Vancouver Asian Hip Hop Summit 2009

Words by Jenkin Au
Photography by Nico Mak

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On October 24th, 2009, the justalilhype! Crew attended the Asian Hip Hop Summit at Boss Nightclub. The event was hosted by Asiatic Empire and main-crowd promotions were done by DoubleDown Promotions. At the head of the game was Ryan Ventura, the main man behind Asian Hip Hop Summit Vancouver. Ryan’s first exposure to Asian Hip Hop Summit Vancouver was the first ever Asian Hip Hop Summit Vancouver, where he was both a performer and an organizer. The entire Asian Hip Hop Summit movement started in Koreatown of Los Angeles on April 20, 2002. This was meant to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots and to raise money for North Korean famine victims. Now in their overall 8th year, the Asian Hip Hop Summit is bigger than ever. However, for the Vancouver event, this was not the case.

The night started fine and on time. The emcees were testing the microphones and doing all the sound checks. First up were a Korean duo called Dime In The City, made up by MC’s Na-T and Insomniac. The problem was, there was no crowd. How can an event be bumpin’ without a crowd? No matter, the Korean duo went on with their performance. Up next was a Taiwanese MC known as MC Turbulance. His beats and flow was angry and raw and he followed up with some sick beat boxing. Matt Brevner and Sythe from Ill-Legitimate performed next but there still wasn’t a crowd. A visibly ticked off Matt Brevner stepped up into the cage and did a freestyle with a sick flow. He dedicated it to all the people outside that wouldn’t get to hear it. After asking Ryan Ventura what the problem was, it turned out that the promoters weren’t letting anyone in until the summit was over. This made no sense: the promoters make money over an event they didn’t create and yet they didn’t let any of the people that came for the event into the club. Still, performers continued and finished off the night, with performers by Toxic Slime Clique, made up by Kris Blade and Riff Raff, and finally T.Pak.

After the event, I had a quick chat with Ryan Ventura to ask the full story behind the marred night at Boss Nightclub. Not only was the show dead, it was the coldest nightclub I have ever been to. Ryan explains that everything started off when he asked for a favour. He asked the head of DoubleDown Promotions if they could cover the costs of the sound system, only a small fee of $180. Coming from the Summit, they received no revenue at all from this event, whereas the promoting group would benefit because of the niche event. Apparently, not only was Ryan turned down, but he was humiliated by the man behind DoubleDown Productions and was very disrespectful. In the end, the performers went on with the system built that came with Boss Nightclub. Come the day of the event, the heat was turned off, the sound guys were late, and the crowd had to wait outside. A show intended to be for those interested in local hip hop turned out to be a show for friends and the organizers. Ryan explains that he not only felt like a fool, he had never been more embarrassed before in his life.

Overall, Asian Hip Hop Summit needed to eliminate the middle man. Without the middle man, Asian Hip Hop Summit would have had much more control of the event and handled promotions and logistics much more effectively. Of course, there are other considerations such as venue and its costs, so perhaps the Summit needs another way of doing things. Bottom line, the artists for this Summit was great but the event was disappointing.