| The group Sandpeople, performing Oct. 23 with E-40 |
There was once a time that Cool Nutz thought POH Hop – Portland's only festival of hip hop -- was dead. The fans weren't behind him; the local hip hop scene seemed stagnant. So he called it off.
"As you see the scene stagnate and certain elements aren't doing what they could be … it's frustrating," says Cool Nutz, whose real name is Terrance Scott.
But the scene has evolved over the past few years and Scott has been right in the middle of it all, slowly building the annual hip hop festival up from the dead.
POH Hop 11 – one of the biggest hip hop festivals on the West Coast -- kicks off Wednesday night at The Ash Street, 225 SW Ash St., with Mic Crenshaw, Animal Farm, Serge Severe and more. On Thursday, it picks up at Backspace, 115 NW 5th Ave. with headliners Zion I and The Jacka, as well as eight other artists. The festival continues on Friday, Oct. 9 at Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th Ave. with Sleep, Illmaculate and many others. The final POH Hop 11 performance will be held Friday, Oct. 23 at the Roseland Theater with E-40, Sandpeople, Maniac Lok, and others.
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Working closely this year with promoter Anthony Sanchez of Runaway Productions, Scott says the multi-night event is packed with some of the best performers of Northwest Hip Hop. Many of these local artists are being signed to record labels and are touring the country and the world.
But for those artists still connecting with fans, releasing albums on their own or publishing to their MySpace Music pages, the festival has provided a way for them to bump shoulders with established names in hip hop.
"Not only are you on POH Hop," Scott says. "You're on a night playing with E-40."
With the festival increasing in popularity each year, friendly competition has broken out among performers, to both get on the POH Hop bill, but also to increase their professionalism and skills. Scott says it resembles the early days of hip hop for him, when artists would get together to outdo each other.
"They hang out together and get along," he said.
Sanchez says there are a number of artists that should be playing POH Hop, but aren't. To accommodate all the artists the two promoters wanted, Sanchez says they'd need about six nights of venues – something more akin to MusicFest NW.
This year, Sanchez says they were able to book several venues that don't normally book hip hop. He says he and Scott want to make this a true part of the Portland community, to make it much more than a once a year occurrence. Scott hopes it can help propel the Portland hip hop scene into national recognition.
Both men expect next year's festival to expand and continue with smaller performances throughout the year. In August, POH Hop sponsored a conference with several hundred artists, venue promoters, music journalists and others in the industry to give tips and training to young artists.
With his new local hip hop showcase on Jammin 107.5, the NW Breakout Show, Scott is immersed in local music. The show has enabled him to promote POH Hop 11 like he hasn't been able to before – giveaways, interviews with artists and playlists to promote local acts set to perform.
Even before POH Hop 11 has started, Sanchez and Scott are already planning number 12 in their heads.
"Hopefully, it'll be a banner year for POH Hop," Scott says.
For more information about POH Hop 11, visit www.myspace.com/POHHop.