OAKLAND, Calif. - More than a thousand people turned out for a musical block party in downtown Oakland Friday featuring some big names in hip hop. All performers were raised in Oakland, and all wanting to give back.
Among them top selling recording artist Kamaiyah who grew up on High Street in Oakland..
"This is the community that uplifted me and put me in the position I am in. So I think it is important to come back and give them love. They gave me love on a consistent basis," she said.
The party was called Sway Fest 2019, named after Sway Calloway, the well known former MTV host who now has his own morning radio show on Sirius XM. Sirius XM and Pandora were also co-sponsors.
Calloway simulcast the festival on his radio show. He has a lot more on his mind about his home town than just music.
"Oakland has always had its challenges, whether it is education, employment, gentrification. All these things I see when I come back--homelessness. I just wanted to do something to raise the morale," said Calloway.
Some people who came called Sway an inspiration. If he can succeed, maybe they can too.
"To make it from Oakland, California and do what he's doing in the media world, the entertainment business . He's been on MTV. That's big to me. That's big to Oakland," said Jay Rich of Oakland.
"I've been through everything they've been through. Drugs, violence, lack of resources. Let the youth know anything and everythng is possible," Calloway said.
"It gives everyone the feeling of encouragement to see someone rise from the city, Oakland born, Oakland bred with the platform he has and share it with the rest of the city is amazing," said rap artist Mistah F.A.B.
Many said the music brought them here but they took away much more.
"It shows we can all come together. There's no drama. No problems. We should have more of these events so everyone can see we are not a problem city," said Nakeisha Goodwin.
Calloway and the other organizers are hoping to turn this into a yearly event.