Indianapolis Hip-Hop Festival

United States of Mind

Saturday, Aug. 27

It was an amazing night, maybe even one of the greatest in Indiana music history: a real live hip-hop festival, full of smiling, happy people, great music, plenty of soul food and absolutely no trouble from either knuckleheads or the cops.

There was a party atmosphere in the neighborhood. “Ooh, even the white boys are turning out tonight,” said a young woman as we walked towards United States of Mind. When we arrived on site, the festival had been going for a few hours and the place was packed.

The break-dancing finals were going on and for a minute it was the mid-1980s again, with plenty of incredible moves and showboat tactics from the dancers. When the competition was over, the crowd wanted more, and the dancers delivered.

T.J. Reynolds of United States of Mind was presiding over the event like the mayor, shaking hands with people and chit-chatting with everyone. We spoke with a woman who’d driven in from Louisville for the festival, gotten lost, ended up at a fast-food restaurant where her friend’s purse had gotten stolen. She didn’t care. She was happy to be there.

Back inside, Absoul, a skinny young man from the band Nearest Nova, was rapping at a furious pace. He had a raw flow going like Nas, mixing in humor between insane rhyming phrases. “I’m the brokest rapper in town,” he said between songs. “Ain’t nobody broker than me.” Despite his lack of bling, his songs were tightly produced, perfectly delivered and full of energy.

Back outside, the mingling and hobnobbing kept going on. There was a friendly Indianapolis Police Department officer who’d volunteered his services for free. The joint was packed with true hip-hop fans and beautiful women, like all shows should be. The inside mural was wonderful. The energy the crowd was putting out was absorbed and reflected back by the performers.

The neighborhood was alive, between the festival and the people going in and out of the variety store and the pizza joint around the corner. Everyone looked like they were having fun. There wasn’t a corporate logo to be seen anywhere.

If this is what the revolution looks like, then it’s a wonderful thing. Much praise and respect to United States of Mind and the performers who made the first Indianapolis Hip-Hop Festival such an astounding success.


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