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Hip-hop culture on display at fourth annual ComplexCon

LONG BEACH — Hip-hop’s hottest stars came fully prepared to ComplexCon to answer questions, take photos and perform for hip-hop heads who traveled from as far away as Japan and Africa. 

The two-day convention provided a glimpse into the hip-hop world and how its leaders change and shape culture, music, fashion, politics, wealth and faith. 

Anderson.Paak, Lil’Kim, 21 Savage, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Kid Cudi graced the Pigeons and Planes Stage Nov. 2 and 3 at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center to perform their chart-topping hits, while other artists used their voices at the Complex Conversations.

Actress Storm Reid said, “My grandmother was an activist who was arrested. She taught me to not just stand up for myself, but for the people around me. It’s not OK to be treated badly because you’re different.

“My faith is a big part of who I am. I understand God has given me a voice, and I can’t take this opportunity for granted and misuse my voice to make a global change for our communities.” 

Def Jam Recordings celebrated the evolution of hip-hop culture from the 1980s through the present, paying respect to hip-hop pioneers such as LL Cool J, who surprised guests.

Upstairs in the grand ballroom, All Hail The Queens: The Women Changing The Face Of Rap held a Complex Conversation among Eve, Trina, Rico Nasty and Kamaiyah, all female rappers who spoke about battling and making their mark in a male-dominated field. 

Hypebeasts shopped designer limited edition streetwear from Nike and Billionaire Boys Club.

Sneakerhead and wholesaler, Gwalla H. from the Bronx said, “I came here for the Murakami art, sneakers and to network.

Jordan sneakers and art lovers leaned in closer to the unique hip-hop art. Popular pieces included The Art of 23. The luxurious fine crafted shoes made of gold were a huge hit. Deion Sanders, Marshawn Lynch, Allen Iverson, Matt Barnes and Gilbert Arenas represented the sports industry at the convention. 

Chase Whitlow, a fashion entrepreneur from Atlanta, said “I’ve been to every ComplexCon. Everything here is limited. It’s my love of streetwear that keeps me going. I get my clothes. 

Other notable events included the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the beloved Japanese arcade game PacMan and the Complex Conversations on How To Make A Modern Day Rap Hit and Afro Pop. 

And the First We Feast Lagoon provided an outdoors area for festival goers to eat and relax between sets and shopping. 

Host committee members Pharrell Williams and Takashi Murakami greeted attendees and proudly walked the ComplexCon floor as they watch their dream of a hip-hop heaven unfold for a fourth year.

By Kristina Dixon

Contributing Writer