To give context to my THOPfest experience we’ll have to go back to 2014 when I discovered Pppaccee & The Herbalistics’ Inland Empire area Sunny Days & Vibes showcase. 60 East was just one of the many names I had seen big on the flyers. Later that same year when I started writing for Jooseboxx and starting to bug those very names I would see on those flyers for interviews and article write-ups, I noticed 60 East, named for one of the Inland Empire’s most frequently used freeways, was not someone I would just run into in the I.E. the way I would with MC Lyfe, Epyk, Wonders Trillions, Greaseball, Hephty, Calligraphy, Mando the DJ, Os One, Vision and others. I eventually heard word that he was in Europe, touring and grinding. Over time I heard his music and wrote about it here and had tried to keep my ear to the ground for his next moves ever since.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised when just a few years later his Happiness of Pursuit Festival event was announced with flyers announcing dope hip-hop acts from all over the country playing in the Inland Empire. Fast forward 3 years later and fresh off of losing a second consecutive “Who Got Next?” Showcase626 to P the Emcee and Cam Archer, I see a THOPFest Launch Party competition flyer. I hesitated for a moment, ‘do I want the IE’s dopest + co. to see me lose two contests in a row?’ but ultimately I was hungry for a win so I threw down the bill to enter and was stoked for the chance to finally meet Mr. East in person.
Won the @THOPFEST Launch Party contest tonight- thanks to all the friends that came out to support, everyone in the crowd that rocked with me and everyone that helped make the event happen @60east @noa_james @lesa_j @firewatercantina @bigrobthechamp @rawz_ir @allflowsofficial @zzay92 @yahcreates Beat by @kill.casket ; 📷: @balanced_production #thopfest #happinessofpursuit #tanjintwiggy #iehiphop #tanjintwiggywoo #intheie #thop #60east #bricktoyaface #showcase626 #tanjint #wiggy #woo #wca909 #nosleep
The contest was at Firewater Bar in Ontario off of Holt which I was told was where the festival itself would ALSO be. I had to do a double-take – this was a standard sized bar with a big parking lot in Ontario but I was being told they convert the lot into the fest! After I won the contest (peep my Instagram for the highlights) I saw some social media sniping from some cats not from the area who lost the contest saying the festival was a fraud for being at a normal bar but I thought the exact opposite: in the wake of the Vibe in Riverside closing, many have tried especially Lesa J, Noa James (of BTYF), Giliead 7 and Phantom Thrett (of Serious Cartoons), to keep events cracking in the I.E. and 60 East was doing a great good along with his team in trying to make a full on event happen at an easy to access spot in the Inland Empire. To build something like this from the ground-up can be rewarding but also a thankless job along the way and once I grasped what the event really was I was very proud to have just won myself a slot at it.
So when I pulled up to Holt Street about 61 minutes before my scheduled set time it was packed and the speakers from Firewater Cantina echoed down the boulevard. I walked in and it was already cracking – graffiti artists on multiple walls, hot fry vendors and young Latinas selling tall boys, various stages, Cam Archer and Big Rob running up to me making sure I knew my set-time…
Reel of me in the earlier hours of @THOPfest 1 month ago - more THOPFest coverage from me and the @Jooseboxx team this month! Huge shoutout to @calmfixup of WCA backing me at this performance and everyone who made THOPFest happen! song: "Hooked" from Guardians of the I.E. - Awesome RemixTape EP out now on all platforms and comic shops around the I.E. 📷: @knawledgevisuals #thopfest #jooseboxx #intheie #iehiphop #knawledgevisuals #knawledge #hooked #gotie #guardiansoftheie #mcu #marvel #guardiansofthegalaxy #tanjintwiggy #tanjint #wiggywoo #westcoastavenger #avengers #endgame #avengersendgame #threadscientific #thetbrand #nerdcore #nerdcorehiphop
The red carpet and press gamut afterwards was fun, the food trucks were legit. I'd walk into the bar itself and see Rawz DJing, or 2mex, Noa James, D'zyl 5k1 and other luminaries holding court, running panels. It was the best long day of hip-hop I’ve had in forever. Fresh State was there, Showcase626, EOTR Network showed up Mid-day, and everyone was blazin’, drinkin’, grubbin’, socializing. It usually takes several days over several cities to see all those friends so to consolidate all the folks in one place for a day was amazing. EOTR, 18Scales, Nemy, Thascool and Rane Raps were some standout sets from the earlier part of the day. Cam Archer’s freestyles while hosting were dope. Noa James and Cookbook’s banter was hilarious. Vel, Gavlyn and Sa-Roc were probably my favorite sets of the night due to their tight balance of originality and execution. 60 East’s set was fun as hell as he busted out Thai sticks, Self-Provoked and Elzhi. I left before Sick Jacken took the stage (I was there since like noon foos!) but I saw the Griselda crew rock a bit and that was great stuff- they seemed genuinely surprised at how much love and dedicated fandom they had in the I.E. My recap doesn’t do justice as to how massive of a day this was but suffice to say, 60 East has built a young but solid institution with this festival, it was as legit as any event I’ve attended and easier to blaze at than most to boot. I truly look forward to being involved next year. Peep Jooseboxx in the coming weeks as King Dice and the team roll out video interview coverage and more!
Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is staff writer for JooseBoxx, a youth hip-hop and poetry tutor, and member of the Inland Empire nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers. Catch more of their work at westcoastavengers.com, follow Tristan on Twitter @Tanjint or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org