HipHop Festival 4ESydney is returning to Western Sydney this year with an impressive line-up

Nardean, who is one of the many returning artists this year, performs at a previous 4ESydney festival. Photo: Zach Janus/supplied.

After three long years of Covid-19 postponements, 4ESydney returns, delivering a jam-packed two-day event on Friday, 24th June and Saturday, 25th June at The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre, writes Tahli Blackman.

Vyvienne Alba is the Founder of Vyva Entertainment and is the Director and driving force behind the 4 Elements Sydney (4ESydney) Youth Festival.

“The conference is essentially a day for the community and particularly for emerging artists to connect and network with each other, to understand what the industry is like now and how we can make it better,” says 4ESydney Director Vyvienne Alba.

The 4ESydney conference comes up first on Friday, running from 10 am to 7 pm. This event is hosted by Shyamla and Maxine Johns and includes multiple sessions and conversations between community and industry leaders about issues surrounding the music industry. These conversations are also set to examine the current state of the post-pandemic touring and venue challenges for musicians, exploring some solutions.

This year’s 4ESydney event will include the conference with multiple discussions by leading keynote speakers and experts. Photo: Zach Janus/supplied.

The conference has always been a key part of the 4ESydney yearly events program. One of this year’s keynote speakers is Dr Alethea Beetson who is the Artistic Director of Digi Youth Arts. Dr Beetson will discuss the power of insurgence amongst First Nations artists. The HipHop and Other Spaces session will talk about the representation of HipHop and how artists are developing alternative income streams.

“Anyone is welcome to attend the conference, it’s a really important event that’s based around dialogue and I encourage people who are into HipHop, music, arts or the music industry to come along,” says Alba.

The festival day follows, starting at 12 pm and concluding at 10 pm. The festival is free, open to all ages, is family-friendly and involves a variety of musical and dance performances, competitions, DJ sets, live graffiti art walls, exhibitions, food trucks and more.

It has become a tradition at 4ESydney for street artists to continuously create art as the day of the festival goes on. There are many opportunities for creativity this year. Photo: Zach Janus/supplied.

Alba believes that The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre is a great space for this year’s 4ESydney event, saying that the team have utilised the space so well.

“Out the back of the centre we will have our main stage where the music performances will happen, there will also be a variety of food trucks and market stalls outside,” she reveals.

“As you enter the indoor space you will find a number of activities happening there, including a current exhibition going on at the Arts Centre where audience members are invited to draw and integrate their art onto the walls.”

Every year the festival gets bigger and better, trying to top the crowds and activities from the years before. The festival is an extremely accessible event and was nominated at the 2016 National Live Music Awards and won the 2018 Zest Award for best Community Business Partnership.

This year the 4ESydney line-up is more impressive than ever, including some big-name artists and once again focusing on First Nations representation.

ARIA-nominated Warnindilyakwa artist Emily Wurramara returns to 4ESydney with a new performance and setlist this year. Photo: Zach Janus/supplied.

AIR award-winning and ARIA-nominated artist Emily Wurramara from Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory has played many big Australian festivals in the past and will also be performing at 4ESydney. Malyangapa and Barkindji HipHop artist BARKAA is one of the event’s most anticipated names to hit the stage and will also be serving up a sweet set this year.

“Really excited that 4ESydney is back up and running and can’t wait for what the future holds for the festival now that things are looking better, proud to be a part of the festival and can’t wait to come together with everybody,” said BARKAA in a press release for 4ESydney.

Also announced to join the line-up is renowned Australian female group Hot Brown Honey and 2020 Unearthed Artist of the Year, an Indigenous rapper from Tweed Heads JK-47. The DJs on this year’s line-up include the names Mistah Cee, DJ D, Diola, Juzzlikedat and more.

There will be multiple opportunities for dancers to shine in the performances and battles held at this year’s 4ESydney festival. Photo: Zach Janus/supplied.

“It’s always a battle trying to select the best artists for each year’s line-up and we’re currently in the process of curating a second event this year to bring in more talent who wasn’t available this time around,” says Alba.

“We’re really excited and thankful to every artist who has said yes this year and is contributing to making this event what it is, an experience of sharing culture and exposure for the arts.”

This is the first year that 4ESydney will be held at The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre, with its previous location being The Bankstown Arts Centre. The festival has always been held across Western Sydney and Sydney, with representation and celebration of First Nations artists being at the forefront of why this event is held.

“For us to be in Blacktown is so exciting and we made sure that there’s a lot of local artists from Western Sydney who is being highlighted in this year’s line-up,” says Alba.

“I challenge people who think they aren’t into HipHop to come down and see what we’re about. Anyone is welcome to attend and they should because it’s an awesome day that has something for everyone.”

4ESydney will run on Friday, 24th June and Saturday, 25th June at The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre. For tickets and information, visit https://www.4esydney.com/

Tahli Blackman is the arts and entertainment editor of the Sydney Sentinel.

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