When I went to my first Flavor Fest back in 2007, I didn’t know what to expect. At the time, it was my first really big Christian Hip Hop event since I had launched Wade-O Radio. The event was billed as the final performance for Cross Movement as a group and also featured performances by Da T.R.U.T.H., K-Drama and Braille amongst others. I loved the concerts. I still vividly remember Ambassador running back to DJ Official and telling him to run “Get U Open” back as the crowd went crazy after Fish dropped it. I remember hearing Braille perform “Blessed Man” for the first time and being blown away. I even remember K-Drama starting his set off with the “Yodel Song” and everyone being perplexed until the bass dropped.
The concert wasn’t the best part about Flavor Fest to me.
The fellowship, the workshops and the general sessions were what sealed it. To this day, there are spiritual principles that Tonic aka John Wells said in his workshop on building a record label that I still use in leading the Wade-O Radio team. The same goes for things that Pastor Phil Jackson from Tha House in Chicago said as well as the workshop conducted by his event coordinator in her workshop. The teaching and insight was that good.
Unfortunately, that was the last Flavor Fest I was able to attend. Finances and family obligations have kept me from going back until this past weekend. Being that it had been 5 years, I didn’t know what to expect this time either. To put it short: I was blown away. In large part, these 7 things really enhanced my experience:
7. Crossover’s New Campus is Really Dope
As many of you know, Crossover has taken over a Toys R Us and transformed it into a church. When I walked in the door Wednesday afternoon with Chris Chicago, I was completely blown away. I didn’t say anything for about 5 minutes. I was so encouraged that God had blessed Pastor Tommy and the Crossover family with a building like this. The lobby is large and open. The children’s area was spacious. The classroom’s are technologically up-to-date. And the auditorium, green room and office space are all top-notch. It’s dope that a church that uses hip hop to engage its community and beyond has a facility like this thru which to do ministry.
Here’s a video recap of their Back 2 School outreach that will give you a flavor of the ministry is doing beyond Flavor Fest as well as an idea of what the facility looks like.
6. MC Jin’s Opening Session
The former Ruff Ryder and current Jesus Rider (his word’s not mine. lol), officially set off Flavor Fest 2012 with a bang. During his 50-minute talk, he opened up about how his life experiences (BET’s 106 & Park Freestyle Champ, Vacation Bible School as a Child, Working the family business, signing with Ruff Ryders and moving to Hong Kong) all played a role in ultimately leading him to the Lord. As someone who knows him, I was still encouraged and challenged by his testimony.
5. Phanatik and Ambassador Performing Together
These two legends hadn’t been on the same stage together for 5 years. In talking to both of them about it, all three of us believe it was at the aforementioned Flavor Fest 2007. During his set on Friday Night, Phanatik brought Ambassador up to play hype man on his classic “Who’s The Man.” Given that Cross Movement was a huge early influence on me, this was a huge treat. It also got my mind to thinking…what would happen if they all got back together? Apparently Ambassador has been contemplating this as well.
4. The Emergence of the DJ
DJ Rhino and DJ Promote did a tremendous job of planning activities that incorporated the DJ in every aspect of the weekend. We DJ’d in the lobby between events. We had the SphereofHipHop.com DJ expo during the concerts in the back room. Several guys did Battle sets on the mainstage during the concerts. We held a panel on Saturday that was open for Q&A from artists, DJs, church leaders and fans alike. It was really encouraging to meet and experience the ministries of so many dope Christian DJs
3. Tera Carter’s Workshop
Tera has run the booking operations of Reach Records for the past 5 years. She’s been responsible for all four of their major tours, the album promo tours (Gravity, Rehab, The Good Life, etc) as well as booking the individual artists. During her workshop, she basically gave the blueprint for how they’ve been able to build the Reach brand via touring. She discussed budgeting, developing hard-ticket demand, and even tour routing. This workshop alone was worth at least $1000 in my opinion. It was definitely a real eye-opener.
2. Saturday Night’s Concert
I won’t give a full play by play, as that would have to be an entirely separate blog post. But Staurday’s concert was as good a line-up as I can remember at a Christian Hip Hop event. From D-Maub to Pastor AD3 to Fedel to theBreax to The Ambassador and finally closing with Jin, everyone put on a great show. theBreax announced that Beleaf and his wife were expecting a child. They also performed a new solo Ruslan song, called “In My Heart,” which went over very well with the crowd. Ambassador performed several songs from “Watch The Funeral” in addition to giving a rousing Gospel presentation. Fedel turned up the energy by having the entire crowd singing “Faith Without Works be Dead” from his smash “Work it Out.” Then, after performing “Y.O.G.O.” accapella and “Angels,” MC Jin closed the night out by bringing Uncle Reese out to perform “Crazy Love” and “Open Arms.” This was definitely a top-notch night. It was a treat to man the turntables for many of those performances.
That was just the artist portion of the Saturday Concert. The event also featured the Rapzilla.com Beat Battle, which Marv4MoBeats won, as well as a b-boy battle which was insane. The Table Turners also wowed the crowd with a 4-man DJ-set, that ensured that 4 of the 5 elements of Hip Hop glorified the Lord that night.
1. The Fellowship
I had so many valuable conversations this weekend. How often do you get to have meaningful dialogue with KJ-52, JSon, Larry Acosta (UYWI), The Ambassador, Sean Simmonds, D-Maub, K-Drama, Chris Chicago, Kindred (Breath Life Radio), MC Jin, Chris Belmont, Phanatik, Heesun Lee, DJ Rhino, Urban D, Da T.R.U.T.H., Fedel, Corey Paul, Derwin Gray, Viktory, Corey Hicks, Brinson, C-Straight and I’m sure I’m leaving some people out. These people have been doing ministry for many, many years and hearing different perspectives on many different issues was a true blessing for me. Many of these people are folks I talk to on the phone with all of the time, but rarely get to see. This is one of the true treasures of Flavor Fest.
Flavor Fest 2012 Was Great
There are very few conferences that are specifically designed for our community. In fact, the only other one I can truly think of that’s not a youth conference, would be Legacy. Its important that we continue to support these as they provide unparallelled opportunities for training, fellowship and ministry. Much love to Pastor Tommy as well as the staff and volunteers at Crossover Church for putting on an excellent event. It was an honor to be a part of it. Look for some video interviews I conducted there in the days and months to come.