The inspiration for Pink Elephant Hip Hop Festival can be traced back to a time when LGBTQ artists were only known to a few key markets. Online platfroms like Phat Family, GayHipHop.com and the Peace Out Festival organized by Juda Kalamka existed, but they remained largely invisible to the mainstream.
In 2006, a groundbreaking and award-winning documentary by Alex Hinton, called Pick Up The Mic courageously brought visibility to numerous hip hop artists who are part of the LGBTQ community. This visibility was game changing but unfortunately short lived as a decade later the Peace Out festivals faded leaving hundreds of hip hop artists who now openly identify as LGBTQ without a major platform to be heard. Artists in around Austin and Houston, TX were able to perform at the Victory Grill as part of Tim’m West’s “Front Porch” events, sponsored by Allgo, in 2010 and 2011 but opportunities were limited.
Recently artists like Frank Ocean, Big Freeda, Cazwell, Jussie Smollett and Hip and Hip Hop’s Miles and Milan have brought the conversation about LGBTQ artists in hip hop back into the mainstream. So much so that in October of 2015, VH1 tackled the issue in a nationally televised discussion “Out in Hip-Hop” featuring the likes of Buttahman, Pioneer DMC and former BET/MTV Executive, and Ray J, R&B singer and Reality TV star, all weighing in and giving their thoughts on LGBTQ rappers in the industry. Seeing the opportunity in front of them Japan of The QURE, Austin native and award-winning gay rapper, partnered with Tim’m West, queer Hip-Hop pioneer, to created the Pink Elephant Hip Hop Festival to, “provide a space for the artists to mobilize and network while making history as the World’s Largest Annual LGBT Hip-Hop Music Festival.” Seeing the success of the 2016 festival, the goal is to keep expanding the Pink Elephant brand, produce a documentary, and create an annual Pink Elephant Music Award Ceremony.