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206 Zulu 17th Anniversary

206 Zulu 17th Anniversary Special
Uplift | Preserve | Celebrate
With reflections by Big Zo, Georgio Brown, Malika Patti, Mz Music Girl, Orbitron, Queen Kitty Wu, Shooter in the Town, Supreme La Rock & More!

Saturday, February 13
6pm PST
Livestreaming on Facebook and YouTube


Check out the 206 Zulu 17th Anniversary Kick-Off event the night before!

Pangea: Hip Hop Heals
Album Release & Artist Discussion
With guests Dumi Right (USA), Eli Almic (Uruguay), Emile YX? (South Africa), Maze 022 (India), Tati Chaves (Costa Rica), ZDC (Australia) & More!

Friday, February 12
6pm PST
Sign up REGISTER (free)

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Emile YX?- A Pioneering Force in South African Hip Hop

Emile Jansen, widely known as Emile YX?, is a monumental figure in South African Hip Hop. His contributions have transcended music, impacting social activism, education, and cultural preservation. As a founding member of the influential group Black Noise and the creator of the Heal the Hood Project, Emile YX? has utilized his platform to foster community development and upliftment. On April 30th, 2024, Emile was formally recognized for this work by being awarded the civilian honor, The Order of Ikhamanga by the South African government. This award carries with it a deep acknowledgement of the power of Hip Hop from an official governmental perspective but perhaps more importantly, it serves as a premise for the world to reconsider the history of one of Hip Hop’s most impactful pioneers.

Early Life and Musical Beginnings

Born in Cape Town during the apartheid era of the 1980s, Emile’s journey into Hip-Hop was deeply intertwined with the struggle for freedom and justice. In this tumultuous time, where artistic expression became a potent form of resistance, Hip Hop served as both a cultural phenomenon and a tool for activism. Alongside Black Noise, Emile used his music to shine a spotlight on the social injustices plaguing South Africa, urging young people to unite and advocate for positive change. For many, Hip Hop wasn’t just entertainment- it was a lifeline, offering a voice and a means to resist the oppressive forces of apartheid. In the face of systemic discrimination and violence, Hip Hop emerged as a source of inspiration, transcending racial divides to provide solace and empowerment to disenfranchised youth. Its defiant spirit planted a seed of rebellion, granting them the vision to carve out a destiny free from the shadows of apartheid.

Black Noise

Formed in the late 1980s, Black Noise became one of the pioneering groups in South African Hip Hop. The group’s music, characterized by its socio-political commentary and dedication to cultural education, resonated deeply within the marginalized communities of South Africa. Emile and his group members were instrumental in organizing Hip Hop workshops, dance battles, and educational programs, which played a significant role in the cultural awakening of many young South Africans. Black Noise’s influence extended beyond music, creating a cultural movement that encouraged pride in identity and active participation in societal change.

In 1998, Emile founded the Heal the Hood Project, a non-profit organization aimed at using Hip Hop as a tool for social change. The project focuses on empowering young people through arts education, mentorship, and community development initiatives. Offering workshops in dance, graffiti, rap, and beatboxing, Heal the Hood has provided thousands of young South Africans with constructive outlets for their creativity and a sense of community. The project’s impact is profound, offering a safe space for youth to express themselves, build self-esteem, and develop skills that extend beyond the arts.

Heal the Hood is an example of how Emile’s work extends beyond music and direct community engagement. He is a vocal advocate for education and cultural preservation. His efforts include promoting the importance of historical awareness and the need to retain indigenous knowledge and practices. Emile believes that through understanding and embracing their cultural roots, young people can build a stronger and more resilient identity. He emphasizes that true change begins in the mind, fostering a self-worth that transcends monetary value.

The Order of Ikhamanga in Silver

Emile YX? ‘s tireless dedication to arts and culture has been rightfully acknowledged with the prestigious Order of Ikhamanga in Silver. This esteemed award, presented by President Cyril Ramaphosa, serves as a testament to Emile’s outstanding contributions to the enrichment of South Africa’s cultural landscape. The Order of Ikhamanga celebrates individuals who have demonstrated excellence in various fields, including arts, culture, literature, music, journalism, and sport, making Emile’s recognition all the more significant.

