Music isn’t always just music. It’s also an expession of life experiences, emotions and social consciousness.
The final show of Spring 2000’s Baptism by Fire series took the essence of hip-hop and power of music to a higher level.
The show featured familiar artists Dead Seeds, Parts of Speech and Natural Burners, as well as new performers.
Temple students and guests from other schools gathered last Thursday in Mitten Hall to listen, dance and speak out against social problems.
To start, Hip-Hop Society president Kinte MacDaniel asked the audience to give praise to ancestors such as Curtis Mayfield, Martin Luther King and Gandhi.
Torrie Mullen started the show with a dramatic poetry reading that poked at relationships between men and women. Her first piece, “The Things I Thought I Was,” questioned the fidelity of men. Her second work questioned the fidelity of women — as Mullen said, “Women cheat too.”
Parts of Speech, a veteran of Baptism by Fire shows, performed with a level of professionalism that rivaled aged musicians. The intelligent lyrics will carry the band into the future.
“People watch MTV and think that’s what hip-hop is,” said Parts of Speech member Tim Brindle, a.k.a. Ambush the Syllabist. “That’s not hip-hop. What we’re doing is hip-hop.”
“We’re not trying to make this a business. We’re doing it for ourselves,” said the other half of the group Cedric Hardy, a.k.a. Verbal Tech.
Other artists at the show and people in the audience shared Brindle and Hardy’s disdain for corporate hip-hop. Before Dead Seeds took center stage, MacDaniel asked the audience to buy Parts of Speech’s independently produced CD:”It’s only $7. You spend $7 at the Owl’s Nest. What’s more nutritious, a cheesesteak or conscious hip-hop?”
Sophomore Roddy Nesbitt, a.k.a. Da Riddla, said he had been performing for 10 years. The expressiveness of the genre appealed to him the most. “The art of it is my life — my release,” he said.
The expressiveness he talked about can be seen and heard in his performance. His song “Writer’s Block” compared the new corporate hip-hop to masturbation. He said masturbation is faking sex and corporate hip-hop on TV and the radio is much like faking music.
MacDaniel’s group Natural Burners brought the same high-energy element they brought to the last Baptism by Fire show. In their lyrics, they expressed their anger and frustration with the problems plaguing society.
Adanansi, a philosophical performer who has graced Baptism by Fire numerous times with his presence, challenged the audience’s thoughts with statements like: “You are me, you are me and you are me. If I can’t love you, how can I love me?” After a bout of philosophical pondering, he called Da Riddla, Dead Seeds, VuDuMan and other performers on stage. Together they freestyled and danced, catching beats like experienced fishermen out at sea.
Clay Shelby, a.k.a. Sub-Conscious, has been performing since his senior year in high school. For this show, he performed his single “Pushing Orbit,” soon to be released on an independent label. Shelby said his influences came from classic performers like Jimi Hendrix and old school rap. “Hip-hop is a life force; it’s my culture,” said Shelby, a senior.
The turnout was smaller than MacDaniel expected, but he said he wasn’t disappointed. “I like intimate settings,” he said. This Baptism by Fire segment will be MacDaniel’s last. Although he said he has only a semester left, he will not be around to organize future events similar to these.
He also said his musical influences are Mos Def, Redman, Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald, along with the people he surrounds himself with. In the future, he hopes to bring about change and revolution.
Audience members had nothing but high praise for the final show of the semester. Sophomore Theater major Joale Norris said, “The most enjoyable aspect of the show was the positive energy and spirituality of what the performers were doing.”
“It’s not the same thing that you hear on the radio,” Political Science major Marie Baptiste said. “The radio only plays artists that glorify money and women. This is different and it’s positive.”
“I love hip-hop and these cats represent it totally,” sophomore Chavar Dollard said. “Everyone brings something different to it. With hip-hop, no one says the same thing, but everyone still understands.”