Today: Apr 21, 2024

Southern performs hip hop for Haiti


Stephanie Paulino

Staff Writer

Expecting rain on Wednesday, the coordinators of the fourth installment in a series of hip-hop inspired concerts, “Hip-Hop IV: Hope 4 Haiti,” had already arranged to move the outdoor concert indoors in the case of unfavorable weather, according to Cindy Sanders, Schwartz Hall director.

When heavy winds hit the area instead, senior and Schwartz Hall community advisor Frank Brady, the concert’s founder, brought the show back to its original location: Wilkinson Hall. This year, the concert was held in Wilkinson Hall’s basement.

“At 3 o’clock we decided to move it last minute,” said Sanders. “When (Brady) did Part I in 2007 it was in Wilkinson’s lobby—I was the hall director.”

The concert featured local rappers, a break dancing competition a hip-hop/soul group called The Crowd and award-winning Haitian-American spoken word poet, Carvens Lissaint.

Brady, vice president of the Black Student Union (BSU), said he has had help from different campus organizations as well as the different residence halls that he has been on staff with since 2007’s Hip-Hop I: The History of the Hype, in which he started to educate students on the history of hip-hop.

“I saw the state of the music industry and realized that students only knew a small part of it, or what the industry tells them,” said Brady.

This year, the concert’s sponsors included the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC), BSU and Schwartz Hall, who designated “Hip-Hop” as its hall program for the semester.

Schwartz Hall staff collected donations of clothes, shoes and non-perishable food to be donated to Haiti via Operation Haiti, a non-profit organization run by Kingdom Life Christian Church in Milford. The church has already sent out two shipments since the earthquake, said Sanders.

Fried plantains, yams, baked chicken and baked pork —traditional Haitian food— were served at this year’s event.

Brady, a senior communications major, said about 100 students attended this year’s concert, which is fewer than in previous years. Still, he was happy about the amount of donations that were received for Haiti and is glad students had the chance to learn more about the country.

“It’s a good last chapter unless someone will continue it after I’m gone,” said Brady.

Katie Zold, a community advisor for Schwartz Hall, said the concert exposed hip-hop in all its forms to people who are only familiar with the genre’s more mainstream music.

“It’s not just the surface level, there’s an underground following,” said Zold, who is the general manager of WSIN Radio Station.

Lissaint performed three original spoken word poems, including one he wrote while visiting Haiti a year before the devastating earthquake hit the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

“No matter what they tell you, earthquakes can’t shake us,” said Lissaint, at the end of his poem.

Lissaint, 20, said the last line was added after the tragedy. Throughout the poem, however, he said he makes other allusions to earthquakes, including a line about “tectonic plates,” which have earned him the title of a “Haitian prophecy” among friends.

“To be honest, it’s a little scary,” said Lissaint. ”I’m a very spiritual person.”

Lissaint said he remained hopeful of the current state of his native country.

“Even though the earthquake hit us,” said Lissaint, “I think there are a lot of beautiful things to come.”

Jasmine Gear, a freshman biology major, said “Hope for Haiti” was the first Haiti benefit program she has
attended all semester. She said the music was “amazing.”

“The poet was really deep,” said Gear. “He had people crying, and The Crowd was really good as well.”

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