The ceremony, held at the distinguished president’s guest house in Pretoria, marked a momentous occasion where Emile was honored among peers and dignitaries. His receipt of this honor underscores the nation’s deep appreciation for his unwavering commitment to cultural and social upliftment. Emile’s remarkable journey stands as an inspiration to aspiring artists and activists alike, symbolizing the profound impact that one individual can have in fostering positive change within their community and beyond.

Receiving the Order of Ikhamanga was a profound moment for Emile. He expressed pride in representing his heritage and the power of cultural identity. His attire at the ceremony, which included elements representing his Indian, African, and Bushman (Khoisan) heritage, symbolized his commitment to honoring his diverse roots. Emile viewed the award as not just a personal achievement but as a testament to the potential for healing and positive change within South Africa. He emphasized that the award serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by people of color and First Nation individuals globally.

In his reflections, Emile highlighted the philosophy of Ubuntu, which emphasizes that identity is collective, encompassing past, present, and future generations. He noted the global relevance of informed citizenship and the role of heritage in shaping political and social choices. Emile compared the award to a “potjiekos,” a South African stew, symbolizing the rich mixture of ideas and experiences it represents. This metaphor underscores the interconnectedness of his work and the collective effort required to achieve social change.

Future Endeavors

Looking forward, Emile continues to champion causes close to his heart. He remains active in promoting Hip Hop as a vehicle for education and empowerment. His future projects include expanding the reach of Heal the Hood and creating more opportunities for young people to engage in artistic and cultural activities. Emile’s vision is to see a South Africa where Hip Hop and other art forms are fully integrated into educational curriculums and community programs. He envisions a network of wellness centers that address both creative needs and mental health, providing holistic support for the youth.

Emile draws strength from his sense of calling and the profound influence of creativity. He credits mentors and fleeting moments of wisdom from people throughout his life for providing lasting motivation. He fondly recalls his grandfather’s encouragement and his parents’ exemplary roles as a teacher and a soccer coach, which laid the foundation for his journey. These influences shaped his path, especially through Hip Hop culture and breakdancing, which helped him overcome shyness and build confidence.

Evolution of Hip-Hop and Community Engagement

The journey Emile has undertaken with Hip Hop and community involvement has undergone profound transformations over time. Reflecting on the impact of social media, he notes its dual effects: broadening the reach of his work while intensifying the apprehensions of young participants. Emile remarks, “You know, how easy it was to engage young people to start breakdancing versus now that social media and the ability to record (exist)? Many fear stepping into the spotlight, wary of global exposure and potential criticism.” This juxtaposition highlights the complexities of technological advancement. Emile contrasts this with an era of slower but more intimate communication. Despite these shifts, his dedication to Hip Hop’s core values as a catalyst for societal change remains unwavering. He underscores Hip Hop’s pivotal role in South Africa’s liberation movement and continues to foster empowerment and community cohesion through initiatives like Heal the Hood.

While he has seen many successes, Emile has also faced significant challenges in uplifting marginalized communities through Hip Hop, primarily stemming from the deep-seated history of self-hate and internalized oppression within these communities. He points out that this self-hate, a legacy of systemic oppression, often leads to internal conflict and betrayal within the community, hindering collective progress. Emile poignantly reflects, “It is that we have been taught to turn on each other. The first problem we find is the ones closest to us and then, you know, it’s never the ones that are really implementing the pain. It’s always directed at family members, at the immediate community and people who look like you.” Despite these obstacles, Emile remains committed to planting seeds of change, recognizing that not all will thrive immediately. His experiences highlight the long-term impact of his work, with some individuals taking years to realize and appreciate the lessons he imparted.

In continued consideration of the long-term nature of the cultural movement he is part of, Emile envisions creating a “Hip Hop U.N.,” a united global community of Hip Hop practitioners dedicated to sharing best practices, mobilizing resources, and generating alternative income for marginalized communities. This initiative aims to leverage the power of Hip Hop culture, which has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, to benefit local communities rather than individual artists or exploitative middlemen. Emile is actively working towards this vision through initiatives like the upcoming Hip Hop Congress conference, where participants from around the world will engage in discussions and workshops.

