With legendary Atlanta duo Outkast dominating the music-festival circuit this year, a scene that had once been the province of indie rock and jam bands has gained an appreciation for rap and hip hop. South by Southwest has hosted panels on the genre, and Atlanta's A3C festival has become the definitive beat symposium.
All this left some Pittsburgh hip-hop artists wondering why there was such a shortage of similar opportunities in their area. In early August, the Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Collective hosted Talib Kweli as part of its Cultured Steel festival. And now local manager Kurt Sculac will take his shot with the Steel the City Festival — STC Fest for short — which Sculac founded with partner Cullen DeSantis.
Largely owing to the success of Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa, Sculac notes, "There was a brief period of time where every magazine, website [and] hip-hop media outlet had something to do with a Pittsburgh hip-hop artist on its front pages.
"Why not host a showcase of our own? In time, it can be built into a larger-scale platform for premier artists to showcase their talents, much like A3C and SXSW."
Huey Mack may be from Morgantown, but he's a great choice to headline the inaugural STC Festival. His debut, Pretending Perfection, which dropped last year, features a lighthearted production style, and he's got a cool, boy-next-door voice, like G-Eazy with a softer edge.
Wilkinsburg rapper Hardo will also appear, fresh from his release from a correctional facility and with his subsequent single, "Stressing," which samples KDKA news reports on his arrest on drug charges. Hardo, whose trap style is beat-centric with slow-moving rhymes, has strong ties to Atlanta's rap scene and local artist Devin Miles.
Sculac hopes the event will "become an incomparable platform to not only showcase your brand, but also [to] network and build relationships between the organizations, brands and artists." It's also about building the Pittsburgh brand. By integrating national acts with local performers on the rise, the annual event could also restore a sense of unity to the scene that's been lacking lately.