Vancity Still Loves Hip Hop Festival

Between the years 2004 and 2010 I was involved in setting up and promoting over 300 Hip Hop shows throughout Vancouver, New Westminster, Surrey, Langley, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Burnaby, Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, and various other cities in British Columbia. As an entrepreneur, my focuses were to provide touring artists with a lower tiered venue, local artists with a place to perform, and to provide a good show for the local enthusiasts in the scene. As I got older, and started moving away from being an artist myself, and the business, I noticed a change. Local artists were being forced to pay to perform at shows rather than given tickets to sell and a small fee for local headliners, the same artists were on all of the bills, and it seemed more and more the shows were either only at small cafes or large venues. Both can provide a great experience, but the lack of diversity in shows, and venues felt like a loss to the local hip hop community. We always targeted bars and clubs that capped at 300 people. We’d bring in 150 – 200 people every show, and everyone had a great time. Most importantly, hundreds of local artists got the opportunity to perform at a “UIYB” show over the years alongside some of their favourite local and foreign headliners.

Fast forward 15 years. It’s 2021 and I’m jumping back in the scene. Lots is different, but much is the same. We’ll be re-introducing ourselves to the scene with a Hip Hop Festival called “Vancity Still Loves Hip Hop”. I came up with this idea, not because I don’t think the current community does’t love hip hop per say but more so because I feel it has drifted from the culture. Our shows were often gritty, DJ’s scratched, rappers who weren’t trying to be the next 50 cent were on stage performing original styles of music. We had break crews at shows, violinists, and created our own culture that was tough, but welcoming.  Many of the successful artists in Vancouver today came to our shows and performed alongside the artists we were giving an outlet to.


Lenny Diko