The Black Student Union Association (BSUA) is hosting a free rap concert, titled “It’s Bigger than Hip Hop,” on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose room in Pogue Student Center.
“This concert will be great for everyone to come out and have a great time and also to be able to experience some influential hip hop music through the years in one concert,” Julian Lanier said about the show.
“I started writing music within this past year. The reason is because I needed a way to express how I was feeling, so I gave it a shot, tried it out and I love it. The music that we are performing has touched people in a way that is more than just music and as a musician that’s what it’s all about, putting the feelings we all feel into words for everyone to hear,” Lanier explained about this music.
Connor McNelis talked about how he came up with the idea for hosting this concert. He mentioned some of his inspirations were from “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” and Kendrick Lamar’s video, “Alright.”
“The idea came to me from a couple different places. This past summer I stumbled upon ‘Dave Chappelle’s Block Party,’ a sort of documentary, concert movie of a show he held on a street corner in Brooklyn. He had Kanye [“College Dropout” era], Jill Scott, The Fugees, Erykah Badu and The Roots [play]. I thought it was so inspiring, I wanted to do something like that so bad, so I thought to myself ‘Why doesn’t this happen more often? 2004 wasn’t that long ago.’”
“Another thing that inspired me was Kendrick Lamar’s music video for ‘Alright.’ What struck me the most, apart from its visual storytelling and aesthetic, was this community vibe I got from it. People jumping up and down, dancing and having fun all in the name of positive, preaching hip hop and I wanted to make that a reality,” McNelis explained about his inspiration for organizing the concert.
Headlining rappers include Xavier Ross, Lanier and Khalil Sellers. The concert will be accompanied by a full instrumental band with Josh Merow playing drums, Jonathan Lohr playing bass, Will Whiteside playing acoustic guitar, Benn Wilson playing electric guitar and piano, and Connor McNelis playing piano.
“The whole thing about the event that I think is real cool is the use of live instruments. We made it a point to stay away from backing tracks and instrumentals as much as possible. Using live drums, guitars and piano really creates a more authentic sound for what we’re doing here. It feels much more natural this way,” McNelis said.
McNelis talked about how hip-hop interconnects everyone and how music can make a cultural impact on society. It links people of different races, cultures and backgrounds through its deep lyrics and intellectual meaning.
“When people think of music changing the world or making that much of a cultural impact, they think of Woodstock or Bruce Springsteen playing at the Berlin Wall. I think we can be doing more to have this music be making an impact on us. As a community here, a student body, I’ve found for the most part the one thing that seems to link everybody from all creeds, cliques and colors, is rap music. Whether they’re hip-hop snobs, connoisseurs or just dabble in the genre, its all there,” McNelis said.
The concert will feature covers of rap and hip- hop songs from the 90s and today including the likes of Kanye, Nas, Jay-Z, Naughty by Nature, J. Cole, Drake and Kendrick Lamar.
“We’ll be doing covers primarily, but we definitely have some original lyrics from the rappers planned, maybe a freestyle, a cypher, who knows? Come see for yourself,” McNelis said.
Anna Ashcraft is The Arts Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at email@example.com