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Urban Sol: 'A representation of US'

Communitywide event highlights street arts culture in the Valley of the Sun

people breakdancing

Urban Sol 2018. Photo by Tim Trumble, courtesy of ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

November 13, 2019

Urban Sol, a cross-institute initiative in Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, shines a light on street arts culture with DJs, MCs, aeroSOUL artists and dancers in the Valley of the Sun. This year Urban Sol includes five dynamic events over the course of three days, each featuring different aspects of hip-hop and street culture. Urban Sol launches Thursday, Nov. 14 and culminates Saturday, Nov. 16 with the Main Event. 

The theme for Urban Sol 2019 is “US.” 

“Urban Sol has grown to become a staple and is one of the most anticipated events within the Herberger Institute and Phoenix community,” said new festival director House Magana. “It’s an introduction for some and a light and voice for others — a representation of US.” 

Magana is an ASU alumnus and is the first b-boyAlso known as breakdancing: to graduate from the MFA in dance program. He joined the faculty in August of this year to teach urban movement classes and direct this year’s events, contributing to the growth and development of Urban Sol. He said one of the goals of Urban Sol is “to continue to take notice of the urban arts movement and the importance of the movement to teach and to address pressing issues of concern for the community.” 

Urban Sol 2019 launches at 4 p.m. Nov. 14 with a crossover event, Fader Manners and Letter Bending Graf Jam, at one Phoenix’s prominent hip-hop shops, Trill. Phoenix-based DJ Akshen created Fader Manners as a space for novice and master DJs to sharpen their needles and skills in a judgement-free atmosphere. The scratch deejaying event will be held inside Trill while the Letter Bending Graf Jam happens concurrently outside. The outdoor event features national and internationally recognized graffiti artists, also known as writers, who will create and educate as a part of five different “Knowledge Sessions” or workshops. All ages and skill levels are encouraged to attend in the spirit of “each one, teach one” — a philosophy of learning that is the bedrock of street culture. 

Urban Sol moves to Arizona State University’s Tempe campus Friday morning for Hip Hop Matters, a remixed version of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre's long-established Dance Matters series. Hip Hop Matters is open to the public.

This year, Urban Sol adds a Friday evening film night to the programming, highlighting feature films by Iam Artson and Shero Collective at Sun Studios of Arizona. The Shero Collective is a pro-social community initiative spearheaded by producer Carla A. Silveira-Hernandez “to highlight the behind-the-scenes stories, people and relationships that elevate the social fabric of hip-hop culture.” This screening of shorts will be followed by a documentary produced by Odin EYES Creations featuring Iam Artson’s “The Making of a Brave Star,” which explores the process of creating music for Artson’s album "Brave Star" and his road trip to various music festivals. There will be a Q&A with the producers of each project following the screenings. 

Graffiti art at Urban Sol 2018

Urban Sol 2018. Photo by Tim Trumble.

The Main Event on Saturday lands back at ASU when both the ASU and metro Phoenix hip-hop communities gather outside ASU’s Galvin Playhouse, located at 10th Street and Mill Avenue near the ASU Art Museum. 

This year’s program features a 3 vs. 3 dance battle format for dancers and a "scratch battle" called Kut the Weight, the latter of which is for emerging and established DJs in three different “weight classes”: lightweight (novice), middleweight (developing) and heavyweight (established). 

Armani Moten, a second-year dance major, said she is thrilled to participate in this year’s dance battles while also meeting new communities. “You don’t have to be a trained dancer to be a part of this event,” she said. “There are many events to get in where you fit in!” 

The night also includes performances by ASU alumni and the Phoenix street dance scene, along with special performances by iconic MCs Legend Medusa and Supernatural. 

"An MC, dancer and queen on the mic, Medusa represents the empowering truth that speaks to US all,” Magana said. And Supernatural, who Magana said is known for his on-the-spot freestyle and battle rap abilities, will bring “his mastery and skills in the purest form to Urban Sol engaging all in the experience and lived moment.” 

“What started off as a one day hip-hop festival has shapeshifted and evolved alongside the communities of culture here in metro Phoenix and with the Herberger Institute’s vision to be culturally competent and aware of its positions within the arts ecology of Arizona,” said Marcus White, assistant professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre. “Urban Sol helped set the stage for urban arts to drive collaboration between universities and communities. A lot has shifted over the last decade and Urban Sol must also shift and adapt. I am excited to see how Urban Sol continues to evolve as we embark on the 10th anniversary of the event in 2021.” 

Urban Sol 2019

Thursday, Nov. 14
Fader Manners and Letter Bending 
4-9 p.m., Trill Hip Hop Shop, 1817 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix

Friday, Nov. 15
Hip Hop Matters
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio Theatre, Bulldog Hall, ASU’s Tempe campus

Friday Night Films: Shero Collective and Making of a Brave Star
8-10:30 p.m., Sun Studios of Arizona, 1425 W. 14th St., Tempe

Saturday, Nov. 16
The Main Event
2-9 p.m., Nelson Fine Arts Center Plaza, ASU’s Tempe campus

Urban Sol is the first of three initiatives that comprise Sol Motion — using social dance movement and culture for SOLcial change. Supported in part by ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the program is rooted in and informed by “community engaged practice” to uplift community partnerships and knowledge as essential within the ecology of urban arts and culture.

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