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Saturday, April 19, Hip-Hop Wired traveled to Washington D.C. to see if the hubbub surrounding the second annual Broccoli City Festival was warranted. But before we get into the experience, it’s important to understand that the cause behind the concert is much grander than the event itself.

It’s interesting to see how a newcomer — especially an addition to the ever-growing festival scene — differentiates itself from competitors. Citing how behemoths like Coachella, which happened simultaneously just three hours behind, have become breeding grounds for giddy hipsters, Broccoli City’s market is much different. At this festival, music is but a vessel for a greater message from a collective that’s a social enterprise implementing innovative strategies on living healthier and more sustainable lifestyles.

Hopes to eventually impact the world began in a part of the District of Columbia that’s often overshadowed by its obvious political bases and the grip hold gentrification put on once all Black neighborhoods in other parts of the city. That said, it was important that the 2014 festival celebrate the spirit of Earth Day at Gateway Pavilion (formerly the psychiatric St. Elizabeths Hospital) in Southeast D.C. neighborhood, which Capitol Hill bigwigs often count out as a viable locale.

“This southside. They call this the ‘Dirty South.’ You got Northeast, Southeast, Uptown, Southwest… this one of the grimiest parts of D.C. You know what I mean? To have thousands of people smack-dab in the hood is unreal,” said local MC Fatz DaBigfella.

With the scene set and Broccoli City’s principles in place, it’s important to note that the vibe at the pavilion was amazing. Women crowded the space, as men stared and others followed in jubilation. And that’s without mentioning a list of performers that included up and comers like Future Band and Goldlink, as well as Kelela and DJ/producer Sango. Meanwhile, vendors served natural products, instructors offered yoga classes in a grass field towards the back of the venue, and food trucks kept patrons fed until the well ran dry.

The night was closed by back to back performances from Roc-A-Fella’s own Just Blaze and Cam’ron. How’s that for a festival commissioned with empowering communities with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their health and environment?

The inaugural Los Angeles show takes place on May 3. See photos from the 2014 Broccoli City Festival in Washington D.C. after the jump.

Photo: Broccoli City/Silas Photography

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