Several years ago, a Temple tradition was born. Every Friday around 1 p.m., hip-hop lovers, emcees and spectators gather around the Bell Tower to watch and participate in Freestyle Friday.
Freestyle Friday is a weekly cypher where emcees showcase their improvisational rhyming talents over old school beat boxing. The event was started by a former Temple student, Philadelphia native and rising hip-hop artist Mic Stew.
The foundation for Ghost Ghang was laid in 2009 when three current members, and one former member, met at one of the Freestyle Fridays.
Two years later, in Spring 2011, Ghost Ghang was created. All members of the hip-hop collective are currently enrolled at Temple or have since graduated or left the institution.
The members have strong roots in the city, some coming from all different parts of Philadelphia, while others represent diverse cultural backgrounds. Outside of the Tri-State area, members of the Ghost Ghang call Memphis, Tenn., and Russia home. Although their cultures and backgrounds are unique, the members do not soley represent how unique Ghost Ghang is.
The Wu-Tang Clan had the RZA, A Tribe Called Quest had Q-Tip and the Ghost Ghang has O.H.M. An acronym standing for “Ohm Has Meaning,” O.H.M. is, in the words of emcee Mad Matt Swayzie, “the fearless pirate leader” of Ghost Ghang.
Members of the group cover all aspects of hip-hop music, varying from a magnitude of emcees to information technology and marketing.
Members of Ghost Ghang who solely rap are P64, Francois the Demon, Palz aka Uncle Stretch, Nonsense, Quazar, Davie Don’t Exist, Ai-Que and MG the Golem King. Visitor 10, the group’s “time traveling wizard,” and Prophet Lethal Dose act as emcees, marketers and graphic designers.
The “hip-hop Goku,” Tray Digga, acts as an emcee while also booking shows with Visitor 10. King Tut and Byron the Juggernaut cover the area of beat boxing, while also participating as emcees. At a Ghost Ghang show, DJ CodyGriz can be found scratching records or designing the group’s merchandise. A Ghost Ghang affiliate, Jex Xionas, contributes his talents to the collective in the form of rapping, beat boxing, producing and engineering.
Last is the IT manager of the group President Trill Clinton – Marian Luther King – Talcum X.
With such a great amount of creativity and eccentricity pulsating through the group, it is hard for one to put a label on Ghost Ghang’s music.
This enigmatic nature is exactly what O.H.M. envisioned when starting Ghost Ghang, recruiting all different types of hip-hop artists in order to produce, as Tray Digga said, a “massive assembly of unstoppable, dope emcees.”
With influences varying from Eminem and Big L to Mike Shinoda and MF DOOM, the Ghost Ghang combines all the members’ distinctive aspects to create a “chaotic collection of crazy rhyme crusaders,” said Mad Matt Swayzie, with the main objective of “bringing back real hip-hop.”
Although Ghost Ghang is heavily enamored with the freestyle aspect of hip-hop, an impressive amount of live shows and a large discography is something it said the group’s proud of.
The Ghost Ghang and its members have performed at many venues in Philadelphia, including The Trocadero, Kung Fu Necktie, The M-Room and 3G Lounge. One of the group’s proudest moments came the night of the State Penitentiary’s “Terror Behind the Walls” when it rocked an after party for seven straight hours.
Ghost Ghang’s first collective album is scheduled to be released at the end of the summer. The group’s music is available on soundcloud.com/ghostghang.
Spencer McLain Bennett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.