Emile YX?’s influence on South African Hip-Hop and his broader cultural impact cannot be overstated. Through his music, activism, and dedication to education, he has inspired countless individuals and left an indelible mark on the world’s cultural landscape. His recent recognition with the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver is a fitting tribute to a lifetime of service and a reminder of the power of art to effect meaningful change. As Emile continues his journey, his legacy will undoubtedly inspire future generations to harness their creativity for the betterment of society. His work exemplifies the transformative power of Hip Hop, demonstrating that it is not just a musical genre but a potent force for social change and community empowerment.

Washington Legislation aims to Combat Graffiti with Paint-spraying Drones and Potential Surveillance Upgrades

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has been granted $1 million dollars to experiment with two new anti-graffiti strategies which they will employ on a trial basis before reporting back to lawmakers at the end of this year. 

The first strategy employs newly equipped drones capable of painting over graffiti in particularly difficult or dangerous to reach places, such as bridges, overpasses, and high walls. 

The second strategy involves focusing on “potential solutions for upgrading the state’s existing traffic camera infrastructure… to determine if higher-resolution cameras, tracking software, and additional camera placements would enhance our ability to detect graffiti activity,” according to Tina Werner, spokesperson for the WSDOT. 

Apparently, out of the $1 million dollar budget for this project, only a “small portion” has been allocated toward the WSDOT’s new drones. The remainder of the funds will go into exploring traffic camera technologies. 

This pilot program explicitly focuses on the areas between Tacoma and Seattle along the I-5 and the North Spokane corridor. 

The Drones… They Can Paint Now 

The idea of anti-graff drones is attributed to Mike Gauger, a Tacoma area maintenance crew worker for the WSDOT. Reportedly, Gauger has had the idea in mind for over two years and the inspiration came from work in the field. 

Gauger became increasingly perturbed by graffiti removal jobs, which take maintenance crews away from other assignments. Additionally, graff cover-ups necessitate the use of specialized trucks known as UBIT’s or Under Bridge Inspection Trucks, which are capable of suspending workers over the side of bridges or ledges. There are only six UBIT’s in the state. 

Meanwhile, drones with high-resolution cameras were already in use for routine bridge inspections in the Tacoma area. Gauger saw the potential for simplifying graff-removal assignments by modifying these drones and reached out to drone manufacturer Aquiline, who developed the idea with him. 

Now, Mike and his crew will begin testing out a prototype anti-graffiti drone in the Tacoma and Olympia areas. According to the WSDOT, “drones cannot be flown over active lanes of traffic, so the areas we are treating will be in closed work zones or managed with rolling slowdown closures while the drones are in use.”

A graffiti buffing drone in action. Credit- Washington State Department of Transportation

The drones are fed a water-based latex paint nick-named “DOT gray” from a source on the ground. 

WSDOT Explores Anti-Graffiti Surveillance Tactics 

Although a presumable majority of funding is being funneled into “testing systems capable of identifying persons,” specific implementation of this part of the program remains less clear at this time. 

Spokesperson Werner emphasized that the surveillance efforts are still in, “very early stages,” however noting that, “WSDOT’s current cameras are designed and located to monitor traffic. If cameras were to be used for graffiti surveillance, the camera resolution and locations (additional focus on retaining walls, bridges, etc.) would need to be upgraded. Also, additional tracking software upgrades would be required as well as staff training.” 

Language within the bill denotes an effort to, “investigate and test improvements to systems capable of identifying persons who damage property with graffiti.” 

House Bill 1989, was effectively signed into law by Washington state governor, Jay Inslee on March 15, 2024. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, can be read in full here and Washington State voters can find out which of their representatives voted for HB 1989 here

Governor Jay Inslee’s office maintains an online contact form and a phone line (360-902-4111) for voters who would like to voice their opinion on House Bill 1989 and the potential future uses of the legislation. 

Always Remembered 2023- Azagaia, The Tip of the Spear

Some 206 Zulu readers will be familiar with our Always Remembered series, a tradition we carry each year where we take time to hold space for people within Hip Hop and its peripheral communities who passed on over the course of the preceding year. In the past, this remembrance has taken the form of an annual video episode of our Meeting of the Minds podcast. For 2024, we’ll be sharing these memories in a different way.

