urban Sol brings the elements of hip-hop together

From Graffiti Workshops to Beat Battles, the Urban Sol festival puts hip-hop culture front and center for ASU students.

Urban Sol describes themselves on their Facebook page as the “unlikely union” between the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and Phoenix’s urban culture, which consists of DJ's, emcees, graffiti artists and dancers.

Kayla Tomooka, assistant to the director for Urban Sol, said the Urban Sol festival is trying to make people more aware of the hip-hop culture.

“It’s a pubic event that is spreading awareness of the culture,” Tomooka said. “Hip-hop is the culture, and the Urban Sol Festival is an event when the elements of hip hop culture come together.”

Nathaniel Hawkins, also known as Deejay Panic, the go-to DJ for most of the Urban Sol events, said he believes Urban Sol exposes real hip-hop culture to students who may have a misconception of it.

“Events like Urban Sol expose the hip-hop culture to your average college student, who might think hip-hop is nothing more than Lil Yachty or Young Money,” Hawkins said.

“A lot of people get the idea that hip-hop is nothing but misogyny and wealth chasing, but there are artists like Killer Mike with Run the Jewels and Nas who use hip-hop to make a positive impact in the community.”

The Urban Sol festival begins Monday, March 13 with “What You Write”, a Graffiti Workshop at the Phoenix Center for the Arts.

Urban Sol from ASU Sch of Film, Dance & Theatre on Vimeo.

“What You Write” is followed on Tuesday night by a hip hop discussion focused on debunking stereotypes and misconceptions of the hip-hop community. This event will be a discussion speared by the Netflix Series “The Get Down”, a series based on the roots of hip hop in the late 1970s.

The remainder of the week includes beat battles, graffiti battles, an emcee competition and a dance competition.

The grand finale for the Urban Sol week, will be a five on five crew battle on Saturday.

Ruby Morales a junior dance major, is taking part in Urban Soul week for her third year participating in the Urban Sol week. She said a big goal of the week is to connect with the urban culture that is already in Arizona.

Morales said there was a different popping-dance competition scheduled the same day as Urban Sol’s, so instead of competing against one another they combined to have their events in the same location.

“We want to focus on what in Arizona is already hip-hop based instead of trying to create something new.”


Reach the reporter at kjkelly3@asu.edu or follow @keegan_kelly on Twitter.

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