Atmosphere and more at Day of Dignity, 10/7/12

Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
Day of Dignity
With Atmosphere, Stalley, Brother Ali, MaLLy, Sims, Y.N. Rich Kids and more
Masjid An-Nur, Minneapolis
Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day of Dignity returned for its second year with a cross-section of the greater Twin Cities hip hop community, and a combination of both performances and community outreach. In between listening to some of the city's brightest rap stars, attendees could scarf a free meal, learn how to file a civil rights complaint, swing by the barber for a free haircut, or check out other services and resources. Or they could stop in at Masjid An-Nur, the mosque where Brother Ali worships, and ask Ali himself where to stow their shoes before prayers.

These worlds were pleasantly colliding all day at the free festival, which Ali, the day's host, promises to make an annual event.

See also:
- Slideshow: Day of Dignity 2012
- Atmosphere tops Day of Dignity 2012 lineup
- Happy 40th birthday, Atmosphere's Slug: Seven of his lesser-known songs

In late afternoon, Ali captured everyone's mood -- and some of those collisions. "At the end of the day, this is a day of service," he said to the crowd. "But it's also a block party. Party, not show."

The artist on stage just before this declaration had been a member of the mosque, singing the Muslim call to prayer. The artists Ali was introducing were nearly the opposite: Sims, Toki Wright, IBE, Prof, MaLLy and others. This series of guest appearances by "my friends," as Ali described them, was the best part of a six-hour day that was lively, varied, and surprising.

Anyone hanging out next to the mosque for 12 hours would have seen the Day of Dignity audience turn over several times. In the morning, starting at 7, it was just the performers (including Ali, fresh from Friday and Saturday shows at First Ave) and the volunteers, building the stage and setting up the sound equipment (all donated).

The event itself kicked off at noon with a greeting from the mosque's imam. DJ Plain Ole Bill took the stage for the next 90 minutes, providing the background music for the people receiving services or greeting neighbors in the parking lot. The Mad Dads truck was parked on the street, and families checked out produce stands, clothing donations, voter registration, and other booths.

By 1:30, more people started milling around by the stage, and the teenage rapper 50 Tyson opened up the day's live music. But the audience really started moving 15 minutes later, when 50 Tyson finished his set and some familiar-looking kids got on after him.

When one of the young emcees took the mic, a similarly-aged crowd started running over from the parking lot, dragging their parents behind them. They were ahead of everyone else in recognizing the Y.N.RichKids, the rappers behind summer's snacks smash, "Hot Cheetos and Takis."
Anna Gulbrandsen
The Y.N.RichKids performing "Hot Cheetos and Takis" live.
After the Y.N.RichKids ran through a few other songs in their arsenal -- "Gin and Juice," "Doo-Wop (That Thing)" -- the "Hot Cheetos and Takis" beat came on. It was only 2 p.m., but the crowd started bouncing, and the kids on stage were working them. "Clap, clap, clap," one said, "we're about to perform the song all y'all have been waiting for."

While the Y.N.RichKids lived up to their YouTube promise, some young guys on bicycles pulled up to the stage, mouthing all the words and nodding along, and the rest of the audience followed the kids' dance interludes.

After their set, Brother Ali got on stage and announced, "That's the most hip hop thing you might see all day." He introduced the next act, storyteller Nothando Zulu, who started talking about how when she was growing up, kids didn't have Takis, they had biscuits with mayonnaise.

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