Most shows on the Kennedy Center Millennium stage start at 6 p.m. Period. But tonight, those who drop by an hour early will get a bonus from the 10th Annual D.C. Hip-Hop Theater Festival and music website Okayafrica. Before the festival’s African hip-hop showcase begins, Rujeko Dumbutshena, a Zimbabwean dancer who appeared on Broadway in Fela!, leads a hip-hop and African fusion dance class. The festival has generously called it a “warm-up,” for those more coordinated participants who might be saving their best dancing for later. At 6 p.m., rapper/fashion designer/producer Tabi Bonney—a local star born in Togo—takes the stage, along with performers from the “New African Renaissance,” including Grammy-nominated singer Maimouna Youssef (pictured) and Sierra Leone’s Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew. Tonight’s event is part of a larger series that should keep b-boys, b-girls, and poppers entertained with music, theater, and spoken word through Saturday. After 10 years, the Hip Hop Theater Festival can be trusted to put on an amazing show. (Megan Arellano) The event begins at 5 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. Free. (202) 467-4600.
The Hip-Hop Theater Festival continues with the 6th Annual J. Dilla Tribute and Fundraiser at the 9:30 Club. Since producer J. Dilla died of a rare blood disease in 2006, Jon Laine and The Players have been carrying the torch by reproducing his tracks live. Tonight, the band is joined by The Pharcyde, Gods’Illa, Wes Felton, Maimouna Youssef (after she wraps up her performance at the Kennedy Center), and many others, in a tribute to the artist and a fundraiser for the J. Dilla and Lupus foundations. The promoters advise guests to arrive early. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. $20.
Fiery Furnaces guitarist Eleanor Friedberger shows up at the Black Cat Backstage to play some songs from her solo album Last Summer. Romania (Roman from The Oranges Band) opens. Doors 8:30 p.m. $10.
Soundgarden recently released a (live) album (recorded in 1996), reunited, and booked a tour. Now that Chris Cornell is trying to forget his terrible Timbaland-produced solo album, he’s forcing us to remember the ’90s. The Mars Volta opens. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets still available at $59.50 plus the usual fees.
Jen Shyu, Violet, and Safe Fast and Effective play Bella Cafe as part of the Dave Mann/Sonic Circuits-curated concert series at the restaurant. 8 p.m. $5.
The U Street Music Hall hosts a tribute to Kristen Bell (Kristen Renee Wolcott Bell), a local woman who was tragically killed in a motorcycle crash on the Capital Beltway June 8. DJs Gavin Holland, Jackie O, Keenan, The Nobis, and a bunch of others will DJ and play live to raise proceeds for a trust fund set up for Bell’s two-year-old son Conan. 8 p.m. $5 minimum donation.
The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet‘s master class ends at noon today, but you can still catch their performance at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center tonight at 8:30 p.m. The company is presenting a Wolf Trap commission by contemporary choreographer Jorma Elo. 8:30 p.m. $4 lawn tickets, $40 in-house.
Musician and jazz historian Ricky Riccardi stops by Politics & Prose to talk about What A Wonderful World, his book about the latter career of Louis Armstrong. 7 p.m. Free.
THE ONLY PLACE YOU WILL HEAR ERIK WØLLO TONIGHT
Washington Post music critic (disclosure: my former colleague) Chris Richards DJs his monthly new age night, Glide, at Café Saint-Ex tonight. It’s the best place in this town to hear tranquil hums, warm synth waves, and other pleasing sounds of the universe while cramming sweet potato fries into your face. 9 p.m. Free.