Hiero Day 2016 Positive Thoughts

Heiro Day festival celebrates hip-hop and Oakland culture

on September 15, 2016

Warehouses and industrial parks became the backdrop for some 35,000 hip-hop fans in West Oakland on Monday when a section of 3rd Street was blocked off for the 5th annual Hiero Day music and arts festival.

A diverse group of spectators walked a circuitous path through freeways and industrial parks to find the entrance at the corner of 3rd and Chestnut Streets. Inside, hip-hop performers stood in line for beer with San Francisco hipsters. The air smelled like pot and amplified music from three stages echoed off the warehouses.

“This event brings everybody together from different races and different backgrounds. The vibe is great,” said Maurice Ivory, an Oakland resident and a keyboard performer at the festival.

Hiero Day was organized by Hieroglyphics, an Oakland-based hip-hop collective. Nine rappers currently make up the group, which served as the headline performers.  The event was billed as “a celebration of all that’s good about Oakland.”

“Oakland is diverse. It’s a melting pot. There’s a lot of creativity here,” said Kahri Bailey, an Oakland resident and Hiero Day organizer. Bailey spent the day driving up and down 3rd Street in a golf cart, driving VIPs and checking in with vendors. He said that Hiero Day was a huge event, requiring a full year of preparation.

“We’re learning a lot every time we do it, and making it bigger and bigger every year,” said Bailey.

Hiero Day drew artists and vendors from around the region. Jacob Seedman of Santa Cruz sold T-shirts and hats from his clothing line Shä-lōm. The clothes mash-up Hebrew characters with hip-hop inspired design. Despite the design, Seedman said that his company is not about Judaism, but rather about peace through apparel.

Kenan Frager of San Francisco came to Hiero Day to see a performance by the Los Angeles rapper Sahtyre. The two attended high school together. When asked what he liked about Oakland, Frager said, “Oakland has been able to keep its identity, whereas San Francisco seems to be losing its identity. Oakland still takes pride in itself.”

The event did not go off without unexpected incidents. The East Bay Times reported that a 20-year-old woman named Audrey Verduzco fell through a warehouse skylight at about 5:00 p.m.  Verduzco was part of a group of attendees that climbed up to the roof of a warehouse to get a better view. Verduzco fell 20 to 25 feet to the warehouse floor breaking her back, shoulders and pelvis. She was taken to Highland Hospital and is expected to recover.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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