By: Chris Zabala

The Bay Area hip hop scene couldn’t have shined any brighter on this day.  Now that the holiday weekend is over, we’re all back at work with co-workers sharing their stories of the Bar-B-Ques and beach trips that filled their weekend.  When I told them I was at Hiero Day working, taking pictures, they immediately questioned me on why I spent my holiday doing a such thing.  I could only insist that they were the ones who truly missed out.  All they knew about Hiero Day is that it is a hip hop festival in Oakland and could only talk on all the negative associations their brains could imagine.  But, as a Bay Area grown hip-hop head, there was no better place for me to spend my Labor Day, taking in all of the essence and the glory that makes Hiero Day the celebration it truly is.

As we approached Will Call to pick up our passes, we were met by a mass of people waiting anxiously in line for Hiero Day to begin.  With three stages and over thirty performances, how could you not be excited.  Once you enter the festival you were greeted by the merchandise and food vendors, all with something unique to offer.   From clothing companies to food trucks and even hip-hop themed knick-knacks, there was definitely something for everyone.  I couldn’t resist buying a shirt for my nephew that said “Hip Hop Forever”  with a picture of a microphone on it.  I thought it would look absolutely adorable on this special 1 year old.  Plus, you know that he’ll be introduced to hip hop at a very early age!

If you think Hiero Day was only about music, you are completely WRONG.  Hiero Day focuses on the culture of hip hop specifically in the Bay Area.  There was a breakdance competition, live graffiti artists and a skateboard park, all elements that define hip hop in the Bay Area.  The graffiti visuals were brought to you by a few extremely talented graffiti artists: Apex, That Fly Lord, and Pawn Lords.  Local skateboarders were able to take the course, grind the rail and catch some air on their mini ramps.  I wish I had more time to watch more of the breakdancing competition and was only able to stop by for a little bit.  Next Hiero Day, I’ll definitely make sure I watch more of the breakdance competition.  These aspects of the hip hop culture are sometimes forgotten, but very integral to complete what we know as hip hop.

We were running back and forth from stage to stage trying not to miss a moment, but we were in dire need of some food and water.  Shout outs to Kau Kau Korner and Bombzies BBQ for the delicious food.  We grabbed a chicken and kalua pork combo from Kau Kau Korner and a BBQ chicken bowl from Bombzies.  Both are highly recommended!  Kau Kau Korner has a brick and mortar location in Alameda while Bombzies BBQ is a catering company that you can find at many of the local food festivals, like Off The Grid - Fort Mason.  

It was a surreal experience, seeing some of the Bay Areas hip hop elite up close and personal, interacting with them and seeing how real and down to earth they are.  Each set was unique to the artist bringing back memories of trying to memorize and recite the lyrics just like they did (#childhoodgoals).  You know exactly what I’m talking about.  *cues The Luniz - “I Got 5 On it” or Hieroglyphics - “‘93 'til Infinity”*  Admit it, you just started singing either one or both of those songs in your head.  There were classics hip hop joints on deck, one after the other.  It was endless.  The crowd didn’t miss a beat, a lyric or bar.  

From the most recent outbreak of HBK (performances by Jay Ant, P-Lo, k00l John and IAMSU) to the industry veterans of The Luniz, Zion I and Hieroglyphics, hip hop has been strong in the Bay Area for quite some time now and appears that it is here for years to come.  We banded together during Hiero Day to create a positive atmosphere spreading good vibes ONLY, destroying whatever common notion people may or may not have had about a hip hop festival in Oakland (#goodvibes).  

A huge shoutout goes out to our photographer Rebecca who joined me in the journey of capturing all of the events of the day.  Scurrying from stage to stage, forgetting to eat and just enjoying the hectic atmosphere of Hiero Day.

*for pictures of Hiero Day 2015, click here*

Thank you Hiero Day for the absolute perfect way to spend my Labor Day!  Cheers!