A weekend of hip-hop workshops and performances honors the life of John "Vietnam" Nguyen. Info
The annual JVN Day festival celebrates the life, legacy, and multidisciplinary hip-hop artistry of John "Vietnam" Nguyen, a Chicago native who came to Madison to study in UW-Madison's innovative First Wave program. Nguyen died tragically in 2012 when he accidentally drowned in Lake Mendota. Since then, his fellow poets, rappers, and dancers in First Wave have marked the approximate anniversary of his death with a festival that highlights the array of artistic practices and opportunities for political empowerment that hip-hop has nurtured.
This year's JVN Day kicks off with a morning open-mic on the shore of Lake Mendota (Friday, 9:30 to 11 a.m., Wisconsin Alumni Association building). Friday also features a sort of open-studio project called The Screwtape (11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the JVN Project's offices at 333 East Campus Mall), where MCs of all skill levels can drop by and record their bars over a selection of pre-made beats, and a screening (6 p.m., Union South Marquee) of a new Wisconsin Public Television documentary about the First Wave program, made with production contributions from First Wave alum Johnny Chang. Saturday is an all-day series of workshops at the Student Activity Center off East Campus Mall, with sessions on songwriting, DJing, dancing, graffiti, and fashion design. Sunday brings an afternoon of breakdancing battles, graffiti, and socializing (noon to 5 p.m., Sellery Hall basketball courts), and culminates with a concert on the Terrace (7:30 to 9:30 p.m.) headlined by Rhymesayers rapper Sa-Roc, and featuring a host of First Wave-associated artists, including Synovia Alexis, DJ knowsthetime, and KennyHoopla. —Scott Gordon