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Here is what happened at A3C this year

Mike Walbert
Posted by Mike Walbert on Oct 9

- The Recap - 

The morning after A3C Festival & Conference is always surreal.

We spend countless hours working on a 5-day experience with the purpose of building meaningful connections, providing young entrepreneurs with the information they need to succeed, and celebrating hip-hop culture, music and art. 

When it’s over it’s difficult to know what to do, how to feel or how to process what just happened. It can take weeks or months to fully absorb everything. 

This year, now that the event is over, and we’re able to begin reflecting on the past 5 days, we can tell you that our hearts are full. The outpouring of love and support over the past five days has been unbelievable.

There is no way to properly summarize A3C Festival & Conference because so many amazing things happened throughout the week: on stage, in studios, behind the scenes, and outside the lines. People made real connections. Knowledge was shared. Lives were forever changed.

A lot of people want to know “what happened?” 

So here is what happened at A3C this year.

Thousands of artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and industry veterans from around the world came to Atlanta to participate and enjoy the festivities.

200+ young artists and entrepreneurs were able to benefit from 1-on-1 mentorship sessions with accomplished industry experts. 

200+ artists and producers received direct feedback and advice on their music.

60+ producers played beats directly for over 200 artists leading to new collaborations and friendships.

The Creator Complex provided nearly 600 artists with over $100,000 worth of free digital assets. Artists and producers left the facility with a new headshot, bio, website and mastered album. Others received social media audit, optimized their YouTube page, got DJ scratches on their record, wrote new music and produced new beats.

Over 1,500 people attended the 2nd annual Action Summit for social justice where panels and workshops focused on topics ranging from: police brutality, brand activism, mental health, building a movement, youth entrepreneurship, health and wellness, civil rights, gun violence, women's role in activism and minority representation. Five non-profits from around the country were brought to Atlanta to attend a 3-day intensive boot camp by the Center for Civic Innovation. After an unbelievably moving pitch night at the Action Summit, our judges selected the FlexIn FlexOut program as this year’s Action Accelerator winner, and $15,000 was awarded to the finalists. FlexIn FlexOut produces workshops to get youth dancing inside detention and foster care facilities, coupled with programming to continue the mentorship once kids are back outside.

The entire Wu-Tang Clan came in town to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut album. Atlanta embraced Wu-Tang like no other city could. Members attended over a dozen events in two days and created wonderful memories that will never be forgotten and could never be duplicated.

Between Oct 3rd – 7th we had 534 artists, producers and DJs from across the world perform at 32 venues across Atlanta. We hosted 79 events including DJ battles, MC battles, Producer showcases, shows, dance parties, art exhibits, BBQs, movie screenings, mixers and more. The artists invested their time and resources to give attendees an amazing experience and reminded us that hip-hop is vibrant, diverse and innovative.

What happened during Lil Wayne’s performance (performance 534 of 534 throughout the week) should not and cannot define the truly special week that took place in Atlanta. It’s not fair to Atlanta, hip-hop culture, or everyone involved.

It wouldn’t be fair to the 339 speakers that shared their knowledge and expertise with the next generation of leaders.

It wouldn’t be fair to the 534 artists that performed their hearts out on stage and showed the world that hip-hop culture is diverse, vibrant and supportive.

It wouldn’t be fair to the 56 event curators who produced, planned and poured their soul into the events.

If wouldn’t be fair to the 64 partners who help us develop and create a valuable and memorable experience.

It wouldn’t be fair to the 200+ volunteers that offer their time to help make everything possible.

It wouldn’t be fair to the thousands of people who experienced A3C and have shown our team and the community so much love.

And it wouldn’t be fair to the A3C team that works tirelessly for countless hours to produce a fabulous event for hip-hop culture.

With all of that being said, because media likes to sensationalize and categorize hip-hop culture, we imagine a story about a fight at a Lil Wayne concert in downtown Atlanta will draw regional and national attention. It’s easy to write about. You can cut and paste a headline and video from a cellphone. It also fits a larger narrative that national media portrays day in and day out about hip-hop culture. It’s sad. But it’s not the story that came out of A3C this past week.


- The Incident -

A week before A3C was set to kick off, Lil Wayne dropped Tha Carter V and we were honored to host his first live performance after the album dropped. We understood the significance of the moment. It was to be a special night for hip-hop, Atlanta, our team, Lil Wayne and everyone in attendance.  

Unfortunately, less than 10 minutes into Lil Wayne’s set two individuals started to fight each other. We have spent the hours between the incident and now assessing the situation, collecting information and ensuring we respond with an accurate account as to what happened to the best of our ability. Several people in the crowd attempted to break up the fight, including a Georgia state trooper who was on-duty providing security. In trying to break up the fight, we understand that the trooper withdrew his Taser, which reportedly omitted a red light. The Taser was not used, but upon seeing the Taser, several members of the crowd yelled “gun,” which caused a panic in the crowd and people started rushing away. Unable to tell exactly what was going on, many people assumed the worst and there became a rapid dash to clear the grounds.

We continue to check on the safety and well-being of our community, friends and family. We have always made safety a top priority, and are thankful that there are no reports of serious injuries. 

We’ll continue to work through the emotional and practical aftermath of last night’s unfortunate events, but are determined not to let this incident define the truly amazing week of events.  

Thank you to everyone who has called, texted, emailed and shown our team love and support. We hear you, we feel your love and we love you back!


- Final Thoughts - 

Lastly, we have grown an important event organically over the past 14 years because of the passion and energy of many people. We’ve been able to create something special that gets better every year, and this was our best year yet, despite how it ended.

It truly takes a village to do this. We’ve built a platform in Atlanta for hip-hop culture, but what happens here is the result of 12 months of working with event curators, speakers, partners, media, creatives and artists to produce an event and experience that we hope changes lives.

- Mike Walbert (Director)

Mike Walbert

Written by Mike Walbert

Mike Walbert is the Executive Director of the A3C Festival & Conference. As as partner in the business Mike oversees various aspects of the business, including: Business Development, Sponsorship, Branding and Marketing. Mike officially joined A3C in 2009 as the Artist Director. Since 2010 Mike has managed the strategy and team that have grown A3C from a regional showcase to an internationally recognized institution in hip-hop culture.

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