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206 Zulu: 20 years of community and empowerment through hip-hop culture

Hip-hop has been a community-unifying force and a creative outlet for artists trying to make a living. Whether it’s as an emcee, a DJ, breakdancers, aka b-boys/girls, or graffiti artists, hip-hop has given opportunities for talented artists to make a living for decades. For the past 20 years, 206 Zulu has been dedicated to unifying hip-hop elements in Seattle through community events and programs. Founded in 2004, 206 Zulu’s mission is to empower and unify the greater Seattle community through hip-hop culture with their slogan “uplift, preserve, celebrate.”

“206 Zulu was an idea that was seated through myself, Kitty Wu, and others from the community here in Seattle as a need to think collectively within the hip-hop community,” said Khazm Kogita, founding member of 206 Zulu. 

Over the years, 206 Zulu has seen many notable milestones, its biggest being retaining the space they are currently operating out of, the historic Washington Hall. Opened in 1908, Washington Hall is an event space that has seen a wide range of performers such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, Macklemore, and so much more. In 2009, 206 Zulu and the greater Seattle community came together and helped save the building from being demolished. They also restored the space, using it to organize programs and events and setting up a high-end recording studio called Emerald Street Studios.

206 Zulu offers a wide range of programs centered around the elements of hip-hop culture, the majority of which are free for all ages to participate in. “We deal a lot in education and community empowerment from a lens of social justice,” Kogita explained. These programs include but are not limited to “Soulful Mondays,” an open space for dancers to practice and build community every Monday, and “Writers Bench,” a collective of street and graffiti artists who draw with each other. “Beats to the Rhyme” is a mentorship program for young emcees and producers. They are given opportunities to write songs, produce beats, record in the Emerald Street Studio, and develop music videos. They are also able to perform at different venues and events. 

206 Zulu recently celebrated their 20th anniversary with a five-day event made up of concerts, breakdancing battles with cash prizes, panel discussions, workshops, and mural paintings.

These events were held at venues such as Washington Hall, Madam Lou’s, and Havana Social Club. Several emcees, DJs, breakdancing crews, and graffiti artists flew in from around the world to participate in the anniversary event.

Some upcoming re-occurring events that 206 Zulu are the Northwest Folklife Festival in May, along with their 13th annual Beat Masters competition for producers with showcases and panel discussions. Kogita mentions an upcoming history project the organization is working on; “This year, aside from the events, we have this project called “Our Story” which is an oral history project, so talking with a lot of pioneers and influential people within the hip-hop community and them just telling their stories.” This project will feature interviews and a pack of trading cards with different hip-hop artists and graffiti writers. There is also a 20th-anniversary music compilation currently in production that will be coming out later this year. Their full list of events is available on their website.


Angelo Harper

Angelo Harper is a first year student at Seattle Central College perusing his AA degree for Journalism. Born in Seattle and raised in Shoreline, He wrote for his high school newspaper for two years before graduating and on the side he likes to write rhymes and perform under the stage name “Lil Fax Machine” where he has collaborated with local artists from the Seattle area on several tracks and a few music videos.

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