Amping up for Wale and K’naan

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April 9, 2010

12:49 AM

A perfect storm of epic musical proportions is speeding towards Williamsburg, combining two of the rising stars in hip-hop, 2,000 screaming fans and the College of William and Mary. The Wale and K’naan concert will take place tonight at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater. AMP will bring these hip-hop stars to the College as part of this year’s spring concert, and the campus is buzzing with excitement.

Wale and K’naan are two of the brightest up-and-comers in hip-hop. Wale recently released his first studio album, “Attention Deficit,” and was the Master of Ceremonies for MTV’s 2009 Video Music Awards. K’naan’s most recent album, “Troubadour,” was hailed by Billboard as “socially alert and frequently brilliant.” His single “Wavin’ Flag” was selected by Coca-Cola to be the official anthem of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Booking not just one of these big names, but two, marks a huge success for AMP.

“It reflects a lot of hard work from members of our Music Committee and we’re all extremely excited that we are able to bring such great music artists down to William and Mary,” AMP Director of Public Relations David Cooper ’10 said.

However, Cooper said that this spring concert does present a few unique challenges.

“One of our biggest concerns has been making sure everyone is aware of the concert’s start time, which is earlier than other concerts we’ve done in the past,” he said.

The concert will begin at 6 p.m., so AMP is working on a promotional item to be handed out to the first 500 attendees to encourage timely attendance.

Response from the campus community has been full of excitement and eager anticipation.

“It really shows to me that this isn’t some small ‘hole in the wall’ kind of school,” Caitlyn Darnell ’13 said. “We are big enough and important enough to attract such big names, and that we have an amazing AMP team who can pull it together. It’s really awesome that something this cool is being brought to Williamsburg.”

Lamar Shambley ’10, who co-founded the Student Hip-Hop Organization in 2007, said he is glad to see these artists coming to campus.

“It’s great to see hip-hop being headlined at the spring show,” he said. “I think that AMP has been doing an amazing job with bringing in diverse and quality artists to the College.”

Having such enthusiastic support from the campus community is what makes it all worthwhile for AMP’s members.

“The overwhelming positive response we’ve received has been great. Its made us feel wonderful,” Cooper said in an e-mail.

This is not the first time that the Matoaka Amphitheater has hosted a hip-hop concert. In April 2008, AMP brought the Ying Yang Twins to the lake, and in October 2008 The Cool Kids took the stage. While it may not be the first hip-hop concert here, it may promise to be the best. Shambley, who has been responsible for bringing many developing hip-hop acts to the College through SHHO, knows what makes a good college concert.

“I like to see artists who acknowledge the audience and know the crowd they’re performing for,” Shambley said. “Maybe if they knew a bit about our school. If anything, it’ll make the crowd more receptive.”

That is entirely possible for Wale, who grew up in Washington, D.C. and currently lives in Largo, Md. For him, Virginia is familiar territory.

“This is a homecoming for me,” he said at a recent concert in Richmond, Va. last April.

K’naan, who grew up in Mogadishu, Somalia, brings something completely different to the table. While many rappers brag about their rough upbringings, K’naan’s youth was spent ducking Somali pirates and rebel militias. His songs reflect these experiences, combining energy and intensity with impressive lyrical depth.

Though these two artists have come to us from continents apart, they’ll come together Friday night at Matoka for the highly anticipated concert at the College.

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