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BY | September 18, 2022


LYNN — Nearly two dozen different hip hop acts took the stage before a supportive and energetic crowd Sunday at the Keep Moving Forward Festival in Frederick Douglass Park.


On a tour of the Lynn Museum’s new hip hop exhibit, which features photographs, clothing from Lynn Hip Hop artists, as well as a miniature recording studio to inspire young rappers. Lynn Hip Hop Organization Chairman Edwin Cabrera said that he dedicated his career to giving Lynn hip hop artists the attention and recognition they lack.


“I’ve always loved hip hop music, but I’ve always really gravitated towards local hip hop music, and when I was homesick, I wanted a connection to back home. I decided to get to know the local artists … and that eventually led to me realizing there’s a lot of things that we could do as a community to really start supporting each other,” Cabrera said. “Places like Atlanta, [and] places like New York, when an artist comes out of there, it’s like, ‘oh, cool.’ When an artist comes out here, no one cares until they blow up somewhere else. We’re trying to hold back on that, focus first on the community and get the community to support the artists before they go on and move to LA or New York.”


Ward 6 Councilor Fred Hogan, who used to perform as a DJ, said that he discussed with Cabrera the ways in which politics can act as a hurdle in organizing hip-hop events in Lynn.


“It’s about the start of hip hop, back in the 80s, 90s, moving up to the forefront today, we’re just bringing it to another level. We also discussed hip hop and politics, and everyone had their opinion on how hip hop and politics come together. How can you get things done in the city of Lynn when politics sometimes come in the way? I brought up hip hop in City Hall. That’s who I am, I’m a DJ from the 80s 90s 2000s, and I use my platform to bring the community together,” Hogan said.


Hogan’s vision for the community building through hip hop music seemed to have come to life when local hip hop artist Felicity Estelle, 18, got on stage as an opening act. Estelle announced that she was going to perform the first song she’d ever written. When the beat kicked in, Estelle froze and turned her back on the crowd, asking for a sip of water.


Listeners seated on the lawn cheered her on until Estelle turned around and sang with a sense of power and energy that brought the previously-seated crowd to their feet by her third song.


On the right side of the stage, organizers gave out free backpacks and school supplies to local kids. While Lynn hip hop group EastSide Most Hated took the stage, children danced to the music, showing off their new backpacks.


“Right now, this looks really good, we got a lot of people out here. Even with everything that happened with the Shoe City classic getting shut down, this is gonna be a way to put the city all together in a positive way,” said Melly Kash of EastSide Most Hated.


As festival goers lined up at the Bent Water Brewing Company stand in the yard behind the Lynn Museum, the event’s organizer, owner of the record label Keep Moving Forward Music Entertainment, Jay Moon said that the festival served as a way to bring the city together around a growing local music culture.


“Lynn hip hop is something that’s been growing for a while now, for a few decades. It needed to be celebrated, and the best way to do it was to bring a lot of the people who have made an impact and a lot of the newcomers who are coming now, bring them together for a big show. The biggest impact we can have is putting together a big show in the heart of the city. So I did everything I could to make that happen,” he said.


School Committee member Lennin Pena said that he attended the festival in celebration of his 51st birthday. Ward 3 Councilor Coco Alinsug also walked around the park, shaking hands and taking selfies with festival goers.


Halfway through the festival, when Mayor Jared Nicholson was invited on stage, he said that the festival’s organizers, sponsors, and artists made perfect use of the park.


“This is so exciting to see the kind of turnout that you guys have put together today. It is exactly the kind of use of public community space that we hoped for. We have a beautiful park here, the grass, the bricks, the stage that you will have made come alive in a way that a lot of people would never have imagined. We’re so grateful for this opportunity to see the amazing talent that the Lynn hip hop community has. I’m so grateful to all of the artists and performers for sharing that talent with us today,” Nicholson said.


Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at

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