A guide to CIAA’s entertainment events, from a Slick Rick concert to HBCU step shows

Published on: February 23, 2023 6:00 AM EST|Updated on: February 25, 2023 4:55 PM EST

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick perform at the Legends of Hip Hop vol 4 show at the CIAA.
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Parking in Baltimore City is always a hassle. This weekend, it’ll be even worse than usual with tens of thousands of additional people visiting the downtown area — but at least it’s for celebratory reasons (and not just the usual gridlock).

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association is in Baltimore for its 78th annual basketball tournament. Founded in 1912, the CIAA is the first and longest-running Black athletic conference in the United States. But the men’s and women’s Division II games, which will take place at CFG Bank Arena, aren’t the only draw for visitors.

People across the country will travel to Charm City to partake in the many parties being thrown for the dayslong occasion. Food trucks, day parties, step shows and live performances from artists such as Jeezy are just some of the events available for visitors to attend, and they’re just as important a factor in showcasing the positives of Baltimore to visitors.

Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, crowned the city as a place that actively promotes small and minority-owned businesses and celebrates achievements of the Black community. He hopes having the CIAA tournament here will have longer-term effects, such as helping support business relocation, new home purchases, an increase in visitation and the recruitment of college students to schools in the area.

“Not only does this event put Baltimore in the national spotlight, it provides an opportunity to show new visitors what our community is all about,” Hutchinson said. “To know Baltimore is to love it. We hope visitors leave Baltimore feeling connected to our community, local businesses and with a deep desire to share the experience with family and friends.”

For those interested in the entertainment aspect of the weekend, here are some of the most musically inclined CIAA-associated events taking place through Sunday.

Thursday

ECSU CIAA Alumni Party

Rapper Chubb Rock and DJ Skillz will kick off Thursday night’s festivities at Elizabeth City State University’s alumni party. The event takes place at Rams Head Live, a very popular venue this week. Tickets can be purchased here.

Friday

’Legends of Hip Hop Vol. 3’ with KRS-One

Hip-hop goes hand in hand with the Black community, so it’s only fitting that Baltimore will host rap legend and pioneer KRS-One during one of the most important weeks for HBCUs. He will be performing at Rams Head Live; buy your tickets here.

Jeezy Live in Concert

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Popular recording artist Jeezy will be performing at Ikonic Live. Promoted as Jeezy “performing at least 45 minutes of all his hits,” this event will be a must-attend for any rap fan. Tickets can be purchased here.

Anthony Hamilton and K. Michelle at The Lyric

Grammy Award-winning singer Anthony Hamilton, plus singer and actress K. Michelle, will be performing at The Lyric. For those looking for a calm yet fun evening amid the chaos of CIAA week, this is the perfect opportunity. Tickets are available for purchase here.

CIAA Stepshow Throwdown

To complete your authentic HBCU experience, you must attend a step show. Attending this is simply not optional. Hosted by 92Q Jams, eight different step teams from all over the country will be competing for cash prizes and bragging rights. Tickets are on sale here.

Saturday

The Official CIAA Ultimate Day Party featuring Lil’ Mo and Kid Capri

You can start having your Saturday fun nice and early with recording artist Lil’ Mo, a former Baltimore resident, and DJ Kid Capri. Both will be at Rams Head Live starting at 1 p.m. for the CIAA Ultimate Day Party, where they’ll make sure everyone in attendance is pumped up and prepared for their nighttime activities. Purchase your tickets here.

‘Legends of Hip Hop Vol. 4’ with Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick will perform some of the hits that shaped hip-hop as we know it in another installment of the “Legends of Hip Hop” series. If you haven’t gotten enough of Rams Head Live, stick nearby for this concert, which starts three hours after the Ultimate Day Party. You’ll be sure to hear classics like “La Di Da Di” and “The Show.” Tickets are available here.

Finesse2tymes Live in Concert — Hosted by Lil’ Meech

Finesse2tymes, who rose to prominence in 2022, will be performing at Ikonic, as Lil Meech — also known as actor Demetrius Flenory Jr. — serves as host of the evening. With the “Back End” rapper and Starz “BMF” star in attendance, it seems this event is geared toward a younger, plugged-in audience. Tickets can be bought here.

Sunday

Poetry vs. Hip-Hop: CIAA Edition

Grammy-nominated poet Queen Sheba and Emmy Award-winning poet Bluz will be hosting this special event at Rams Head Live. The show doesn’t start until 2 p.m., but brunch will be served to attendees starting at noon. Buy your tickets here.