Hip Hop Congress and ASUCI Make You Feel That Way With Blackalicious

Hip Hop Congress, in collaboration with Associated Students of UC Irvine, turned Crawford Hall into a platform for artistic expression on Thursday, March 1, covering all elements of hip hop. The event, ‘Make You Feel That Way,’ featured a b-boy battle, the hip hop group Figures of Speech, legendary DJ Pete Rock and the always-innovative Blackalicious. All of these performances were surrounded by the underground artwork of students and local artists.
Figures of Speech opened the show with an entertaining set, although they went on at the very start of the event and the crowd was considerably smaller than it was later on that night. The group performed a diverse set of songs with some great beats.
Local artist Damet had a booth promoting eVocal, which stands for ‘Voice of the Creative Arts Lifestyle.’ His group has a boutique in Costa Mesa, where they create and sell everything from jewelry to home furnishings.
Damet explained that these events are important to the community to break stereotypes about hip hop and its followers. ‘It helps the way hip hop is portrayed. What they are putting on the radio is what people are going by, and [the hip hop community] looks bad. We need stuff like this. This is the foundation. … This is our lifestyle.’
Two hours after the event started, the b-boy battle was skillfully spun by influential hip-hop producer, DJ and rapper Pete Rock. It showcased six teams of two b-boys each. The dancers represented several hip hop teams around Southern California, such as Kaba Modern, Team Millennia and the UCI Break Dance Club, but it was the Placebo Crew who won the $500 prize.
The judges of the battle included, among others, ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ participant Ryan Conferido and respected b-boy L10.
‘[The event] is cool. It opens up eyes,’ L10 said. ‘But you can’t really show someone hip hop, you know what I mean? You won’t really know what hip hop is until you live it.’
After the b-boy battle and much anticipation, Blackalicious (a duo made up of rapper The Gift of Gab and DJ Chief Xcel) performed right on time and did not disappoint. The Gift of Gab opened the show with the awe-inspiring ‘Alphabet Aerobics,’ rapping all the way from ‘amateurs’ to ‘zealots.’
The Gift of Gab was definitely a crowd pleaser, keeping the audience involved throughout the show. However, it was nice to see a show where the rapper didn’t completely steal the spotlight