Already juggling an iPhone and a Blackberry, the female in all black receives a radio message over her headset and quickly leaves Hell. The world around her slowly shifts as her black sandals, masking teal-colored toenails, step into the light and hit the uneven bricked pathway. Eyes dart in her direction. Conversations freeze in mid-sentence. Necks crane as she walks by. She hurries to the front, smiles warmly, and embraces the gentlemen who had been waiting for her.
“Have you checked in?” she asks. There seems to be a bit of confusion amongst the men. She sees their frustration and politely interjects, “The artists table is right over there. You just want to check in with them and they’ll give you a pass. I’ll see you inside, okay?” As she leaves, on-lookers eye her every step. "Yo, man, that's Fadia," someone whispers.
The 2010 A3C Hip Hop Festival is the place to be if you are doing anything in hip-hop, aspiring to do anything in hip-hop, or just want to be seen among the latter two. Homemade CDs, fliers, and business cards are handed out like last year’s Halloween candy. It’s hard to decipher by the wrappers which will give your ears a sour taste, and reassurances like, “I was the underdog, but see, now we’re setting the streets on fire; you need to give it a listen,” hardly help.
It's the first day of the festival and the grounds of the Masquerade are filled with a rainbow of different sneakers ranging from beat up, classic black and white Chucks to futuristic eggplant Nike Foamposites. Posted all around the grounds are tents with artist merchandise, a wall dedicated to personal graffiti, even the Marines have set up camp to search for new recruits. If you are not about self-promotion, this is the wrong place to be.
There is a buzz surrounding the artists performing on this year's Perfect Attendance stage. It's not simply due to the amount of talent, but also the ringleader assembling them. Fadia's intuition was spot-on with last year's roster, which included sets from Yelawolf, Donnis, Curren$y and Pill, who've all become some of this year's most sought-after MCs. The audience knows that Fadia can deliver, and many have come to see if she can do it two years in a row.
Fadia moves quickly. One second, she’s in the press room talking to the A3C staff about having enough radios for her assistants. (All of their names coincidentally end with the same syllable as hers: Shawna, Brianna, Tamarah, Amirah.) The next second, she’s setting up a table near her Perfect Attendance stage, where Shawna is manning Fadia's personal Twitter feed to hype the event, while simultaneously promoting via other Twitter accounts (@BROKEandBOUJEE, @SHAWNA_PEEZY). Seconds later, she’s verifying with Brianna that the next performers are checked in. Quicker than you can tweet #PerfectAttendance, she’s back outside telling anyone with a loudspeaker to announce that her show, located on the Masquerade's Hell stage, is up and ready.
Throughout the night anyone who knows her — or wants to get to know her — grabs her arm when she passes by, hoping to steal of few seconds of her attention. Their intrigue is best explained by her only male assistant, Kelton, who interned for Fadia and flew in to help with Perfect Attendance on the last day. “She’s it," he says. "Everything musical seems to have her name attached to it somehow.” Whether it's through her monthly black hipster soirees, Broke and Boujee, or one of the many parties or shows she promotes, Fadia has her hands on many aspects of the Atlanta hip-hop scene.
When asked about the amount of attention and mystery that surrounds her, Fadia seems taken aback. Even though she's managed to create an unimaginable platform for aspiring artists, she downplays it.
Her Twitter icon rarely has a picture of her face. Many of her tweets promote the people she works with or her artists (Brittany Bosco and Hollyweerd).“Because I manage artists, I feel like it should be about my artists. I’m not like trying to be a pseudo-celebrity manager. But I wear many hats at the same time so I understand that there’s intrigue,” she says. “I have a past. I have a career. They’re working on there’s. My history is there; there’s isn’t. So I don’t want their history to be affected by mine.”
Time is crucial. With most sets lasting only 10 minutes, there is no time for tardiness — excused or unexcused. Everything needs to get done in a timely fashion. The backstage is getting packed as artists swarm in to get ready for their performance time. Things are running so smoothly that Fadia hasn't had to snap once. She sits calmly drinking bottled water and snacking on strawberry fruit roll-ups.
She doesn’t take all the credit for her well-oiled machine. “The most important thing is learning how to put a team together,” she says, referring to her crew of 20-somethings, most of whom initially contacted Fadia through Twitter. What set this team apart is the fact that most intern or assistants only lasts a couple of weeks because they tend to see the elaborate final product but don’t understand the amount time and paperwork it takes to fill a stage with 75-plus artists over a span of three days.
There are few hiccups throughout the three-day event — like the lost, but soon to be found host, Hustle Simmons; a couple of artists going over their allotted time; and one pants-sagging MC who unwittingly showcases his ass crack along with his rhymes.
But in a world filled with devilish promoters, Fadia seems to rise above the fray. If hell below is run anything like the Perfect Attendance stage at A3C, it must be divine.
This does not take about The Chirch at all.
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