Founded in 2002 by Olympia DJ and hip-hop activist Luvva J - real name Jose Gutierrez Jr. - in Vancouver, B.C., the non-profit organization Hip-Hop 4 the Homeless has now been spreading awareness of homelessness for a decade. Once a year, Luvva J and friends host the two-day event that includes one day of live performances by various hip-hop artists and offers free admission with donations of clothes, blankets, tents, food or anything that could be useful to the homeless. Day two of the annual event offers open doors to the homeless community, providing those in need the opportunity to take whatever necessities are available from the previous night's donations. A warm meal is also provided, along with a haircut and professional massage. In 2006 Luvva J decided he wanted to move the organization to the states and since then Olympia has happily become its home.
"The purpose of this event is to not only spread awareness of the issue but to encourage folks to get involved and develop a deeper understanding surrounding poverty in America" says Gutierrez, who has written for the Volcano in the past. Gutierrez also admits he enjoys seeing the artists that choose to play the yearly event use their talent and voice to help those in need.
Due to the closure of The Loft on Cherry, this year The Olympia Ballroom will partner up with Hip-Hop 4 the Homeless for the first time ever to continue the yearly tradition. Although The Olympia Ballroom is a new venue for the event, Gutierrez will stick with the usual game plan of creating a warm, welcoming and open space for the homeless population of Olympia to get out of the rain and enjoy itself.
Drawing needed attention to the homeless in need will always remain the top priority for the weekend, but Gutierrez says he spends a lot of time making sure the other organizations that choose to help with or sponsor Hip-Hop 4 the Homeless are recognized to the fullest.
This year's Hip-Hop 4 the Homeless music showcase will bring some of Olympia, Seattle and Portland's best. There will be DJs, spoken word and live performances by Khingz & OTOW Gang, Alex Duncan, Afrok & The Movement, Free Whiskey (my group), Speaker Minds and many more.
Find that old bag of clothes stashed out in your garage and use it to pay your way into an incredible evening of live music this Saturday at The Olympia Ballroom.
And if you're interested in volunteering on Sunday, holler at Luvva J at the show!
[Olympia Ballroom, Hip-Hop 4 the Homeless, Saturday, March 10 live music showcase featuring Khingz & OTOW Gang, Alex Duncan, Afrok & The Movement, Free Whiskey (my group), Speaker Minds and more, 5 p.m. to midnight, all-ages, $5 or donation for the homeless, 116 Legion Way SW, Olympia]