What: Music Madness: Hip-Hop Night
When: 7:30 pm, Thursday
Where: Coffman Union, Whole Music Club
Age: 18+ or University of Minnesota, Twin Cities UCard
On Thursday night, Alexander Amann, junior food science major and disc jockey for the electronic party rap group Cato and CFans, will be pitted against three other student rap groups, including the conscious rap group Flawed Logic and the experimental act Wealthy Relative, in a competition for the opening spot before the Spring Jam headliner.
Amann is cocky and unconcerned.
“We’re seasoned stage performers,” he said. “We can wow whoever is in front of us.”
Cato and CFans have made a name for themselves by opening for other acts, using their upbeat music to get crowds hyped for the headliner.
When he rattles off a litany of national acts that his group has shared a bill with, including Timeflies and Chris Webby, it’s clear that Cato and CFans consider the prize performance to be small beans.
“We’ve started to blow up,” he said. “We’re going everywhere.”
For other artists, like undeclared freshman Scottie Stankiewicz of the group Flawed Logic, the Spring Jam stage could be just the boost they’ve been looking for.
“A spot opening for the headliner ... I don’t want to waste this opportunity,” he said.
Flawed Logic is writing four brand new songs just for the show. Stankiewicz has already scoped out the competition and likes his group’s odds.
“This guy, Cato … he’s alright,” he said. “But I think we have a good shot.”
Flawed Logic offers a stark contrast to Cato and CFans. While the latter has electronic beats driven with dubstep basses on top of basic drum rhythms, Stankiewicz’s group prefers to layer rhymes on piano-centric tracks and samples. Cato offers a carefree party style; Flawed Logic fancy themselves as a little more highbrow.
“It’s more intellectual than the average rap. We talk about some deeper, wiser stuff,” Stankiewicz said. “It’s about gaining courage and standing up to adversity.”
Adding another dimension to the battle is Wealthy Relative, brainchild of graphic design junior Dan Forke, which offers a more abstract take on hip-hop.
“Certain things I say might not make sense because they’re really obscure references to things I’m in to,” he said.
Forke’s beats also contain some unconventional references, including samples from Hayao Miyazaki’s anime films like “Spirited Away.”
In direct contrast Amann’s Facebook fan page, which claims that he “makes your booty shake,” Forke spits the line “I don’t really wanna see you make your booty work / I’d rather hear you talk about the purpose of this puny earth.”
Rounding out the event is newcomer Duke the Fluke. While most of the acts have been rapping since high school, junior communications and philosophy student Austin Duket just started last year. This performance will be his first. While Duket doesn’t like to brag in his music, he also doesn’t consider it to be intellectual.
“I like to think that my rap is more relatable to the average person,” he said. “I’m pretty real with myself.”
Although there can only be one winner for the night, the crowning of a victor isn’t the focus of the event.
“It’s a way to find out about more student bands,” said organizer Trevor Cotter. “That’s why we’re doing it and hope to continue it as a consistent series.”
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