Welcome to Columbia, South Carolina! We are the “Famously Hot” Palmetto State where sweet tea is served with breakfast, where that southern drawl just pulls you in and where tailgating at Williams Brice Stadium for USC Gamecocks football is a time-honored tradition. This is life in the capital city of South Carolina. So how did we become the birthplace of the larger than life Love, Peace and Hip-Hop Family Day Festival?
I had the pleasure of interviewing FatRat Da Czar, also known as South Carolina’s godfather of hip-hop. He is also the genius behind the annual Love, Peace and Hip-Hop festival and we had a chance to talk about it all from his music career and influences to the inspiration behind the free (That’s right, free!) festival that he decided to bring to Columbia, SC.
Before we got into the festival, I wanted to know a little bit more about the man behind it. FatRat, who has had a very impressive career as a hip-hop artist, credits other artists such as The Fat Boys and EPMD as some of his earlier influences and says that moving in the 90’s he was drawn to artists like Tupac, Scarface, and Jay-Z. He says that he has also been impressed with Nipsey Hussle over the past five or six years.
I wanted to know how FatRat made the transition from being the artist to being the man behind the music so I asked what ways he has had to reinvent himself in order to make such a transition successful. “I think that one of the things that keeps an artist relevant is reinventing yourself”, he says, “And I think what has helped keep me relevant and reinvent myself is collaboration. Collaboration has allowed me to welcome new artists with open arms.”
“What mark do you want to leave on the hip-hop world?”, I asked.
“As far as my contribution to the hip-hop world, I’m just happy to be adding to the culture. I tell people all the time: hip-hop is similar to the collection plate at church. All we can really do is contribute. Doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, I’m just glad the plate was passed my way to drop my piece in it.”, he says.
So, what I wanted to know is what inspired the Love, Peace and Hip-Hop movement and what made Columbia, South Carolina the perfect place for it?
“What was your goal with the Love, Peace and Hip-Hop festival?” I asked Fat.
“We started Love, Peace & Hip-Hop to showcase and celebrate the elements that created and sustains the culture of hip-hop so near and dear to our hearts. We wanted to share the idea that the godfathers of hip-hop kicked it all off with: peace, love, unity, and having fun. We’re just executing what was already laid down and making an example of how this culture moves”, he says as he explains the inspiration behind the festival.
As for what makes Famously Hot Columbia the right place for it, he says,
“The additional piece was that we wanted to serve the city of Columbia and the state of South Carolina as a whole with a festival unlike any other. We wanted to bring something that nobody saw coming. And that’s what happened. There are several rock festivals in Columbia, and we wanted to deliver something different. There was nothing for the lovers of hip-hop to come celebrate in the middle of the street like the other festivals. They’re all great music festivals and I enjoy them all, but I wanted to make sure that people like myself—not in just color but in background and love for the culture—had a chance to celebrate. Because one thing about hip-hop is that it’s definitely not exclusive—it’s inclusive. And anybody from any walk of life can be a part of it.”
The Love, Peace and Hip-Hop festival is a free, three day, family-friendly event that celebrates the hip-hop culture, pays homage to its pioneers and features some of the most legendary names in the industry having had headliners like Kool Moe Dee (2013 Headliner), KRS One (2016 Headliner and MC Lyte (2018 Headliner), just to name a few. The festival takes place in downtown Columbia, SC and normally takes place during the month of April.
Images by Love, Peace, & Hip-Hop Festival