By Zackery Quigley
The Thompson Lawn was host to Wolf Pack Radio’s first ever hip-hop showcase on Saturday. About 40 students gathered to support some of the more notable rappers in Reno. The event featured local artists Wavy Blade Boiz, Rickie B., Ronnie Mac and Black Rock City Allstars as they spat rhymes for the crowd.
The Wavy Blade Boiz stumbled onto the stage as the night’s first act. DJ Tyler Thompsen was stagnant as he performed his set, never deviating from his one spot on stage. MC Trippy Dave executed his lyrics with confidence, but still managed to sound lethargic. The Wavy Blade Boiz performance was lacking in energy, though they did remain free of any technical difficulties. Though their performance went off without a hitch, it was definitely a slow start for the showcase.
However, the slow start was not an indicator for the event as a whole. Once it was time for Rickie B. to take the stage, the crowd bobbed their heads to his music. B. had no problem connecting with the crowd. Through his lyrics and performance style, the artist demonstrated his solid execution of lyrics and steady flow. B.’s original beats are representative of contemporary rap, but managed to add a fresh twist to it, much like his song “Fear Up in Yo Eyes.”
Ronnie Mac, the third rapper of the night, cruised onto the platform with that certain swagger that most rappers aspire to. “Das fat Mac,” Ronnie Mac yelled as he was honing in on his performance skills. Mac’s performance was a standout, with the fastest rapping out of any of the night’s performers. Many audience members ended their night there, but there was still one hip-hop collective left to perform.
Black Rock City Allstars had the most energetic show of the night. Members of the group gyrated, involved the audience in their performance with call and response and incorporated elements of funk music into their rap. Part of their performance featured a belly dancer that whipped out a sword and brought the audience’s swaying attention back to the stage. The dancer was a shocking addition to the final performance. After all, nothing says hip-hop quite like a belly dancer dangling a sword.
The actual performances given by artists was only one part of the event. According to Tom Snider, Wolf Pack Radio station manager, the event was intended to facilitate the creation of a larger fan base for Reno hip-hop artists.
According to Snider, the Holland Project has only had about one or two successful hip-hop shows in the past five years. Snider indicated that local venues struggle getting people to come out to hip-hop shows. Wolf Pack Radio’s goal was to bolster the local hip-hop scene in a way that other local venues such as the Holland Project have been struggling to do.
“[There] was going to be this big show at the Holland Project and there was only 10 people that showed up,” Snider said. “So we’re hoping to have more success with this hip-hop show being that it’s local, free and on campus.”
Snider met his goal of about 40 attendees, making it a success in his book. Though it isn’t the first concert that Wolf Pack Radio show has held, it was the first showcase of its kind. As with most first times, things got off to a rocky start, with the show beginning half an hour after it was supposed to begin.
“We had a hiccup in the beginning about where the stage was going,” he said. “But we worked everything out and everything was smooth.”
Events such as these can be a good way to promote aspiring Kiara Brisker, one of the performers in Black Rock City Allstars and WPR’s hip-hop director. Brisker was the brains of the operation, according to Snider.
“I look out for my friends who are making music,” Brisker said. “It’s what inspired me to throw this [event]. I’m all about positivity. When people like my music, it’s really inspiring, it’s so dope.”
Brisker said that the local artists featured in the showcase consider themselves deeper than what is found in mainstream hip-hop. Even though the event was off to a rough start, the performers and organizers were able to pull together a successful show, all in hopes that the community will be able to delve into the hip-hop scene right in their backyard.
Zackery Quigley can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @thealexasolis