Hip-hop arts festival Passing the Mic brings words to life

Nov. 5, 2012

by Valeria Davis

The Passing the Mic: 8th Annual Intergenerational Hip-Hop Arts Festival will bring words to life as a program within the Wisconsin Book Festival.

The events are free and open to the public in the Rotunda Studio of the Madison Overture Center.

Each year, Passing the Mic brings top national talent to UW-Madison. This year's event begins Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. with First Wave hosting the Midwest All-Star Hip-Hop Arts Show featuring the Midwest Youth Spoken Word and Hip-Hop All-Stars from Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis and the Twin Cities.

On Friday, Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m. the festival will feature curator Robbie Q. and special guests Lynda Barry, Frank X. Walker and Marques Toliver in "Encyclopedia Show 2.0." This show is commissions local and touring artists and experts from many disciplines who use their individual talents to present different monthly encyclopedia entries. Also performing will be First Wave and other surprise guests.

Also Friday at 7:30 p.m., the festival will present First Wave: Performance Poetry and the Personal Narrative hosted by Christopher Walker, the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) artistic director, and Madison Poets Laureate Wendy Vardaman and Sarah Busse.

On Saturday, Nov. 10 from 9 to 11 p.m., OMAI's Annual Passing the Mic Showcase Tribute to John "Vietnam" Nguyen will be a night of poetry, music and special performances by First Wave's Shameaca Moore, Myriha Burton, Janel Herrera. Taylor Scott and Zhalarina Sanders will present a musical set backed up by Madison musicians David Stoler, Nick Moran and Robert Schoville. Violinist and vocalist Marques Toliver will perform with special guest poet Frank X. Walker.

Nguyen, 19, a First Wave Hip-Hop Learning Community student artist who drowned in Lake Mendota in September, was from Chicago.

"He was an incredible inspiration to all those that knew him -- young and old -- and had developed an international following in his short life," says Willie Ney, OMAI executive director.