While Capitol Hill Block Party rages mere feet away, a less cramped scene will unfold inside the Vermillion Bar and Art Gallery on Saturday, July 23. There, nearly at arm’s reach from Block Party’s chain-link borders, a growing trend in Seattle’s underground hip-hop scene will be on display during Squadfest.
“Squadfest is essentially [performances from] most of the dopest underground hip-hop crews,” says Dax Edword, the event’s organizer. “I crammed as much as I could into a short day.”
The free event, which will take place from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., will feature performances from a plethora of local groups including Honor Roll, Sleep Steady, Black Magic Noize, TUF, 69/50, Spread Thick, Rob Sims, Lifetime Supply Club, Fish Tank Friends, Golden Alchemy, and hip-hop collective Filthy Fingers United.
Edword, who performs as Diogeneses and is a founding member of Filthy Fingers United, says that in lieu of big-budget promotion and social media campaigns led by solo rappers in Seattle, many local rappers and producers are choosing to “squad up” for success, so to speak.
“It’s probably easier to ‘blow up’ as an individual rapper, if you’re white, go to college, are wealthy, and can buy your way into marketing and promotions,” Edword says. “That’s a pretty easy way to blow up in Seattle, because nobody really pays attention to people who are just working hard and making great music. You have to be able to purchase your way in.”
For Madshroom M.C., a member of Filthy Fingers United and founding member of Black Magic Noise, grouping up with other hip-hop artists and producers is about more than promoting his work. It’s about combining the strengths of different artistic personalities to mold a more powerful package.
“It’s strength in numbers,” he says. “In a crew, a lot of diversity is brought to the table. Different styles, things I never would have thought of, things I wouldn’t have been capable of. Together, we create something awesome through our synergy. It’s because there’s so many different energies and entities and
powers coming together to make something work.” Vermillion, 1508 11th Ave., 709-9797. Free. All ages. 5 p.m.