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Chicago hip-hop artists bring fashion and bars to annual African Festival

Artist, The Boy Illinois rocking a traditional dashiki for his performance at the 25th annual African Festival of the Arts in Chicago Labor Day weekend.

Artist, The Boy Illinois rocking a traditional dashiki for his performance at the 25th annual African Festival of the Arts in Chicago Labor Day weekend.

Since its birth in the late 197os, the culture of hip-hop has traditionally consisted of four elements: emceeing, break dancing, graffiti art and deejaying. But the growing popularity of fashion within the culture makes it a contender to possibly be the fifth element.

Over the weekend, Chicago hosted the 25th annual African Festival of the Arts on the city’s South Side at Washington Park. Since people of the African diaspora are vastly diverse, each night of the festival featured diverse musicians. Friday was deemed “hip-hop night,” in an effort to attract more Millennials to the festival, since their attendance has dwindled over the years.

Founder of the festival, Patrick Woodtor stressed the importance of educating the youth and possessing some level of consciousnesses about our culture and making a worthwhile contribution to society.

Some people contribute through teaching. Others, through parenthood. Then there are artists — specifically, those that speak their peace over an irresistible beat. Take local talent, The Boy Illinois and Bruza The General, for instance. But not only do they express themselves through melodic verse, it also comes through in their fashion choices.

Chicago artist, Bruza The General has created his own lane by combining elements of hipster culture with experiences growing up on the East side of Chicago.

Chicago artist, Bruza The General has created his own lane by combining elements of hipster culture with experiences growing up on the East side of Chicago.

The two offer opposite, yet interesting flavors. Bruza identifies more as, “where the ‘hood meets hipster,” hence the name of his upcoming project, Backpack Trap. The Boy Illinois or simply “Illi,” adds a more Afrocentric touch (complete with tasseled penny loafers). In his latest single though, “Dress Accordingly,” he’s seen rocking a bucket cap, which has re-emerged in popularity. Either way, both artists are unique. Both styles reflect their messaging. And both are heavily influenced by Chicago. Keep your eyes peeled for these two.

Check the interviews below: