Spoken Word, Poetry, and Hip Hop Night

Photo edited by Jack Wang

Written by Levi Jubelt. Media by Jack Wang.[divide]

The Blackroom held its second Open Mic Night of the semester on March 3. Ben Barber was the MC, master of ceremonies of the evening with PeteSnacks as the house DJ. The stage was open to all spoken word, poetry, and hip hop artists who wanted to show off their work. Some performed to express themselves with some serious art while others performed just to have a good time. Each artist displayed their hard work, dedication, and talent when they took the stage.

Jonathan Barker performing. Photo by Jack Wang.
Jonathan Barker performing. Photo by Jack Wang.

In the hip hop category, there were several artists performing original work. Rapper Jonathan Barker performed his song Unselfish with a custom beat based off of Lupe Fiasco’s Old School Love. When asked about his song’s background Barker explained, “My song Unselfish was about a learning experience I had with dating. It was sort of a follow-up to my last appearance where I did a spoken word piece called Dating Game. I was happy to have the opportunity to perform it. I appreciate the Blackroom showing respect by acknowledging GC students that appreciate hip hop as much as I do. It was great to see so many people show up!” Barker has a collection of work on SoundCloud that you can check out here.

Quinn Johnston, Vandes Jackson, Urri Thames, Darryl Seala, and Isaiah Smith performed a song they named The Concept, which consisted of a soft and mellow rap along with a sexy saxophone part. Jonathan Raffa and company also performed a delightfully upbeat original song titled Anchor that you can check out here.

Jonathan Raffa performing. Photo by Jack Wang.
Jonathan Raffa performing. Photo by Jack Wang.

Beth Watkins and LaRyssa Herrington were highlights of the evening in the poetry and spoken word categories. Watkins read an original poem expressing a personal part of her life. When asked about her thoughts on the poem Watkins responded, “A lot has changed since I wrote the poem that I performed. But I still like to perform it because I think a lot of people can still connect to it. It’s also a look back at where I’ve been, and a reminder of how much people can change if you give them time.” Watkins is currently in the process of writing a follow up to this poem looking at where she was when she wrote it and where she is now.

Herrington also read an original poem unofficially titled Panda. When asked what the inspiration for the poem was and how she felt about it Herrington responded, “There were two women faculty members there [Chicago Leadership and Diversity Conference] that did Spoken Word about their struggles with being black women in America and the oppression present in the black community. After hearing them speak, I was inspired to write a piece just like that. A piece that explored my racial journeys as not a black woman, but a bi-racial one… I definitely had to come back to it several times and really examine what I wanted to say because I wanted to be as honest as possible while also staying true to my experiences and what was true.” With this in mind, it is easy to see how Herrington was able to recite her poem with such emotion.

Beth Watkins performing. Photo by Jack Wang.
Beth Watkins performing. Photo by Jack Wang.

Whether its hip hop, poetry, or full bands, Open Mic Nights at the Blackroom are always a good time. You can see aspiring artists strut their stuff or discover people who have hidden talents inside them. Whatever the case, this event is well worth going to and if you want to experience some of the best talent tucked away at G.C., then make sure to be on the lookout for the next one.


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