Students Celebrate Hip-Hop and History in Weeklong Event

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From March 28 to April 1, the Student Government Association (SGA) Programs Board sponsored 5 Days of Hip-Hop with the help of the Dance Club; Political Science Professor, Sahar Shafqat; Museum Studies Professor, Julia A. King; and the Black Student Union (BSU).

Sophomore Anuli Duru, the organizer of the event, described it in an All-Student email as, “Old school to new school. This is a celebration of the elements of hip-hop that make it a lifestyle, a movement, and a revolution.”

Each day of hip-hop week had a theme and a particular set of events associated with that theme. The theme for the first day, March 28, was “Hip-hop is international and interconnecting.” To celebrate the international nature of hip-hop, Programs Board played international hip-hop music in the Great Room. Afterward in Cole Cinema from 8 to 9 p.m., Programs Board hosted the College’s first Rap and Beat-box Battle Royale. Duru described the event saying, “It was a very communal event, it was great to see different types of people at the event.”

The second day’s theme was, “Hip-hop  is education and lifestyle.” Working with Washington D.C. organization Words, Beats, & Life, there was a presentation and panel discussion lead by  Mazi Mutafa and  Jason Nichols about hip-hop and its history. Duru described the event saying, “It was a very engaging and enlightening experience. Ultimately hip-hop is what you make it to be.”

The theme of the third day was, “Hip-hop is poetry and performance.” The winners from the St. Mary’s Rap and Beat-box Battle Royale, sophomore Josh Stein and senior Pete Burnes (Petey-Pete), opened the show for headliner Bomani Armah, who also worked with Words, Beats, & Life. Duru responded to the performance, saying, “I really liked his rap about creation and talking to God. He does not consider himself at all to be a rapper, rather a spoken poet with a hip-hop flow. He was amazing.”

Junior India Duncan said, “I enjoyed it…I liked his dance skills. I thought it would be actual rapping, but it was more about poetry.”

Day four’s theme was, “Hip-hop is art.” On this day there was a graffiti workshop. Duru said, “We wanted to bring the SMCM community together to help them express themselves. Graffiti was not necessarily created by hip-hop, but hip-hop adopted graffiti; it is a part of its culture, though seemingly negative because sometimes it is used to deface property. But if you look at it in a positive light it stands as a voice and expresses an opinion of somebody, and it forces people to listen. In some ways it’s poetic, in some ways it’s political, in some was it’s nonsense, but all in all it is creative; it’s art.” Afterward, people went to the Nest to dance to hip-hop music. Sophomore Liz Sheehan, a volunteer at the Nest, described why she volunteered, saying, “I think hip-hop is fun, and Anuli forced me to help.”

The last day, April 1, was themed, “Hip-hop is community.” On this day, there was a dance show preview lead by senior Maurielle Stewart. Duru described it as, “meaning to showcase the love and creativity that comes out of hip-hop, and that creates unity among students and artists. Just a good way to end the hip-hop week, with the focus being brought back to community.”

Duru also created a mural for the indoor staircase leading to the Great Room. She described it saying, “The mural was probably one of my most successful projects. I asked students via Facebook, message, phone, and email to send me a picture of them expressing what hip-hop is to them. At first, I was only expecting 20 photos, but I ended up with 84. It made me so happy to see that hip-hop is alive in the SMCM community. Using those pictures, I created a mural spelling out the word ‘Hip-Hop.’”

“This wasn’t easy to plan, but it was definitely worth it in the end,” said Duru. “Overall I loved it, this whole experience was great. Hip-hop week was meant to celebrate hip-hop as a movement, it showed it through positive perspectives like art, social change, community…it is international and poetic.”

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