Hip Hop Kemp, the largest music festival of the genre in Central and Eastern Europe officially kicks off on Thursday night at the massive open-air site Festivalpark on the outskirts of Hradec Králové. But thousands of fans, including hundreds from abroad, particularly Poland, have already begun descending on the city. Along the way, scores have found themselves caught up in police searches for illegal drugs and contraband.
Now in its 17th year, Hip Hop Kemp is regularly included among CNN’s list of 50 best music festivals in the world. Between Thursday and Saturday night, some 500 artists in total are due to appear on Festivalpark’s six stages, offering nearly 100 hours of live hip hop. Headliners include the American rapper GZA from the legendary Wu-Tang Clan and Hopsin.
Each year, an estimated 20,000 hip hop fans attend at least part of the festival. Not all of them respect the organiser’s rule stating: “It is forbidden to bring drugs to the festival as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.”
Police have already confiscated over 600 grams of hashish, as well as psychotropic drugs, and detained at least a dozen people, says Hradec Králové police spokesman and crime prevention coordinator Ondřej Moravčík. He notes festivalgoers are always trying to find innovative ways to smuggle in contraband, for example, by hiding drugs in packets of crisps.
“But we have police dogs specially trained to look for addictive substances, for example in the luggage or vehicles. The main reason for the large deployment is that a large number of foreign tourists come for Hip Hop Kemp, most of all from neighbouring Poland, and this is without a doubt one of the riskiest events in the entire region.”
While in the Czech Republic it is legal to have “a small amount” of marijuana on your person and grow a few plants for your personal consumption, hash and harder drugs are not tolerated. To stem any such trafficking, police have set up control points near the Polish border and along main routes to the Hradec Králové venue, including at the regional airport.
Meanwhile, despite having grown to become among the biggest music festivals in the whole of central Europe, Hip Hop Kemp usually passes without major incident.
It’s the bands – not the contrabands – that generally make headlines. And on that note, representing the Czech and Slovak scene this year are the likes of PSH, Majk Spirit, Paulie Garand, Rest, James Cole and Pio Sqaud.
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