By UPMA KAPOOR
You would have expected the Great Hall to have been full beyond capacity on Saturday for the performance of Joey Bada$$, who recently performed on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” with The Roots. The line that stretched far before doors opened, the tight security fit for airport standards and a $10 admission charge for non-University of Mary Washington students set a tone of success for the Student Hip-Hop Organization’s evening. Although the event was well attended, it fell short on the arrangement and appeal of acts.
Anhayla, a Richmond native whose sound crossed between R&B and soul, was a last-minute addition, opening the show. Introduced as “the beautiful, the talented Anhayla,” she performed a handful of originals that are featured on her new mixed tape, which released earlier this fall. With bold sounds and a commanding stage presence, Anhayla made the rest of the evening seem promising.
Following Anhayla was rapper Nickelus F., another Richmond native, who was featured on Drake’s mixed tape, “Room for Improvement.” He introduced himself to the audience as “‘Nickel’ like the quarter, ‘F’ like the letter.”
When asked how she would summarize Nickelus F.’s performance, Ria Firth, sophomore and anthropology major, said that “his lyrics were basically about picking up women and doing drugs.”
When Nickelus F. uttered something clever, he covered it with a line about snorting pills or sexualizing mayonnaise.
While Firth stated that she is open-minded, she also believed “there is so much more [in hip-hop],” when it comes to subject matter.
Before Joey Bada$$ could even cross the stage, half the audience exited the Great Hall in disappointment, while the remaining individuals watched the rapper’s crew try to hype up the audience.
Junior and economics major Tyler Sohn left the show early, saying that, “it took them too long,” and the first rapper preceding Bada$$ “was forgetting lines” consistently.
The audience was mildly energetic, but it was clear that Joey Bada$$ was not, performing barely half of his album, “1999,” and ending his set early because he was feeling “high and nauseous.”
The purpose of the Student Hip-Hop Organization is, according to their website, to encourage a “higher learning of hip-hop.” After witnessing the dimmed enthusiasm of the UMW student body and the underperformance of the performers, it is evident that this education may be needed now more than ever. The performers were clearly underwhelmed by audience support, and reciprocated accordingly with tiresome, shortened numbers.
What historically sets hip-hop shows apart from other genres is the immense audience participation in shout-out routines and energy. This was absent on Saturday, but perhaps it’s a sign that SHHO may need to reacquaint UMW with more hip-hop shows.