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Apr. 1, 2010 commemorates the start of a new era in UCI concert history. Following the likes of UC San Diego’s annual Sun God Festival, ASUCI presented its first ever paid concert, featuring The Cool Kids, B.o.B. and hip-hop legend Common at the Bren Events Center.

An innovative idea initiated by student services vice-president Kristin Oto, the concert is ostensibly a starting point for a new tradition of music and entertainment at UCI. More music events featuring a mix of up-and-coming as well as seasoned artists may continue to grace our campus.

This concert set an excellent precedent with its line-up.

A staple in the industry since the early ’90s, Common has been praised for his socially conscious rap and dizzying lyrical delivery. The Southside Chicago native predicted an “Obama-effect” on the hip-hop industry when Barack was elected in 2008, saying that having a Black president would force “rappers to become socially conscious.”

B.o.B., aka Bobby Ray, has been flooding the radio waves with his hit single “Nothing on You” featuring Bruno Mars. A Georgia native, B.o.B. boasts talents in rhyme, vocals and guitar, all of which were on full display at April 1st event.

The Cool Kids are a product of the Myspace craze – they have never released an album. While they’ve increased their fan base with online networking, their burgeoning success is also based on a foundation of danceable tracks with heavy beats. At the concert, the dynamic trio brought a constant energy to the stage, bringing fans onstage for serenades and delivering all of their hits with precision.

In proximity to the concert, we got a chance to talk to B.o.B., the youngest of the performers, about his roots, inspirations and upcoming album, “The Adventures of Bobby Ray.”

New University: So you’re relatively new to the industry. Could you introduce yourself to those who may not be familiar with your or your music?

B.O.B.: My name is B.o.B., I love phat vibrations and dope kicks [laughs]. I love to play acoustic guitar, I rap, I sing, play a little bit of piano, you know, a little bit to entertain the showroom [laughs]. I was born in Salem, MA, but I was raised in Dakota, GA.

NU: Who are some of the artists that inspire you and your music?

B.O.B.: I would have to say that right now, it’s about artists like Broken Bells, Erykah Badu…The XX, I’ve been checking them out, they’re pretty dope. I even like Matt and Kim, like in their video when they go streaking. But the thing is, they weren’t just streaking for the attention of being naked, but more to prove a point, about being free. Doesn’t mean that everyone has to walk around naked, but just to have that freedom to remove your clothing and be comfortable.

NU: Your debut album “The Adventures of Bobby Ray” drops later this month, and we’ve been hearing your single “Nothing on You” all over the radio. What can we expect from your first record?

B.O.B.: What can you expect? Expected the unexpected! [Laughs]. No really though, expect definitely a broad range of music, a little bit of aggression, little bit of anger, a little bit of excitement…a little bit of emotion…emo!

NU: Were you emo when you were making this album?

B.O.B.: Yeah. some of it, probably most of it.

NU: When you were making this album, what was inspiring you from your personal life?

B.O.B.: Just frustration from the music industry, learning about the music industry…learning different things. Understanding what the music industry is! This whole thing has been a christening, so that whole period really spawned what I’m going through right now.

NU: How would you describe the music [specifically hip-hop] industry right now? Especially from the perspective of a newcomer.

B.O.B.: I would describe it as…a return to what hip-hop used to be. A return to what hip-hop and music used to be.

NU: Which is…?

B.O.B.: Exciting! Unbelievable pandemonium.

NU: OK, so last question. I know you did a show at Purdue University, and you’re pretty young yourself. So coming to a campus like UCI, you’re performing for people in your own age group. How does that feel?

B.O.B.: It feels more connected. Definitely more connected. I can talk to them more ’cause I know what’s on their radar — cause that’s what on my radar.

The concert, starting at 7 p.m. and lasting nearly until midnight, was a treat to hip-hop and music fans alike. The show was definitely a UCI production: it was emceed by a member of the Hip-Hop Congress and featured two of UCI’s premiere dance crews, Kaba Modern and CADC.

A highlight of the night was a surprise visit from rapper Lupe Fiasco, who took the mic to give a more than proper introduction to headliner and friend Common. Once onstage, Common did not disappoint, bringing hits like “Go”, “Universal Mind Control”, and “I Used to Love H.E.R.”

The student-friendly ticket prices and wide array of artists have set the precedent for such future productions at our campus. This concert was a bit of a gamble by ASUCI’s student services, but it definitely paid off.

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