Arts & Culture / Mosaic / Music / May 27, 2009

Dead Prez brings hip-hop to Knox

Hip hop performers Dead Prez brought a unique sound to campus last Saturday at an event hosted by WVKC and Union Board.

The event was originally intended to be much larger. According to senior and event coordinator Ryan Cash, Knox was hesitant to host the initially considered number of bands. Thirty to thirty-five artists including Mos Def were initially considered for an event that would have spanned two days. Regardless of the much smaller scope of the show, it was still a success.

“It was the most hip-hop thing I’ve ever experienced on this campus,” Cash said.

Inspired by hip-hop artist and producer J Dilla’s death from complications with Lupus, the hip-hop community has rallied around the promotion of research and awareness of the disease. Unfortunately, mentioned Cash, the Illinois chapter of the Lupus Awareness Foundation is located in Chicago and its message rarely reaches the southern part of the state.

The concert was an effort to increase awareness and fundraise for the foundation. Event organizers reached out to members of the Galesburg medical community as well as WVKC alumni. While $2,000 has been raised so far for Lupus research, Cash expects more donations in the near future.

Inclement weather moved the concert into Wallace Lounge. Originally scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. the change of locale pushed the start time back to 9:15 p.m. with DJ Cold Logistics warming up the crowd. The 18-year-old DJ, from Maine, invited Knox students up to the stage to freestyle.

“For that 20 minutes, people stopped caring whether or not they were making fools of themselves,” said Cash. He said of the event as a whole, “It got people to dance and not care about what they look like or what the person next to them is thinking about and just have fun.”

The walls in Wallace Lounge were sweating along with the crowd, but even the heat could not defer the audience’s enthusiasm.

“I was excited for Wallace Lounge,” said Cash, adding the more intimate environment allowed concertgoers to experience the band in a different way.

Artist Nelson began the concert with some technical difficulties from which he gracefully recovered, freestyling to fill the time.

When Dead Prez took the stage, the crowd became dangerously enthusiastic. As they performed such songs as “I’m a Afrikan,” “Hell Yeah, “Turn Off the Radio,” “I’m Tired of Strugglin’,” and “Hip-Hop” the stage lights jostled precariously eliciting a warning from Dead Prez to the audience.

According to Ryan Cash, hip-hop artists are normally surprised at the energy and zeal of the Knox audience.

“Here’s these two radical black dudes surrounded by white kids goin’ crazy,” laughed Cash, amazed at the connective power of music. Cash contacted Dead Prez through Bakari Kitwana, a recent speaker at Knox. In pulling together the event, Cash found help and support from Union Board, Dean Xavier Romano, the Campus Life Office, and the entire WVKC staff.

Though Cash is graduating at the end of this year, he hopes to assist WVKC as an alum, contacting and arranging for even more artists to visit the school.

Sarah Colangelo

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