Soulstice gives an opportunity for talent of all kinds to show off on the stage of the Bren Events Center. So far, we’ve featured acts from the classic categories of A Capella and Solo/Duet — now, it’s time to talk about a category unique to Soulstice: Fusion.
Soulstice 2015 will be the second year of the Fusion category’s existence. It’s essentially the category for any talent act that falls outside of the more traditional categories. Last year’s Fusion category featured a spoken word artist and a Polynesian dancer, two acts that added variety and diversity to the show. This year, the Fusion category will host a pair of equally enthralling talent acts: Japanese drumming ensemble Jodaiko and, this week’s featured talent, rapper Dennis Han (known by stage name Guai Guai).
Han, originally from Santa Monica, is a fourth-year international studies major, with a pronounced regional focus on Asia. He’s quite involved on campus; he serves as a Generation Study Abroad Ambassador at the Study Abroad Center, as well as a driver for the Disability Service Center.
“That annoying kid in the bucket hat and ray bans driving the cart on Ring Road [and] blasting the siren for everyone to get out of the way … that’s me,” Han said.
But Han does a whole lot more than that; he’s a performer, crafting his art with elements of two different cultures. He truly embodies the Fusion category, finding harmony between his American and Chinese cultures in the form of rap music.
“It’s pretty much an expression of my emotions and outlook on what I’m going through (…) at the moment,” Han said of his act. “It’s me expressing my cross-cultural identity as an American-born Chinese.”
Han’s talents and interests lie in the realm of hip-hop and R&B, and also finds inspiration in Taiwanese rap. He is always striving to bring positivity and significance to his performance.
“I see the stage as more than just a space for spitting out my lyrics, but more as a powerful outlet where I can bring to life an idea, a story, whatever it is that inspired me to write those bars,” Han said. “(I want to) really just act it out and allow the audience to understand where I’m coming from.”
This performative quality comes through in his music; Han’s raps incorporate both English and Chinese, making for a very compelling and refreshing listen. His act will be the first full rap performance Soulstice has seen — but it won’t be his first time performing at the Bren. Han served as a member of the Soulstice League, the show’s emcee team, in 2013. He was inspired to get involved with the show after watching the first ever Soulstice in 2012.
“My friend Rani and I looked at each other after the show and said, ‘We’ve got to be part of the League, they look like they’re having so much fun,’” Han said. “I’m dying to find out what kind of new videos and skits the League has in store. After all, that’s how I fell in love with Soulstice to begin with.”
Han is thrilled for his return to the stage, this time as a performer. He’s most excited for the exposure to a larger audience than he’s used to.
“This is by far the most people I will have ever performed for, so I hope they like it,” Han said. “If not, well … I tried.”
There’s no doubt that Han will be bringing his best to Soulstice; his act is very influenced by his placement in the Fusion category.
“I took into consideration the factor of whether I’ll be rapping in Chinese or English. The answer is … it’s a surprise,” Han said about his Soulstice performance. “Come to find out!”
You can catch Dennis Han, as well as tons of other UCI talent acts, at Soulstice, on Feb. 12!