The 2023 Hyde Park Summer Fest celebrated Black culture with joy, peace and harmony. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop were Twista, Crucial Conflict, Do or Die, Shawnna and Vic Mensa.
Chicago’s own Grammy-nominated DJ Terry Hunter told the crowd, “Listen, house music started here. Right here, with Black and Brown kids on the South Side of Chicago. House music is alive and vibrant.” The weekend’s host, Dave Jeff, presented the long awaited reunion of brothers Pusha T and Malice performing as Clipse, hailing the duo’s dedication to narrating the impact of the war on drugs on city neighborhoods.
Mayor Brandon Johnson himself presented Tobe Nwigwe as “a man on a mission from God” who began his set with “FYE FYE”, a song that celebrates unconditional love and overcoming economic hardships. Tobe Nwigwe also brought his entire family with him on stage, something he references in that song: “If you book me for a show and I can’t bring my wife and my babies, I’m leavin.”
Uncle Waffles, Oxlade and Libianca’s presence bridged the diaspora while Alex Isley’s voice summoned the Isley Brothers’ iconic sound. Jay Illa spoke about witnessing the growth of the fest over the years. “I remember we were in a bank parking lot off of 55th Street. To see it grow has been amazing.” He actually played “Nevermind” by Nirvana, and the crowd sang along, breaking through the notion that Black people don’t listen to rock music.
Lil’ Kim closed out the fest, beginning with Twista spitting his hypnotic verse from “Thug Luv”. Lil’ Cease from Junior Mafia also accompanied her, paying homage to Biggie throughout her entire set. The tone reminded everyone once again of the importance of celebrating Blackness and the range of its musical gifts on the South Side of Chicago.
Mateo Zapata is a South Side-raised creative of Colombian/Chilean descent working at the intersection of photojournalism, film, art production and hip-hop. He photographed this year’s Sueños Festival for the Weekly.