Sensory Overload: 2x2 Hip-Hop Festival

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Following Correy Parks' early afternoon set at 2x2 Hip-Hop Festival, the rapper took to Twitter, writing, "#2x2fest was so dope today. Lowkey almost legit had a heatstroke though lol."

The heat wasn't the only dizzying element of the fest, which took over campus-area Rice Paddy Motorcycles on a recent Saturday. During Parks' time onstage, the MC uncorked dense, head-spinning verses packed with pop culture references ("Adventure Time," "A Nightmare on Elm Street"), allusions to classic cuts ("The Glow" borrowed the title line from Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come") and biographical snippets that pointed to a darkened past ("Rollin") and a brighter, more promising future ("Vibe").

Now in its second year, 2x2 expanded to take over the street on a blockaded stretch of North Grant Avenue, an area that included a trio of food trucks, a kids' play zone and a cypher tent manned by a pair of Js when the day kicked off: DJ and producer J. Rawls and rapper Jai Carey. On the exterior of the building, a cadre of graffiti artists flashed their skills, including one gentleman who produced an elaborate portrait of Cleveland Cavalier King James, complete with freshly earned crown.

Inside the grounds, three stages were erected, including the Roofless Stage, an imposing brick structure whose caved-in ceiling blessed it with its name.

During an early turn from duo T&J, the pair nodded to the unique environs, spitting, "The whole city is behind us" and gesturing at the Downtown skyline off in the distance, as init's literally behind us.

Elsewhere, OldBoyNick breezed through jazzy tracks informed by his faith ("I go to church," he professed on one cut) and the evils encountered in day-to-day life. "I done seen the devil in the face of addicts trying to get level," he rhymed. Joey Aich adopted a more workmanlike mindset focused on the here-and-now rather than the hereafter, approaching his appearance like a business meeting as he dropped lines like, "My résumé is my SoundCloud."

Dayton rapper Tino espoused a comparatively playful philosophy in a short, video game-obsessed turn that included mentions of nearly every console (Genesis, Atari and Nintendo included) and even a lyrical shout-out to the classic Nintendo NES "Contra" code (you know the one). Senseless, meanwhile, displayed improved breath control and a still-vivid imagination (he rhymed "drama" with "Oxford comma" and weaved in subterranean lines about lava flowing through volcanoes) in a set sadly abbreviated by tech troubles. He also hit on a recurring theme when he hollered, "The temperature's the next to rise" as the mercury continued to climb.