Earlier this month, enthusiastic crowds came out to support some of Liberia’s finest home-grown talents at the second annual Hip Co Festival in Monrovia. The festival lasted from December 7th to 8th and featured performances by nearly 40 artists. The festival’s organizer, Takun J is both an anti-rape ambassador for Liberia and one of the most popular performers of the hipco genre, which, if you didn’t know, is Liberia’s take on hip-hop. Earlier this year, Takun J was named Liberia’s Gender Based Violence Reduction Ambassador, an honor that should not comes as a surprise for those following his career. Takun J’s songs have long brought attention to government corruption, injustice, and crimes against women. For just one example of his hard-hitting social commentary (with reggae beats that bring to mind the lighter side of DJ Quik), check out last year’s “Policeman.”
The Festival, backed by the European Union, featured workshops that trained 26 hipco artists in “human rights with an emphasis on ending violence against women.” And over 20,000 fans came out to watch the Festival– a triumph for both hipco and women’s rights in Liberia. One Festival performer that we’d like to hear more from is Butterfly. She introduced herself by saying, “The main messages in my music are to let the girls know that they are not cheap and they should not allow people to take advantage of them.” On stage, her performance was rousing and unique– shifting her style between rap and sing-song vocals with a seriously funky backing track and stage-owning dance moves.
We applaud the success of this Festival- maybe next year, we’ll find a way to get out there ourselves!