Manifesto totes itself as one of the largest Canadian celebrations of hip-hop and urban arts. And indeed it is. Not just concerts, but a variety of celebrations from art shows to DJ battles take place over a five-day run. “Manifesto is about diversity,” says Executive Director Dwayne Dixon. “It’s about a melting pot of cultures, it’s about expression and Toronto is that. We created this new voice based off our heritage and new school way of things.”

In this five-part photo essay we captured some of the most stand out moments of this year’s Manifesto. Art is power – no doubt.

Part 1 // Opening Reception & Transcension Art Show // Photos By. Christina Inniss

Curated by Ashley McKenzie Barnes, the art exhibit that served as the backdrop for the VIP opening night reception of this year’s Manifesto proved to be nothing short of beautiful. By bringing together a group of visual artists that “transcend mediums” Barnes was able to achieve the type of diversity in art that embodies what Manifesto stands for.

Part 2 // Redbull Sound Select ft. Isaiah Rashad // Photos By. Christina Inniss

A perfect line up to kick off the Manifesto festivities: Top Dawg Entertainment’s Isaiah Rashad and Toronto’s Tre Mission, Tasha the Amazon and DillanPonders. All of the artists held their own and left an impression – whether it was Isaiah walking through the crowd while performing or Tasha crowd surfing, it was a show not likely to soon be forgotten.

Part 3 // Rumble in Regent // Photos By. Fitzroy Facey

Manifesto’s DJ sound clash almost sent Toronto’s Daniel Spectrum up in smoke – literally. In the middle of an intense round between DJ Bambi (a crowd favourite) and Skratch Bastid (the night’s winner), the sound system started smoking and the smell of burning rubber filled the air. But not even a little smoke would allow the music fans to turn down. With tunes like Run DMC’s “It’s Tricky” and Michael Jackson’s “Bad” blaring throughout the night, not only was the music on point, but it lent itself perfectly to the many dance cyphers that damn near stole the shine from the main event.

Part 4 // Live at the Square // Photos By. Christina Inniss

For eleven straight hours, from noon to 11 p.m., urban music filled Toronto’s core at Yonge and Dundas Square. As anticipation built for the day’s headlining acts – Bishop Nehru, Raury and Ryan Leslie – several local artists fed the audience with solid, memorable performances. Whether it was singer NEFE during the Honey Jam alumni set, with her laidback persona, clean vocals and acoustic guitar, Lola Bunz with her rendition of “Versace” or poet Randell Adjei with his rhymes about controversial issues like absentee fathers or the trend of sagging pants, there were gems that kept the stage lit up all day long.

Part 5 // The Freshest Goods Market // Photos By. Christina Inniss

Oxtail and butter chicken over tater-tots. It’s not the typical dish that’s found at the core of downtown Toronto. But as Manifesto’s eighth annual festival took over the Yonge and Dundas Square, the Freshest Goods Market boasted these types of tasty dishes and much more. Dozens of local brands – clothing, jewellery, food, etc. – set up vendor tables to entice passers-by, tourists and hip-hop heads alike with the freshest of goods.

Words By. Rebecca Akrasi-Sarpong