For the past 10 years, Philadelphia’s hip-hop scene has been blessed by its presence. This Philly hip-hop staple has become known as one of the top outlets of expression for heads across the city.
The event, known as “The Gathering,” is held on the last Thursday of every month in the Rotunda, a venue on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus at 40th and Walnut streets.
All four elements of hip-hop are represented: emceeing, DJing, b-boying (breakdancing) and graffiti art.
People of all backgrounds come out every month for The Gathering. A recent event attracted young kids staying up past their bedtimes and showing off their dance skills on the floor, to a middle-aged emcee on stage in a security uniform having just arrived from work.
“This event is for all ages,” said Ibrahim ‘I-B’ Carter, host of The Gathering for the past four years. Several months ago he took over organizational duties for the event, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
“There’s no drinking and smoking … it’s not a club scene, but a culture scene,” Carter said. “Plus, it gives up-and-coming artists a chance to shine.”
One of these up-and-coming artists is 22-year-old Temple junior and engineering major Ansell Radaway, also known as Transmute. He’s brought his rhyme skills to The Gathering for the past two years.
At the event, b-boys and b-girls windmill and pop-lock while The Commission, a collective DJ and music group, spin old and new hip-hop and break tracks.
The highlight of the evening is the featured performance and open mic portion when hopefuls like Radaway flock the stage eager to bless the microphone and showcase their talent.
Recently, The Gathering organized an emcee battle, in which the victor took home a $200 cash prize.
“This is the only place that has all four elements of hip-hop culture,” Radaway said. “It’s a decent place to mingle, to enjoy the atmosphere. This type of vibe is absent in Temple’s hip hop scene.”
The Gathering is a fairly undiscovered venue of hip-hop culture, yet it is consistently packed wall-to-wall every month. That success is due in part to the most universal form of advertising: word of mouth.
“I’ve been coming here for a while and I’ve never experienced anything like it,” said junior Chris Anderson, a communications major and sponsorship coordinator for the event.
“It has become a movement, an arena for talented and gifted individual artistic expression.”
Anderson and Carter have partnered to promote The Gathering’s 10-year anniversary event.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Anderson said. “Hopefully all who have enjoyed The Gathering all these years will appreciate it.”
Suhailah White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.