A first reaction review: Art of Cool Festival is a five year old

That’s so dope and so Durham.


It takes something special to connect in a way that community speaks up, shows up, and will ride for you and/or your creativity. This week in Durham was nothing short of magic. So much, I started calling Durham the Magic City.


What we’ve known from the beginning about The Art of Cool Festival can be summed up in two powerful words: family and community. If you were here this weekend you felt it. You felt normal things that come up in families and community.


You may have seen new owners, Sulaiman Mausi and Lesleigh Mausi address the dopeness and the problems that come up in families and community. Little Brother reunited and dedicated their performance to Darian Atlas Hager, a beloved man for the culture who passed away a few months ago. Sons of Kemet intensified the walls of The Pinhook with their sound and with their intention. You could hear the gregarious beats and bars of Nas' 1999 single, 'Hate Me Now' miles away from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Erykah Badu hyponotized us with tunes from the 21-year old 'Baduizm'. She shared her story of writing this album while pregnant with her son, Seven.


Magic. Miracles. Dreams come true. There was a balancing, a reckoning... it was beautiful.


Quite often I say I don’t have or can’t find the words to express what I’m full of at the moment but this time, I have words:


I stay lifted by the show of community here in Durham. I stay impressed by a willingness to acknowledge and solve problems. I stay grounded in love because of what I’ve experienced time and again by the people who live in and who are attracted to this great city.


I have never been more proud to be here. I stay prouder. Like, one level of proud gets better than the last.


My mother, Diane F. Dozier wrote about the idea of her children being better in her master’s thesis in 1976. Special Education y’all. Art of Cool is a local and national brand that carries on the legacy of my mother’s intention for me, but also for the generations of mothers and fathers in this country who wished for the same. Can we be dope together? After this week of a newly formed Trifesta, i.e., Google For Entrepreneurs Exchange, Black Wall Street Homecoming, and the Art of Cool Project, I have no doubt we can.


My unsolicited advice for myself and for our community is to listen, be honest and trust the process. We are all learning, growing, adjusting, (and whatever other participle) to our next level.

It is our fuel for higher.

It is our fuel for hire.

It’s our legacy.

It’s alchemy.

It’s jazz’s baby.

It’s hip hop.

It’s the show of worth to which we are deserving.

And, it’s still all good.


So much love, 🙏🏾

Angel Iset Dozier

Be Connected Durham


Fun Facts:


Five is the number of necessary change.


Cicely Mitchell, co-founder of the Art of Cool Festival and President of the Art of Cool Project helped me rename Be Community to Be Connected. Now, we’re here. Be Connected Durham.


Erykah Badu. Art of Cool Festival September 29 2018.

All Rights Reserved. Be Connected Durham x Iset Excelsior LLC 2019