Sensory Overload: Successful 2x2 Hip-Hop Fest already set to return in 2016

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Almost before the paint dried on the graffiti murals slapped on the outside of Rice Paddy Motorcycles, organizers behind the 2x2 Hip-Hop Fest, which celebrated its debut last Saturday, announced the event would return for a second go-round next year.

"Having just under 1,000 people in attendance at our first festival was incredible. It's proof Columbus needs an annual hip-hop festival," organizers Cole Baker, Justin "Ketchup" Withrow and Josh Miller wrote on the event's website. "So with that being said we will definitely see you guys in 2016."

The daylong event, which took place under sunny skies, highlighted every aspect of hip-hop culture, including the aforementioned graffiti artists (a chalkboard was also provided for aspiring artist tykes), DJs (Bombeardo captured the crown in a late-afternoon DJ battle), a variety of dexterous MCs and a small army of uber-limber breakdancers, all of whom appeared to have been subjected to the same levels of radiation that gifted the Fantastic Four's Mr. Fantastic his ridiculously pliable physical powers.

Overall, a casual, block party feel permeated the proceedings, and even a handful of hiccups - sound issues aborted a set by Dinosaur Burps and silenced a DJ for the latter half of Political Animals' turn, while daylong delays led to abbreviated sets from headliners like Illogic, who was limited to less than 10 minutes of stage time before things went dark at 11 p.m. - did little to dampen attendees' spirits.

Highlights abounded. Labelling himself a teacher and a historian, J. Rawls split his time spinning time-hopping tracks by the likes of Black Star and Slick Rick and dropping verses off his most recent solo album, The Legacy. Copywrite, meanwhile, paid homage to the late Camu Tao while plowing through razor-sharp verses about the struggle to maintain a degree of sanity in the midst of a freefall.

Nes Wordz, in contrast, performed on the roofless stage (a small brick building left open to the elements by a caved-in roof) and tore through explosive, high-energy songs about clawing his way up from the bottom, paying tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement ("Justice for Sandra Bland!" he shouted) and fallen friends atop kinetic backdrops that ranged from trap beats to '80s-style boom-bap.

"I'm in the stratosphere, and I ain't coming down for hours!" he cried. It's a similar high many walked away with as the inaugural 2x2 drew to a close.

Photo credit: Andy Downing