Hollapalooza @ Copaken Stage, Kansas City

After listening to everybody singing that obnoxious Soulja Boy song and getting over the shock of seeing little kids dancing to the inappropriate lyrics, I must admit, that I’ve been a little leery of modern hip hop. However, when PopWreckoning’s very own Ace Fadal suggested attending a showcase featuring Kansas City’s hip hop scene, I decided to give hip hop another chance and I am really glad I did.

I arrived at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s Copaken Stage not really knowing what to expect and consequently I was really pleasantly surprised by all the cool things happening at Hollapalooza. The purpose of the showcase was to promote a new hip hop musical Clay and to represent the four aspects of hip hop: graffiti, djing, b-boying and emceeing. Hollapalooza pulled this off in an inventive way that kept the audience involved. This wasn’t your usual concert because you didn’t just get to listen to hip hop, but you truly experienced it. The audience was completely immersed in hip hop.

Breakdown of the Four Aspects:
Graffiti: The stage was set up so that there were four easels along the back wall where four artists, in a demonstration of graffiti, were painting pieces representing the four aspects. One of the artists even pulled double duty and took a break from his b-boy painting to perform under his moniker Lucid. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the showcase because it was completely unexpected and it was really fun to watch the pieces develop throughout the day.

DJ/Turntablism: In between the rappers and sometimes in concurrence, DJs would set up on one of the two tables on either side of the stage. They had a difficult task because their sets could go one of two ways: they could end up as just background music as the audience took a little break due, as the day was quite lengthy, or they could end up starting a big dance party. The truly successful DJs like Sike Style had members of the crowd hopping up to center stage. During Sike Style’s set, a group of guys even started a back and forth freestyling rap off.

B-boying: This was the coolest aspect to see come together. While the stage was prepared for it, there wasn’t a set performance planned. It was audience dependent, so it was really cool to see members of the crowd hop up on stage and start dancing. Skill levels ranged, but everybody was really supportive of the other dancers. I was especially impressed by this guy in the purple pants who adapted to the DJs changing beats really well. Another person who impressed me was this little kid (under the age of ten) who hopped up there with all the older guys to show them how it should be done.

Emceeing/Rapping: This was the aspect of hip hop I think most are familiar with and it was the only aspect I had expected to see. It was also the aspect I was most nervous of because the lyrics of these can range from really vulgar sexual references like the aforementioned Soulja Boy song to actually having lyrics with deeper meanings. I must say I was quite impressed with the lyrics I heard from these rappers. On occasion, a performer would curse prompting an audience member to shout out, “There are little kids in here!” but for the most part, the performers were really good and had lyrics talking about things that deal with in their day to day lives. They all had really great audience interaction that had some of them like Kloudi out in the seats or a sing along like Milkdrop‘s and Reach‘s duet, “If the soul keeps rocking, the streets will keep rocking.” Milkdrop was probably one of my favorite sets and he had it right when he rapped a capella style, “I’m a hard act to follow.”

Overall, this was a really impressive day that surpassed all my expectations. If you live in the KC area I strongly recommend checking out Clay, the musical in which this was produced in conjunction. Clay hits the Copaken stage September 6-28, 2008.

KC Repertory Theatre: website | Hollapalooza | Clay | buy tickets for Clay

Written by: Bethany

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you for not giving up on hip hop and joining us to experience everything on Saturday. I’m glad that you enjoyed yourself, and thank you as well for the kind words. Hope to see you out and about in the future.

    peace.

  2. Awesome point of view…i am glad someone was paying attention.
    thanks!

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