Over the course of this year, we’ll be sharing a written commemoration of some of these influential members of our greater community, one at a time. We know that the act of remembrance is a tremendous power we have to keep our predecessors and ancestors alive through our collective voice. In that grain, stay posted for our ongoing series of brief stories looking into the lives of some of the fascinating people that transcended their physical frames in the course of 2023. And if any of these individuals have impacted you in any way, remember, your retelling of these stories will keep them alive in perpetuity. This is Always Remembered…

Edson da Luz aka Azagaia was an emcee, born in his artistry from the same winds that carried the youth of the South Bronx to create Hip Hop as a force for resistance as much as it was a source of entertainment. He died last year after a reported epileptic seizure at the age of 38.

As much as he was an emcee, Azagaia was an activist. In his homeland of Mozambique, a country where public demonstrations critical of President Filipe Nyusi’s government are rare,  Azagaia was unspoken and recalcitrant. His courage to face down power through his music inspired many inside and outside of the Portuguese-speaking Hip Hop scene as he sang about injustice, the climate crisis, mistreatment of people by repressive authorities, poverty, and other social injustices he observed throughout his life.

Azagaia was from Namaacha, a border town not far from the capital Maputo, where the three countries of Mozambique, South Africa, and Eswatini meet. From those crossroads, a growing artist could see a lot. Among other elements of transition and change that could be observed near those borders, the first President of independent Mozambique, Samora Machel, died in a plane crash about 12 miles from Namaacha, in circumstances that have long been debated with suspicion.  Growing up through the phase of newly independent Mozambique that he did, observing first hand the troubles of the recent colonial past and tasting the hope that springs from a return to independence, Azagaia made music urging the people of his country to think about social inequalities and their effects on poor people. He spoke out against imperialism and slavery, but also didn’t hold back on injustice from leaders at home in Mozambique.

The effect he had on his community can be seen through the nationwide demonstrations following his funeral procession that brought thousands out on the streets of Maputo to march on the capital, chanting “resistance” and “power to the people.” Others set up similar marches in almost every other major city in Mozambique the weekend after his death.

”(Azagaia) never sided with any political party because he was the voice of the people,” Tirso Sitoe, an organizer of one of the protest vigils, told The Associated Press. “He showed us that things have not changed since independence (in 1975). The only thing that has changed is the color of (the rulers’) skin.”

On the day of his funeral, the people took to the streets to carry his coffin past the president’s house. Riot police responded with tear gas. Shouts of protest and clouds of lachrymator surrounding the mortal body of a revolutionary on its last journey before returning to the earth, seems appropriate for an artist whose stage name was a reference to a traditional spear. It’s also a powerful symbol of the way artists can live beyond their vessels, through music and organizing, and how the people continue to give them life. In that grain, we remember Azagaia.

13th Annual Beat Masters

206 Zulu presents:
DEADLINE TO ENTER: Sunday, July 21st

Sunday, July 28th, 2024 (2:00pm-7:00pm)
$500 – 2nd Place
Judges: TBD

Sunday, July 28, 2024

Westlake Park (Downtown)
401 Pine St, Seattle, WA

Event starts at 2pm. Sign in is at 2:00pm, please arrive no later than 2:30pm. Beat Battle will begin at 3pm promptly. 
Note: Parking may be difficult to find, please plan ample time to get to location. 


Out of all online submissions, 16 will be selected. Those chosen will be given an opportunity to compete at the beat battle on Sunday, July 28th.
The 16 producers selected will be announced Wed. July, 24th.

Preliminary Round – (60 seconds) / 2 rounds each (16 producers)
1st Round – (60 seconds) / 2 rounds each (top 8 will go head to head)
Semi-finals – (60 seconds) / 2 rounds each (top 4 will go head to head)
Finals – (60 seconds) / 2 rounds each (head to head)

Preliminary round: Each producer plays two beats at exactly 60 seconds.

The top 8 contestants will be chosen to compete head to head. During the 1st round, each producer will play two beats at exactly 60 seconds.

4 semi-finalists will be chosen and compete head to head against another producer. Each producer will play 2 beats consecutively at exactly 60 seconds.

The top 2 finalists will compete for the champion title and $1,000!

The Beat Masters Beat Battle will take place outdoors at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle right in front Westlake Mall. Please only bring beats on a portable media player with a 1/8″ output. (such as iPod, laptop, tablet, mp3 player, etc)

Organizers and judges selected do not tolerate bias or discrimination in any form including association, affiliation, technical-preferences, creed, ethnicity, or gender. Leave egos at home. This is a positive event in the name of good spirited competition and artistic expression. No weapons, alcohol or drugs permitted on premises. All beats shall be free of profanity and/or sexually suggestive themes. Phrases/hooks can be be incorporated into production.

