Hip-hop’s 50th anniversary celebrated through dance

Stephen Gilson Jr.
Calendar Editor

Chaffey College presented its Fifth Annual Hip-Hop Studies Summit in celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, where Black artists, students and the dance team performed various poems, songs and dances for guests March 1. 

Due to the weather, the block party thrown at the end of the summit was moved indoors to the Center of the Arts “A” building auditorium. Roughly 70 people attended the festivities at the end of the three-day summit. 

“Although I listen to more oldies-style music like Jimi Hendrix, I really enjoy hip-hop as a genre,” event volunteer Josue Vazquez-Manriquez said. “Specifically, I enjoy artists like Drake, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar.”

During the block party, a mix of different performers came out to showcase their talents. David “Judah 1” Oliver, co-host and founder of LionLike Mindstate Poetry at the Fairplex in Pomona, kicked off the night with a self-written poem that talked about his experience and the power he holds as a Black man.

After a few performances from Chaffey students and a tap dancer, Connie “Yung Miss” Clark hopped on the mic to show off her lyrical prowess. However, before she got to perform, a technical difficulty forced her to entertain the crowd with a freestyle. Inland Empire native and former Chaffey College student Jamil Azi Radney, also known as DJ Calligraphy, came in to assist Clark with the beat.

While Clark went off to assist in fixing the difficulty after her freestyle, Los Angeles-based dance group Versa-Style filled the gap with a stellar performance to songs from artists like 50 Cent and House of Pain. Several Latinx and black performers grooved to the thunderous bass and high-tempo drums and put on a phenomenal show for the crowd, despite the circumstances. 

To cap off the evening of performances, Inland Empire artist Noa James stepped on the stage and performed some of his music. While he talked about the impact of his grandmother in his music and his relationship with his wife of 19 years, the flow he writes within his music evoked the energy of influential California rapper E-40, while having the grit and passion in his voice similar to New York artist DMX. 

One line in particular showed off his talent in writing his music. While talking about the importance of self love and confidence, he raps “I bet on myself, just like that boy Pete Rose.” Pete Rose, all-time hits leader in the MLB, is permanently ineligible for the Hall of Fame due to placing bets on his own team. 

The genre of hip hop holds a special place deep in a lot of people’s hearts. For one organizer, he had the privilege of experiencing hip hop in its infancy. 

“I remember in the late ’70s, the Sugar Hill Gang had just come out,” Chaffey College Umoja Program Co-Coordinator and Professor of English Charles Williams said. “This kid brought a record of the album, the physical record. We all thought he was the coolest kid for that.”

For the younger generations, modern day hip-hop allows black artists to express themselves and to connect with their community.

“I feel like hip-hop is for Black people to express themselves and be themselves,” Kendale Duham, summit participant, said. “Black people don’t really get to express themselves, so we use hip hop to do just that. It’s music for the people by the people.” 

Stephen Gilson Jr. can be reached at stephen.gilson@laverne.edu.

Stephen Gilson Jr. is a sophomore journalism major with a concentration in broadcast journalism. He played baseball and football in high school and is an avid sports enthusiast.

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