8/4/23 – Oakland, Cailf. — Kingmakers of Oakland partnered with the Bay Area legendary Hieroglyphics Crew to co-produce the 11th Annual Hiero Day in front of 8,000 fans at Oakland’s City Hall. This was a amazing day that brought uplifting community vibes in celebration of culture, art, fashion, and music. Kingmakers Crew rocked the stage and got the crowd hyped performing songs from their four studio albums. The big brothers, Souls of Mischief Crew, also brought the heat, celebrating 30 years in Hip Hop, performing timeless songs including their title track 93 ‘til Infinity. Common headlined the festival with an epic performance for Bay Area Hip Hop fans to enjoy.
Hiero Day formally takes place on September 3rd, a homage to the Souls of Mischief’s debut instant classic album‘93 til Infinity. But the event, which had its first iteration in 2012, has morphed into a weekend of celebration showcasing fashion, art, clothing, and of course, music. This year, Hiero Weekend coincided loosely with the 50th anniversary of hip-hop on August 11th. The gravity of the date served as a potent proclamation of the hip hop’s cultural and social impact, in the Bay Area and around the world. With over 30 performances across two stages attendees were treated to an incredible cultural experience seeing and meeting some of their music royalty.
If community is the heart, then hip hop is the heartbeat. This was on display Monday, as a star-studded ensemble consisting of Bay Area hip hop pioneers and up-and-coming artists took to the stage in front of Oakland City Hall.
Among the lineup were the eponymous Kingmakers Crew, a collective of emcees and musicians rooted in the Kingmakers organization and its values. The group had the crowd nodding their heads, chanting, and raising their fists celebrating these new voices in Conscious Hip Hop .
Watching the performance — and those that followed it from the “old guard” of hip hop luminaries — it was clear that a cultural transition was taking place. Change can oftentimes be tricky to navigate; in this case, organizations like Kingmakers will serve to ensure that the torch is passed securely from one hand to the next.
Building from the success of this year’s Hiero Weekend, Kingmakers aims to serve as a steward of opportunity, culture, and community. In doing so, the organization provides a canvas for a generation of young Black men to paint their own narrative.
Hiero on the Runway
The weekend started at Kingmakers of Oakland’s newly acquired multi-purpose building in West Oakland. The facility is undergoing a remodel being overseen by Toks Ajike, Facility Director, and includes dedicated spaces for hands-on training in music and media production, as well as an outdoor area for hosting events.
Notable names and newcomers alike graced the catwalk, united by a common thread of being brands borne from Oakland civic and cultural pride. Kingmakers debuted a selection of apparel in collaboration with the Hieroglyphics brand, featuring a QR code on the sleeve allowing others to quickly learn more about the Kingmakers organization.
The Hieroglyphics X Kingmakers collaborative apparel also features the infinity symbol, which arises from the union of the brands. “I really wanted to capture the infinite nature of what it means to keep feeding into community,” explains Kingmakers of Oakland’s design and production lead Senay Alkebu-Ian.
Indeed, community is at the heart of the work that Kingmakers does. The organization is dedicated to improving outcomes for young Black men by providing comradeship, opportunity, and now, a physical space to learn and grow in.
“To be in schools, to work with families, to talk about equity, to talk about policy and how that impacts folks and people of color — I think we have the platform to do that,” said Adrian Henderson, Director of Family and Community Engagement at Kingmakers.