For questions/Info email:

Sponsored by Downtown Seattle AssociationSeattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, ArtsWA and National Endowment of the Arts.

Register below to compete!

Beat Masters Home
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Voice of the Suffocated Throats: The Power of Hip Hop and Toomaj Salehi’s Fight for Freedom Through Music


The 33-year-old Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, known for his protest songs and thought-provoking lyricism, was sentenced to death on April 24, 2024, by a court in Iran on charges of “spreading corruption on Earth” or Moharebeh which in classical Arabic translates literally to “fighting” but is sometimes used colloquially to connote fighting against God.. 

Under Iran’s authoritarian legal system, artists must adhere to guidelines set by state authorities. The government targets musicians and performers who use art to address social issues or advocate for political change. Music genres such as Rock and Hip-Hop, perceived as Western influences, face heightened scrutiny and censorship.

Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Iranian government has tightly controlled cultural expression, imposing strict regulations on media, literature, music, and visual arts. The Islamic Republic of Iran has a long history of suppressing artists. For example, the imprisonment of musician Mehdi Rajabian for distributing underground music or the banning of concerts and albums by popular artists like Shahin Najafi due to their critical lyrics. These draconian measures have led to widespread conformity and fear among some artists; others see no option but to resist and create subversive work. 

What did Toomaj Salehi do?

Toomaj, a metal factory worker and emcee from Iran’s Bakhtiari ethnic minority has faced a series of arrests and legal battles in response to his music and activism. Initially arrested on September 13, 2021, for charges including insulting the Supreme Leader and propaganda against the state, he received a six-month suspended sentence.

Then, following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died while in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police, authorities sentenced Toomaj to six years in prison for his involvement in those protests.  After enduring torture and being in solitary confinement for 252 days, Iran’s Supreme Court found flaws in the original sentence, and Toomaj was released.

Despite the risk of being imprisoned again, Toomaj continued to advocate for government accountability. As a result of his activism and publicly disclosing the details of his confinement, he was detained once more on November 30, 2023. Authorities took Toomaj to Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan, where it is assumed that he continues to be tortured as he awaits capital punishment. 

Poster of the rapper Toomaj Salehi at a February 2023 rally in Paris on the 44th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. Credit…Teresa Suarez/EPA, via Shutterstock

Global Outcry: Support for Toomaj Salehi

Sadly, none of this is surprising for Iranians who have been under a dictatorship for the last 45 years.  In 2023 alone, the Islamic Republic executed 834 prisoners, according to a human rights report. But Toomaj’s supporters worldwide, inspired by his fight for freedom and expression, see this imposed sentence as a call to act and demand his immediate release. 

The news outlet Iran International reported rallies in major cities around Europe, Canada, and the US, where thousands condemned the sentence, raising placards and chanting in unison, “Women, Life, Freedom!” (a phrase used during the Mahsa Amini rallies), and “Hey Hey, Ho Ho/The Islamic Republic has got to go.” In Brussels, people gathered before Tehran’s consular building chanting similar slogans. In other European cities, people sang along with Toomaj’s songs

An anonymous rapper from Tehran stated, “ On days when words have lost their meaning, Toomaj makes words clear.” 

300 Iranian musicians have also united in solidarity with the imprisoned rapper, signing a statement that calls for the immediate reversal of the death sentence and the release of hundreds of others detained for protesting. They see Toomaj as a symbol of hope for a disillusioned generation who aspire for freedom and a normal life.

Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi said the death sentence is “medieval,” demanding the world stand up against this “barbaric” injustice. Panahi, a paroled dissident, visited Toomaj when the rapper was previously released and said he couldn’t bear listening to the details of the torture Toomaj had endured while in detention, adding. “It is our duty to take action.”

Prominent activists like Zahra Rahnavard, who has been on house arrest for 13 years, political prisoners, exiles, and other members of the Iranian diaspora have joined the condemnation. They are screaming together, “Toomaj must be free.”

The anonymous rapper, interviewed by Variety, said, “In my opinion, keeping the historical memory alive is one of the tools of Toomaj’s civil struggle- for the freedom of humanity and not the execution of humanity.” 

