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Innovation, culture and music were center of attention at the Innovate Your Cool conference, held this past weekend at American Underground in Durham to compliment the Art of Cool Festival

Sessions featured entrepreneurs, musicians, rappers, chefs and other creatives from Durham and beyond—there were interactive activities for children too. The following photo essay captures some of the best moments at the annual innovation event. 

To Pimp A Butterfly Roundtable 

IYC To Pimp a Butterfly Panel
The roundtable featured Terrance Martin and Rapsody. Martin is a musician, rapper and producer from LA who has worked with artists like Kendrick Lamar. Rapsody is not only the sole rap feature on Kendrick Lamar's new album To Pimp A Butterfly, but also TIME's top female artist. 

Panel View - To Pimp A Butterfly Roundtable 

IYC To Pimp a Butterfly Panel - Panel View
Terrance Martin and Rapsody talk on the To Pimp A Butterfly roundtable.
The view of the panel during the To Pimp A Butterfly roundtable. Martin and Rapsody spoke to the crowd about working on the new Kendrick Lamar album and the current environment for minorities in music. 

Iron Chef Competition 

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Precious-Jewel and Jacqueline of Indulge Catering who participated in the Iron Chef portion of Innovate Your Cool.
IYC Iron Chef
There was an Iron Chef portion of the event, where local chefs competed against each other.
During the Iron Chef competition, attendees voted on dishes prepared by local chefs. Pictured above is the Mediterranean Burger created by Precious-Jewel Zabriskie and Jacqueline White of Indulge Catering. Other chefs included Yah-I Ausar Tafari Amen, who is the owner and head chef of Vegan Flava Cafe in Durham and Chef Cordell, of Chicago’s Washburne Culinary Institute. 


Allison Mathews, a Doctor of Sociology from UNC speaks about her project 2beatHIV.
Allison Mathews, a doctor of sociology from UNC Chapel Hill, discusses her project 2BeatHIV. The project’s purpose is to crowdsource advocates for HIV treatment and testing, but ultimately to involve the community in finding a cure for HIV. ExitEvent highlighted the project earlier this week

Local Artists 

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An artist paints live art at Innovate Your Cool.
During an ARTivism panel, local artists discussed the state of art and activism in Durham. Some of them also made art live during the event, painting some of its most memorable moments.

Anthony Frasier 

IYC Anthony Frasier
Anthony Frasier gives a fireside talk with Michael English, the event organizer.
Anthony Frasier is an entrepreneur who's launched ventures like Playd and The Phat Startup as well as an author. He's pictured here giving a fireside talk about his new book Don’t Dumb Down Your Greatness, with event organizer Michael English. The talk highlighted Frasier’s experiences as an entrepreneur along with advice for other entrepreneurs of color. 

Cypher University & J Rowdy 

IYC Cypher
The Innovate Your Cool Conference ended with a performance by Cyber University.
IYC Kevin Rousey
Kevin Joshua Rowsey II, better known by his stage name (J) Rowdy, is an American Rapper, Actor, Comedian, and writer from Chapel Hill, NC. He performed with Cypher at the Innovate Your Cool conference.
J Rowdy is a local rapper, comedian and actor from Chapel Hill. He performed with Cypher University, an improvisational expression group that started at NC State and inspired six more Cypher University chapters throughout the state. The group is currently pending for the Guinness World record for longest cypher, which they recently performed on the UNC campus. 

Traditionally, a cypher is a group of lyricists and performers who express ideas in free verse. Cypher University takes this further by including hip-hop techniques like beatboxing and emceeing.

WildEyes Virtual Reality

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Wildeyes Virtual Reality Session at Innovate Your Cool.
Using WildEyes virtual reality headsets, attendees were able to experience 360-degree views of U.S. National Parks from downtown Durham. The Durham startup will showcase its technology on a cross-country tour starting in August.