7evensofuego will debut the hip-hop festival Fuego Fest on Sunday at Planet Hip-Hop.

Hip-hop artist 7evensofuego has a promise to keep and a score to settle.

Two years ago, the Kansas City rapper, a St. Joseph native, said he wanted to elevate the local scene. This Sunday, Dec. 1, he’ll follow through with that with Fuego Fest.

Being held from 1 to 7 p.m. at Planet Hip Hop, 2605 St. Joseph Ave., the all-ages festival will feature more than 15 hip-hop artists from the area.

“A lot of people don’t know about the local scene ... My goal is to build up the city,” the artist, whose real name is Kenneth Strader, said.

For years, Strader said he tried to get events like Trails West! to bring on some hip-hop acts to no avail.

“I tried talking to them, but it never happened,” Strader said.

It gave Strader the idea to start his own festival, one where artists could network, show off their talents and connect in a way that he felt he couldn’t when he first broke out in the local scene.

“At my age, it felt like I was the only person (rapping) and everyone else was way above me,” he said.

Bringing in rappers like Blade, Youngkaree, EGORE, Phatboy Rich, MC Tres and Domineko, Strader wants the festival to be a diverse slate of talent from people of all ages and backgrounds. He also wants it to be a place where young artists can get a shot like they would in other, more hip-hop-centric areas.

“It’s really a Midwest thing, because everyone caps off at certain place. Nobody gets that star spotlight like the West Coast or East Coast or south side. That’s why we’re considered a flyover area,” Strader said.

While the festival is defined as hip-hop, it likely will feature a variety of influences and flavors, similar to 7evensofuego’s diverse sonic palette.

“When I came out, it was before the new Autotune wave, so everyone called me weird and stuff like that. As soon as everyone started liking that music, it felt like my music is slowly starting to become more acceptable,” Strader said.

With plans of making Fuego Fest an annual event, Strader said he hopes people will check everyone out with an open mind. Most of all, he wants people to have a good time.

“I just hope people have fun. My biggest thing is that they have a good time,” he said.

— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live

Andrew Gaug can be reached at andrew.gaug@newspressnow.com.

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