Students of the Hip-Hop Organization promised to provide “A Real Hip Hop Concert” on their flyer. The artists that came to campus Saturday night made it happen. Median, Edgar Allen Floe, and M1_Platoon hit the stage in Lodge 1 for a hip-hop performance that brought light to the underground scene. In this, their first show, SHHO members thought it would be a great idea to promote artists that many have never heard before.
p. “We heard of the artists through the grapevine and visited their MySpace page to check them out. Since the majority of them are college students, we thought that bringing them to campus would be better than a larger name,” Mallory Abney ’08, a member of the SHHO, said.
p. For many, this was the first taste of live hip-hop, branded with the beats, culture and style of a historical movement. The concert was supposed to start at 8 p.m., but due to delays by arriving acts did not begin until 8:40. While the audience anxiously waited, DJ Gonzo, the official DJ of M1_Platoon, was already set up under red, fluorescent lights, spinning throwback joints to warm the crowd. It was evident that only a small number of people recognized the songs, which ranged from Slick Rick and the Get Fresh Crew to Lauryn Hill. Everyone, however, was keen on learning. A few students initiated a breakdancing battle, one of the oldest dance styles of hip-hop, and even had time to fit in the dance classic, “Electric Slide,” to keep the group from dispersing.
p. When the first act, Median, took the stage, the crowd was hyped and ready to go. The North Carolina native, dressed in a black, parka-style jacket, white shirt and dark jeans, jumped on stage to deliver his first song.
p. Median, who interprets his name as “balance,” has been in the industry for several years now, having an EP, “The Path to Relief,” a mixtape, “Median’s Relief in the Making,” and his debut album, “Median’s Relief.” His music ranges from lesson-learned experiences and nostalgic memories to the powerful, corporate hold on hip-hop.
p. “Life is stages, anyway,” he said. “I just draw from music and my personal experiences … my own unique presentation is what separates me.”
p. After telling the audience to move closer to the stage to create a more personal feel, Median’s 45-minute set kept the crowd engaged as DJ Gonzo backed the tunes and Median moved from side to side, his dreads shaking to the beat, breathing feel-good vibes into his already vibrant vocals.
p. “I’m going to need some audience participation,” he said, inviting the crowd to throw their hands up, as he moved with ease from his first released single, “Rize,” into another one of his mixtape tracks, “Personified.”
p. Median is a vivid storyteller who sports a smooth sound, an ear for clever lyricism and a knack for sprinkling hints of R&B and soul over classic hip-hop beats. With a musical background of playing the drums and freestyle rap, he started to get into more serious writing by the late ’90s. One can see that his name is fitting, as his personality on stage carries through off-stage — a laidback, cool emcee.
p. “It’s good to come up with your own material. The whole cookie-cutter way of doing things — I’m not a big fan of that. Creativity and innovation are ways to come up successful,” he said about his approach to music. His dream collaboration would be to work with George Clinton from Parliament Funkadelic. “He makes dope stuff,” he said.
p. For the end of his set, he fell into two soul-inspired performances, sampling old R&B track “Forever, For Always, For Love” by Luther Vandross for his song “Comfortable” and the new “Lost Without You,” by Robin Thicke, for “If Then Statement.”
“So serious / so comfortable / so silly at times / she said I’m wonderful” Median rhymed finishing with a shoutout to the crowd, “William and Mary doing their own thing, hands in the sky if you’re doing your own thing!”
p. The second artist to perform that night was Edgar Allen Floe. A clear reference to the famous American writer and poet, Edgar Allen Poe, this hip-hop veteran wanted the audience to focus on the intensity and message of his songs.
p. “I’m very lyrical and thought-provoking. I don’t have a problem keeping things real,” he said.
p. And that’s what he did throughout the performance. A little bit harder than Median, EAF was passionate and fierce on each song, enticing the audience with deep vocals, skillful lyrics and repetitive hand movements.
p. Also known as Flow Almighty and Slicemysta, EAF is a longtime member of the Justus League — a group of hip-hop artists from North Carolina that banded together in 1999 — as well as another artists’ group, The Undefined. Now, at the age of 27, with a family and newly-born daughter, EAF has had a long history with hip-hop music and is attempting to become of the great emcees in hip-hop history.
p. One of the songs that he performed, “Please Don’t Stop,” delivered a strong ethos for his hustle. He’s a driven, lyrically sound artist with a lot to say.
p. “Finish college, get your masters, doctorate and complete your goals. Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it,” he said to the crowd.
p. Close to the end of his performance, DJ Gonzo tread into a slow-tempo, sentimental track, as EAF reminisced about his mother and her influence on his life. He brought SHHO’s president, Blair Smith ’11 to the stage, along with her mother, to express his gratitude for all hard-working mothers.
p. Before ending the night with his most well-known song, “The Righteous Way To Go,” he thanked the crowd for their good energy and feedback.
p. “Thank you,” DJ Gonzo said. “Thank you for taking the time to understand the lyrics.”
p. When the evening started to wind down, the crowd reached full capacity as SHHO saved the best for last — M1_Platoon. Consisting of Chopps, Scoop, Arafat Yates, Sean D, C4 Black, not to mention DJ Gonzo and other background members, this large group of guys, originally from Washington D.C. currently attend college at North Carolina Central. Their name originates from an idea that creatively came about by member Chopps.
p. “I was watchin’ the TV show ‘Murder One’ one day and started thinking about our group and how we lyrically murder our competition. And because we roll so deep, like a platoon, that’s where the name came about,” Chopps said.
p. One way to describe their performance is high-energy, but going deeper, these young talents bring versatility and insight to an evolving art form.
p. Each member took the stage, rocking all blends of hip hop style, from thick, Dwayne Wayne glasses and gold chains, to Aeropostale shirts and a fresh pair of sneakers.
p. “It’s straight hip-hop — D.C. slang and hip hop,” Yates said about their clothing style. “The way we dress, we dress like ’06 graduates; that’s our style. We flip American Eagle, Aeropostale, Hollister, etc.”
p. Their movement started in D.C., where Chopps and Yates grew up together, both part of a group called Six Man Contra. They went to high school with Sean D and all three decided to attend North Carolina Central University after discovering that big-name producer 9th Wonder would be teaching a class there. In college, they met up with C4 Black, Scoop and found DJ Gonzo at a DJ battle to complete the brotherhood.
p. “All their music is based on soul music and reggae, so it was easy to get on board,” DJ Gonzo said about joining the crew. “They understand more than just hip-hop and they really are in touch with their roots, so it was a natural fit.”
p. Their set was lively and fresh, delivering deadly hooks and sleek rhymes. Each song consisted of the same level of creativity, and they kept the interaction between the audience and themselves up to an all-night high.
p. The majority of the songs they performed came from their mixtape, “M1 Invasion,” a 24-track album, filled with animated hits and sharp lyrics.
p. For the song, “My Sneaks Is All That,” they quickly took off their shoes and raised them up to the crowd as C4 Black asked, “Who got some fly-ass sneakers?” — telling the audience to take off their shoes and rep their sneakers. The audience gladly followed suit, bobbing their heads to DJ Gonzo’s scratches, holding sneakers above their heads.
p. Altogether, M1_Platoon performed close to 15 tracks, ending with the last song off the mixtape, “We Came 2 Let Y’all Know,” a more relaxed, mid-tempo track.
p. “We haven’t been in here long enough,” Yates admits about being in the music industry. “But we still bring that raw shit, a new movement — just more hip-hop.”