Students who want to join the Ghost Ghang must enter a blood pact that unites the group of rappers.
At least that’s what Omar Samir, a 2013 graduate and the founder of the collaborative hip-hop/rap collective, joked about the growing popularity of Ghost Ghang, also known as the Hungry Ghosts. A number of solo artists who’ve been brought together by their experiences at Temple make up the Hungry Ghosts, which members said has gained a “cult-like following” recently.
John Peruso, another 2013 graduate who raps under the name ‘P64’ – inspired by his information and computer science technology major and love of video games – released a mixtape in February called “Philadelphia Love Story,” but he spends a significant amount of time performing with the Hungry Ghosts.
“Really, we kind of owe everything to Temple in a way,” Peruso said. “If it weren’t for Temple, we wouldn’t know each other – the infrastructure wouldn’t be here to hold us together, we wouldn’t have learned the stuff that we learned through the curriculum at Temple – also Maxi’s, the open mic night there kind of put us in contact and brought all these amazing rappers together, and that kind of just formed a scene that made us all have to rhyme pretty hard to be the best that we can. It raised the level of competition amongst everyone, really.”
Samir, whose rapper name is OHM, said the Hungry Ghosts have become something of an “urban legend” on Main Campus, even though many of the members are now alumni. Members of the group will still attend “Freestyle Fridays” at the Bell Tower on Pollett Walk, which is where they first started rhyming together as underclassmen. Ivan Moukhin, a fifth-year senior international business and marketing major who goes by Prophet Lethal Dose, said their increased success has been exciting.
“We’ve gotten from various people that when they came to visit Temple, they saw Freestyle Fridays, they recognized us, and it’s a little weird but we influenced their decision when they were trying to decide to come here,” Moukhin said. “So almost in honor of them we’ve got to go out and keep going harder.”
Members of the Hungry Ghosts said while they primarily target their fan base on Main Campus, they’ve expanded their following from North Philadelphia to near Center City, and have worked with artists citywide. The group has opened for Dice Raw formerly of The Roots and members of Wu-Tang Clan in Philadelphia performances.
Between February 2013 and February 2014, they threw monthly concert parties at the M-Room at 15 W. Girard Ave. Peruso said their audiences, particularly their dedicated fans, expected a “festival atmosphere.”
Peruso said along with his own mixtape, many of the Ghost Ghang members have their own records to be released soon. In addition, the group as a whole is working with a group of Philadelphia-based producers called SciFi on an album, more details for which will be announced this fall. They also perform at events on request.
One upcoming event at which the Hungry Ghosts will perform is a block party fundraiser hosted by HootaThon and fraternity Alpha Kappa Lambda, proceeds from which will benefit Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“Anyone who deems your art necessary is going to approach you,” Samir said. “So like, I’ve been approached on campus, or out of state and stuff.”
Cody Griswold, an alumnus with a sculpture major and art history minor, DJs for the Hungry Ghosts, which Samir said facilitates the artists’ performances. Griswold, who performs as DJ Cody Griz, met a Philadelphia DJ at an event in Texas who knew of the Hungry Ghosts by reputation and told Griswold the group is “killing it right now.”
Griswold said he believes Main Campus has been the perfect atmosphere to cultivate a following for their rap group.
“Now people see us and go ‘Oh, you’re in Ghost Ghang,’ ‘Oh, don’t you know so-and-so,’ so that’s that grassroots vibe that, you know, it’s building,” Griswold said. “It’s a burning ember in the middle of Temple right now that’s spreading across the city.”
Peruso said he thinks the variety of sound due to the different artists’ styles has been a strength to the Hungry Ghosts.
“Sometimes there’s a consistent sound that you expect from a group, but with us, because it’s a group of solo artists, there’s a good mix various styles,” Peruso said. “It’s a really varied soundscape for people to get into.”
Moukhin said the Hungry Ghosts have used their assorted styles to target “every niche in hip-hop,” which has grown each of them as individual artists. Peruso said additional success for the members has come as an inevitable result of each of them acting as “unofficial ambassadors” for the others. Samir joked that the free publicity doesn’t come easily.
“If [a student does] join, we’re going to expect a monthly tribute to show your loyalty,” Samir said, laughing. “You’re going to have to sit through the initiation process in the valley of darkest thoughts and we’re going to beat you up one minute for every previous member of Ghost Ghang.”
Erin Edinger-Turoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @erinJustineET.