Ice-T announces Art of Rap festival with Afrika Bambaataa, others

Ice-T has announced his wide-ranging Art of Rap festival, with a date in Irvine.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

California has hosted plenty of indie and throwback hip-hop festivals, but perhaps none is as comprehensive as Ice-T’s forthcoming Art Of Rap festival.

The two-date festival, each headlined by its founder, is set to stop at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine on July 18 and in Mountain View on July 19. The bill is a deep roster of foundational acts in hip-hop designed to trace its roots from New York in the ‘70s through the L.A.'s ‘90s and into the wilds of the modern Internet.

Among the many genre-formative acts slated to perform on both dates are Afrika Bambaataa, Big Daddy Kane, Kurtis Blow, Mack 10, Slick Rick and Grandmaster Melle Mel. The Irvine date gets an even deeper bill, with co-headliner The Game and other landmark MC’s such as Rakim and Warren G.

Alongside the music, the fest is to highlight the other art and dance forms that complimented hip-hop music, with graffiti and dance troupes, car shows and freestyle battles.

The festival is tied to Ice-T’s lauded 2012 documentary “Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap,” which featured interviews with almost every major living hip-hop artist, including Eminem, Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Nas and Snoop Dogg, alongside a bevy of first-wave and Golden Era acts crucial to the genre’s development and popularity. The documentary explored not just the image and legacy of hip-hop, but also the specifics of its technical craft and how its linguistic nuances reflected the culture it came from.


In a 2012 interview on the film, the rapper told The Times: “In rap, everyone is driving a Bentley and drinking Cristal. ... That’s not reality. We have a war, we have a black president, we have people unemployed, we have people losing their homes, we have some pretty serious stuff and music is not reflecting it. It’s like everything is Lady Gaga and life is perfect.”

Tickets for the Irvine date go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. For young L.A. hip-hop fans entranced by Kendrick Lamar’s skill on “To Pimp a Butterfly,” this show should be a rousing living history lesson.

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