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AZHHF: Open Door Policy

On Friday November 15th, 2019 a gathering of talented LGBT+ artists will kick off the 6th Annual Arizona Hip Hop Festival at Stacy’s in Phoenix, Arizona located on 4343 N 7th Ave. There comes a time when a shift needs to happen. When the old way of doing things should evolve. Here we are in 2019 and the 6th Annual Arizona Hip Hop Festival is evolving. The plight of those in the LGBTQ+ community has been one wrought with discrimination and exclusion. Justus Samuel, CEO of Respect The Underground believes that there is true need for an effort to be made to help those that feel marginalized and excluded feel safe, welcome and wanted. He also sees the landscape of the culture from past to present on a Facebook post, “Hip Hop comes in many forms. To deny someone their God given right of artistic expression via our platform would discredit everything we stand for.”

For the negative voices out there the Mayor of the Underground isn’t even phased by them saying, “I am not concerned with the opinions of sheep, I know my truth and I know exactly why I chose to do this. I chose to do it because I want our platform to push the culture forward and be the change I always envisioned.” That’s real talk. You have to be the change you want to see in the world and the Arizona Hip Hop Festival is doing just that. Sure there are those that see any changes as a disturbance to the status quo and in turn shakes up their comfort zone. Some have brought up a few points of contention like ”this is just a money grab” or “why segregate them and give them their own stage?” but those same people ignore the answers even when stated repeatedly. So much dissension from a small group of naysayers got the supporters out in full force like Julio Romero who commented on the announcement that Justus made on Facebook saying, “JustUs is opening opportunities to the lgbtq, the Christian artists and others who are over looked and/or judged for their religion or preference!” His statement is poignant and brings up a solid counterpoint to the haters and detractors; where was this talk of exploiting a niche community for profit when the Church Of The Underground started? The Arizona Hip Hop Festival has been a great representation of Arizona Hip Hop and it’s solidified itself as one of the tone setters for how the culture will evolve moving forward. As the host of the newly added stage/event, Taylor Rene Holly-Wood is focusing on the love being shown saying, “I’m grateful for the positivity! Thank you to everyone that is being Supportive!” Join us tomorrow in welcoming our LGBTQ+ artists into the AZHHF properly.

by: Steven Sandage

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