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Washington’s disputable cred as a hiphop city aside, last year’s inaugural D.C. Hiphop Theater Festival was a solid success, attracting more than 3,000 people over two days. According to coordinator José Dominguez, this year’s sequel is not only bigger—expanded to five days at five venues—it’s more ambitious, too. “We’re taking a leap in regards to our work and trusting that the audience is going to come along with us,” Dominguez says. That leap, however, doesn’t extend to focusing exclusively on D.C.-based acts. As was the case last year, more than half of the acts are from outside the region, mostly from hiphop-rich NYC (where the festival’s concept originated). Of the New Yorkers, spoken-word performer Vanessa Hidary (pictured)—who promises to take you “back to the days of shell-top Adidas”—is most intriguing. As for the D.C. crew, “16 Bars” gives a slew of area rappers just that long to prove their verbal mettle over the accompaniment of Brent Munch Joseph’s Hiphop Philharmonica. And to settle the long-standing geographic enmity, a duo of D.C. rappers will take on two NYC MCs in an old-fashioned battle. However, half of D.C.’s team is 6-foot-10-inch Wizards center Etan Thomas, who was born in Harlem and went to Syracuse. Damn. I guess if you can’t beat ’em, you draft ’em in the first round. The D.C. Hiphop Theater Festival kicks off Tuesday, July 15, at venues around the city. All events are free. See City List for a full schedule of events, or call (202) 724-5614 for more information. (Mike DeBonis)