Rap Rumble attracts great talent
Christian Mojica, right, 3rd-semester business major, vs DaJavon “JusDJ” White-Hall, left, communications major. JON KULAKOFSKY/The Daily Campus
Beats, rhythm, lyricism and creativity came to life in the Student Union Monday night-that's right: UConn's first rap battle, a joint effort by the newly formed group Poetic Release and SUBOG Fine & Performing Arts Committee.
Somewhere between 200 to 300 energetic people crowded in the North Lobby of the Student Union, bobbing their heads to the beats and cheering on their friends, colleagues and musical artists who took the stage.
"This is the first time we ever put anything together like this, and it was a great show," said President of Poetic Release Devin Samuels.
A total of 16 competitors faced each other one-on-one for two sets of sixteen bars (45 seconds) of freestyling in the first round. After each round, the number of competitors was cut in half-the winner moving on, the loser stepping down.
The winner of each round's battle was determined by a combination of both the crowd's reaction and the two judges' choices. The judges, Stephanie "Blaze" Blasnik and Zach Johnson, based their decisions based on four criteria: originality, creativity, crowd approval and delivery.
The level of difficulty cannot go unrecognized-each round brought with it a more difficult beat to fill the background. Round 1 consisted of more familiar and modern rap and hip-hop instrumentals; Round 2 brought a more old-school hip-hop vibe with more testing tempos; Round 3's competitors rapped over talented beatboxer "Mickey" of Poetic Release; Round 4 truly tested the final two competitors' freestyling abilities through raw a capella.
The fourth and final round came down to two highly deserving finalists-rap names "Master Mike" and "Mala Jones." By this time especially, the crowd was emotionally involved-their volume and energy had carried these two all the way to the end.
The winner, "Master" Mike Gerard, a fourth-year Allied Health major, was "on cloud nine"-the best kind of reward for his ability to continuously shock and deliver lyrical genius for over two hours. Gerard has been writing rhymes and lyrical hip-hop for over five years, but only started freestyling in February.
The runner-up, "Mala Jones," only started freestyling last summer, finding inspiration from artists such as Kanye West and Big Sean. However, more recently, he has found inspiration from his peers and fellow Poetic Release members. "Mala" needn't be disappointed with his loss-he received a very powerful response from the crowd.
"Mala" and "Master Mike" are friends, and rap together every Thursday when the group meets.
If you missed the event, fear not. The response and turnout was so impactful that Samuels said the group hopes to hold another rap battle in the spring.
"If not in the spring, we're definitely going to make it a yearly thing," said Samuels.
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