The Power of Hip-Hop: Toomaj Salehi’s Impact

According to a report by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFMI), an entity established by the United Nations to examine alleged human rights abuses in Iran, Toomaj Salehi’s arrest was an example of the repressive tactics used by Iranian authorities to suppress dissent, particularly among artists and writers.

Systematic attacks against civilians are considered crimes against humanity, the type of crimes that Toomaj’s music denounced directly, as in his songs “Soorakh Moosh” (Rat Hole),  “Normal,” and “Karoon,” all of which are pressing critiques of the government, expressing dissent, and touching on themes of struggle and resilience in the face of adversity.  His family, friends, and associates all believe he is being condemned for making music, for making Hip-Hop, an art form that is banned in Iran. 

A group of human rights experts from the United Nations released a statement saying, “As harsh as Mr. Salehi’s songs are to the government, they are manifestations of artistic freedom and cultural rights… Art must be allowed to criticize, provoke, and push society’s boundaries.” 

On songs like “Normal,” Toomaj does just that with lyrics like:

The UN experts highlighted that everyone should be free to engage in discussions, express themselves artistically, and participate in cultural and political activities without fear of punishment, torture, or even death.

By this standard, the United States has stifled voices too. During the era of McCarthyism, which peaked in the late 1940s and early 1950s, artistic expression faced severe restrictions and censorship due to the fear of communism. Even in 1989, Two Live Crew’s album “As Nasty As They Wanna Be” was declared legally obscene, banned and taken off the shelves. However, it is important to distinguish that in the United States, rap lyrics are technically protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. 

Toomaj Salehi’s Brave Stand

For Toomaj’s battle, at this moment, every second counts.  Activist Elica Le Bon believes it is through Hip-Hop that Toomaj will be freed. Le Bon told Rolling Stone Magazine that Toomaj is the “Tupac of Iran.”

The Iranian activist explained that by shedding light on legal cases like Toomaj’s and drawing attention to the regime’s brutality, she has often seen the authorities back down from executing prisoners, urging folks to join the campaign and use hashtags like #FreeToomaj or #ToomajSalehi.

The American rapper Meek Mill used his platforms to advocate for Salehi’s release, and human rights groups like Amnesty International have denounced The Islamic Republic of Iran’s crackdown on freedom of expression.

Iranian protesters in France are demanding the release of the rapper Toomaj Salehi. Credit. Patrick Batard/Hans Lucas, via Getty Images

The Power of the Microphone

Despite the Iranian government’s efforts to silence dissent and control speech, activists like Le Bon see Toomaj’s sentence as a sign they are losing grip of they’re absolute control. Like all repressive regimes,  fear of words and ideas symbolizes their own uncertainty of the future and their hold on power. It reveals an insecurity shown through thin skin but also proves the potency of artists like Toomaj’s music and message through the microphone. 

The power to rise from suppression is illustrated in Toomaj’s own words such as a quote from an Instagram post where he once said, “I think rap is the voice of the suffocated throats.”

Daring to express dissent through his music, he spotlights the power of Hip-Hop as a tool for social change and resistance. Salehi’s story embodies the transformative nature of an art form born out of a direct response to socioeconomic oppression in the Bronx during the 1970s. Since then, Hip-Hop has evolved into a global phenomenon, serving as a platform for marginalized communities to voice their struggles, aspirations and frustrations, resonating with people from all walks of life. It has become a universal language of nonviolent resistance, spitting bars to confront injustice and inequality.

Toomaj drew inspiration from rappers like Tupac Shakur. Much like Tupac, Salehi has used his music as a platform to address social and political issues. However, unlike his American counterparts who faced different sets of challenges, Salehi faced the added pressure of Iran’s regime, in a place where expressing dissent through music could lead to severe consequences, as we have seen. Despite these obstacles, his courage and determination to speak truth to power have carved his status as a fearless voice for his generation, echoing the legacy of artists like Tupac. 

In 2023, Toomaj received recognition for his activism through music. He earned the Heretic Award for protest/activist music from the Global Music Awards and the Freedom of Expression Award in Arts from the Index on Censorship. Freemuse, in partnership with the United Nations and UNESCO, featured Salehi prominently in its 2023 State of Artistic Freedom report, shedding light on violations of artistic rights worldwide.

