Don’t Sleep, MANIFESTO is comin.

Bilal‘s ‘1st Born Second‘ is on iTunes repeat… so is Jean Grae, and Rich Kidd‘s ‘We On Some Rich Kidd Shiiiiit’ Volume 4.  My agenda is highlighted five times over, BRIGHT yellow, from Sept 20th straight through to September 26th. To all those hollering for chillages, meetings, this, that and what not… You shall get the repeated and automated response of, “NOPE. CAN’T… It’s MANIFESTO.”

[Joe and Liz at Manifesto’s 2nd Annual Art Exhibition]

Three years ago, I was driving back from Niagara Falls from a day excursion with my dear friend Joe, and had heard about an art exhibition taking place at some venue on Queen and Bathurst. Only having been in Toronto for about 7 months, I had been itching to discover more of the music, arts and culture scene of this new and untapped city. I remember walking in and seeing all these… cooooool looking people. From style, to swagger, to presence, I wondered to myself who all these individuals were, what did they do, what was it about them that was exuding such an unreal energy. I wanted to know them, I wanted to be a part of it.

[Peru (MTL artist), a young Char Loro, and Gracia (Peru’s wife)]

At the art show I got to learn a little bit about Manifesto — a festival only 2 years old at the time, and on the rise with a vision bigger than they even knew was possible. I learned that Manifesto dedicated itself to bringing together the music, arts and culture collective of Toronto in order to exchange dialogue, create relationships, and build a supportive and inclusive community. I’ve never heard of anything like that back home in Vancouver — not to this capacity nor intensity.

The following year I knew that I wanted to be involved in some way — I signed up as a volunteer and was EVERYWHERE. From handing out flyers at the CNE, helping out at the Film Fest, the Canada Pro B-Boy competition, running around Nathan Phillips Square with a freshly shaved side head (yes, that is where I first did it, folks!) promoting the Barber Shop… I had one of the sickest weekends I’ve ever had in Toronto.

… And it didn’t end there. I met too many people to count. Three significant individuals who have inspired me and opened me up to new opportunities this past year are Jesse Ohtake, Giles Monette, and Mark Valino. Despite my refusal to hand out another flyer ever again in my life (I can’t handle rejection), Jesse saw my marketing, promotions and video skills and took it upon himself to invite me to the Main Ingredient Family to film their monthly party. Giles and Mark, heading up Manifesto TV, invited me to be involved with filming concerts and shows happening throughout the year. I mean, yoooooo guy, I’ve got Mayer Hawthorne, Tanika Charles, and Nneka on my resume! WHAAAAT... And only more to come…

Manifesto to me is not just a festival — it’s a community. It’s become MY community. I need them and they need me, that’s what a family is, isn’t it? It’s amazing to feel part of something so… revolutionary in thinking, progressive in action, and supportive in the raw talents and future aspirations of the artists in this city. I have never come across anything like this. Everyone I have met through this community, inspires me in ways they’ll never know.

We are building a platform. This is not just for us. This is not so that we can claim to be better than you. This is for you, all of you, if you choose to be part of it. Be hungry for growth, be passionate for change, and let’s build something sustainable for the future generations of our music, arts and culture community in Toronto. So long as Manifesto stays true to their mantra, we will never go wrong. It’s a selfless kind of love, this community, and so long as I am a part of it, I am committing myself to withholding those values.

DAY 1 of the festival commences on Monday, and goes straight through to DAY 7, Sunday. Governor General leading a discussion, BILAL concert, FILM FEST, Massive ART SHOW, T.O. Meet NY concert with Jean Grae headliner, So Much Things to Say Speakers conference, Canada Pro Bboy and Hip Hop Dance Competition, and the MAIN DAY alllll day festival at Dundas Square with headliners Jay Electronica, Black Thought, J.Period …. oh and of course, a stupid ass after party at the Hard Rock Cafe with everrrryyyonnnneeee.

How you gunna sleep on this? BE PART OF IT. Check out everything that’s goin’ down in four days HERE:

MANIFESTO Festival 2010 Teaser from on Vimeo.

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