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WMUA event to curate hip hop culture at UMass


Tonight in the Reading Room, across from the UPub in the Campus Center, WMUA 91.1 FM will present “Hip Hop in Renaissance,” a live event celebrating hip hop culture.

Starting at 7:30 p.m., this free, all-ages event will feature live music and visual artists. The documentary film, “Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap,” directed by Ice T and Andy Baybutt, will be shown between performances.

Kicking off the night’s performances will be Hokes. The Flanders, N.J., native and former student of the University of Massachusetts – where he was better known by his birth name Bobby Addimando Jr. – will bring his unique instrumental hip hop sound to his alma mater.

Inspired by avante-garde hip hop producers such as J Dilla and Flying Lotus, Hokes makes experimental sample-based beats that have a live feel. Hokes will be performing music from his recent “stepnstones|1” EP as well as remixes, unreleased beats and music that has influenced him using just a Roland SP-404SX sampler,

“I’m not going to be using a laptop at all,” said Hokes in an interview with WMUA. “A lot of performing producers nowadays use their laptops, but there is definitely a select few that use the 404 and I was just really intrigued by the concept of a live performance without using a computer, especially because the idea of computer music is very big right now, so I wanted to challenge myself.”

New Bedford-based MC Qwin Omaru, a rapper with conscience lyrics and diverse musical influences, will follow Hokes. His latest release, “The Difference,” features production ranging from soulful boom bap beats to an A$AP Rocky remix and even to dubstep elements, all with laser precise rhymes on top.

Having previously opened for mashup artist Kap Slap and frat rap icon Asher Roth, whose, “I Love College,” was a hit in 2009, Omaru is not a newcomer to live performance. His Facebook page features a video from the Kap Slap gig where he rhymes over Skrillex’s raucous remix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema” while a large crowd thrashes along. One can only hope that this event will feature the same energy.

Chris Wise and Ace Con-Plex Omigie will deliver the penultimate performance of the night, backed by UMass’ own backup band BootyStank. He describes himself as a “‘Renaissance Man:’ artist, journalist, entrepreneur, student, teacher and above all, human.”

Wise’s most recent release “The Man: Evolutionary Progression” is a must listen. Wise delivers amazing verse after amazing verse over classic hip hop beats. This performance will be unique in that Wise and Con-Plex, a member of Wise’s Black Market Wares collective, will be backed by a live band. Wise and BootyStank will perform together for the first time.

“I’m literally ecstatic,” said Wise in an interview with WMUA. “It’s gonna be pretty, I don’t want to say ridiculous but, we’re absolutely gonna turn it up. … We’re gonna be rockin’ with the band.”

Headlining the event will be Boston’s Tiger Speak, an eight-piece hip hop/jazz collective, which draws influences from the jazz sample-based production of hip hop legends such as A Tribe Called Quest, Nas and De La Soul.

Tiger Speak delivers a very unique live performance that melds the best of both musical worlds. The band provides a smooth, grooving bed of music for trumpet player and MC Ryan Easter to lay his deft rhymes over. Along with the hip hop influenced elements, which may remind some listeners of hip hop legend The Roots, Tiger Speak features all of the improvisation and solos one would expect from a great jazz group.

Along with these musical performances, artist Edgardo Sanchez will be live-painting throughout the event, and the sponsors, which include jewelry and clothing companies, organizations that aim to inspire academic success and UMass RSOs, will be in attendance for audience members to speak with.

“I’m getting people who really enjoy not only the performance aspect of hip hop, but like to network with companies that are kind of following the model of what hip hop grew to be,” said WMUA Publicity Director Dylan Brewer, who put together the event with the help of fellow UMass students Courtney Miranda, Liz Cancelliere and Kasey Kinsella.

“There’s the clothing lines and jewelry organizations that follow the hip hop culture and the hip hop identity so it’s a good opportunity for people to go there, network with these organizations and these businesses and talk to them about hip hop,” Brewer said.”

Gabe Scarbrough can be reached at


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