Ghostface at the Bren

Hip Hop Congress in collaboration with the Associated Students of UC Irvine brought some hip-hop culture to the Bren Events Center on Friday, May 19 by hosting a Ghostface Killah concert, featuring One Be Lo, Trek Life, Supernatural and a B-Boy exhibition. The concert was free for UC Irvine students and $10 for non-UCI students.
‘The idea [for the concert] started out last year, but for it to work out this year we had the support of ASUCI,’ said Steven Ma, a fourth-year chemistry and Spanish double major. Ma organized the B-Boy exhibition that opened the show. ‘We worked really hard these past couple weeks promoting and talking to hundreds of people in anticipation that everything would work out.’
T. Anh Nguyen-Tu, the chapterhead for UCI’s Hip Hop Congress and a fourth-year cognitive psychology major, also emphasized how hard the organization worked in order for the show to be a success. ‘We worked really hard to keep everything under wraps. We didn’t know [what artists] we were going to bring until a week or two before the actual show,’ Nguyen-Tu said.
She also explained the importance of Hip Hop Congress’s goal of exposing the UCI community to hip hop culture. ‘It gives UCI a more diversified campus,’ she said. ‘[This concert helps to] break the bubble that Irvine has because it’s open to the community and free for UCI students. We tried to appeal to the students and bring out a large base from the campus.’
The event itself started strong, with B-Boys representing different crews opening the show. One Be Lo performed a short set before guest-judging the emcee battle. Trek Life kept the crowd hyped by officiating the competition.
Following the emcee battle, Trek Life did a couple tracks with some hot beats even though at this point the crowd was growing cold. Had his performance been earlier in the set, the audience might have been more energetic.
Afterward, there was a two-hour lull in which Hip Hop Congress tried to soothe the crowd by throwing out posters, T-shirts, vinyls and even water bottles. Not long afterward empty water bottles flew into the air back onto the stage.
Finally, Supernatural took the stage around 10:15 p.m. and woke the crowd up with his amazing freestyling skills. Especially impressive was his ‘freestyle obstacle course’ in which he asked the audience to take out random objects from their pockets. He then walked across the front row, incorporating each arbitrary item into his rap as it touched his hand.
Fourth-year computer engineering major Chris Guitarte said that he enjoyed Supernatural’s performance even better than Ghostface’s. ‘Supernatural was definitely my favorite part,’ Guitarte said. ‘Everything was coming off of the top of his head, and his performance was a lot better [than Ghostface’s], which was not what I expected.’
Supernatural is a hard act to follow, but Ghostface Killah was able to pull off a decent show. The crowd’s energy was up and down, definitely favoring the older Wu Tang tracks, but songs off of his album ‘Fishscale’ like ‘Be Easy’ and ‘Back Like That’ had enough energy to keep the crowd interested.
About halfway through Ghostface’s set, he decided to ‘bring all the ladies’ onstage, and by all, he literally meant all. For the next 15 minutes the DJ spun some tracks while the guys in the audience watched Ghostface and his entourage dance with their girlfriends.
This definitely weakened the performance as a whole; it seemed like a stunt to either kill time or check out what UCI has to offer. But Ghostface ended strong with some more songs off of his album with girls onstage.
Guitarte recognized the inconsistency of energy in the crowd throughout the show. ‘It was a pretty good overall show, but it was kind of long,’ Guitarte said. ‘It lagged in between the different sets. I wish it could have been more compact and streamlined.’
Fourth-year sociology major Jenny Bisquera also enjoyed the show, but thought that the lack of energy was due to the venue. ‘I enjoyed the show. Mad props to Hip Hop Congress for doing what they’re doing,’ Bisquera said. ‘But I liked [the shows] better when they were at the terrace, because they had the graffiti art out there and everything. Because [the Bren Events Center] is such a big venue, there’s a lot of open space and it’s not as intimate.’
Overall, the night was a success despite the crowd’s fluctuating energy.
‘[Events like these] don’t happen too much at UCI. There’s not a huge hip-hop community in itself here,’ Ma explained. ‘So Hip Hop Congress [tries] to fill that void.’