Salehi’s defiance in the face of repression exemplifies the resilience of Hip-Hop, transcending censorship and repression to convey messages of hope and solidarity. Beyond its role as a form of protest, Hip-Hop has also served as a vehicle for empowerment and community-building, providing a voice for those who have been marginalized and silenced. From the streets of Tehran to the neighborhoods of New York City, Hip-Hop has always united people.

As we in the United States clash over our own lines and limits of freedom of speech, Toomaj Salehi faces an uncertain fate. His story serves as a sobering reminder of the sacrifices made by artists who dare to speak truth to power, lifting the voices of the suffocated throats.

Cultural Producers Recovery Fund



The Cultural Producers Recovery Fund will offer up to $12,000 to eligible cultural producers who have been financially impacted by the pandemic as they recuperate, adapt, and advance their practice.

The Cultural Producer Recovery Fund is an opportunity for Cultural Producers to recover from some of the significant financial impacts they have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cultural and creative sectors are economic and employment drivers. The Washington State creative economy contributed $53.2 billion to the economy in 2019, representing 185,741 cultural workers in Washington, contributing 5% to the Gross State Product each year. Maintaining the viability of the arts and heritage will not only ignite the local economy, but it will support mental health and a sense of community identity.

At the core of this sector are Cultural Producers who have been profoundly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, experiencing unemployment, the loss of freelance income, and unanticipated expenses. 4Culture believes that funding through this Cultural Producer support program will greatly benefit the economy and social strength of King County’s residents for years to come.

This is our second and final round of American Resource Plan Act (ARPA) grants for Cultural Producers. We’ve streamlined the criteria to make the application process easier. For this round, you do not need to provide personal tax return documents to demonstrate financial loss due to the pandemic.

Individual awards will vary depending on the amount of COVID-19 related cash assistance previously received and whether the applicant resides in a qualified Equity Investment area. The maximum award is $12,000.

For more information and to apply, visit

Zulu Jam at NW Folklife Festival

Saturday, May 25, 2024

206 Zulu presents Zulu Jam, Hip Hop dance workshops, performances and dance party, a part of Northwest Folklife Festival.

Dance Workshops with:
Orbitron (House/Hip Hop)
Ben Vo (Hip Hop Choreo)
Bboy Pele (Kids Breaking)
Performance by Beatbox Panda
Dance Party with DJs Jointz & D’Lemma

Seattle Center Exhibition Hall
5-7pm | All-Ages | Free

Northwest Folklife Home Page
Facebook Event Page
Artists at the Center Page

Black Arts Legacies Celebration Event


Black Arts Legacies Celebration Event
June 18, 2024
6:30 pm-9 pm
Washington Hall 153 14th Avenue Seattle, WA 98122
Map / Directions

Free; donations accepted

Join Cascade PBS for its third year of celebrating local Black artists featured in its Black Arts Legacies project. The evening will include performances by artists featured in the project, a portrait gallery of this year’s artists, video highlights from the series, food, dancing and more!

The events of the past two years were memorable and meaningful! Check out this video from 2022 and photos from last year.

Black Arts Legacies is an evolving digital archive showcasing the Black arts ecosystem, across time and genres and within the larger context of cultural movements in the region. It highlights the vital role Black artists have played and continue to play in the Northwest cultural landscape. For more information about the Black Arts Legacies project, visit

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. To be respectful of those with allergies and environmental sensitivities, we ask that you please refrain from wearing strong fragrances. To request an accommodation or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact

All event attendees are expected to abide by our Event Code of Conduct.

*Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and cash bar for beer and wine (21+). A current driver’s license will be requested by bartending staff for proof of ID.


Hip Hop Cine Fest 2024


Streaming: April 29 – May 19, 2024
Finals: May 10-11, 2024 aims to contribute to the conservation of Hip Hop Culture’s heritage and to generate a cultural trigger for all those who love this world by creating opportunities to make, share, inspire, experiment and exchange, eliminating national borders to allow international artistic exchanges.

The passion and dedication that distinguish the hip hop community are values that the festival aims to share with its participants, as well as the importance of free sharing of knowledge and the importance of dedication and effort to achieve one’s goals in the movie industry and in life in general.

Watch now on Filmocracy!

Upcoming Events