‘Cutting-edge’ competition aims to find Rider’s best rapper

By Samantha Brandbergh

Although Rider currently holds an annual competition for singers, songwriters and performers, an entire genre will soon be in the spotlight.

Rider Rhymes, an event designed to find the university’s best rapper, will make its debut in the Cavalla Room on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.

According to Nick Barbati, assistant director of campus life, this event came about “organically.”

“It was a show that developed on how excited people were when [senior health crisis management major] Chris Patrick won R Factor,” he said. “As the event planners on campus, we realized we needed a formal outlet for these type of student performers.”

Whether it was a professionally shot video, a SoundCloud link or a video of the student rapping in their dorm room, student coordinators for the event, senior finance major Matthew Esposito and junior criminal justice major Brandon Harris, combed through the 20 audition tapes and audio files to select the top 10.

“We were looking for originality, flow, diction, lyrics, just overall content and vibe of the song,” Esposito said. “Through the people who sent us videos, we could tell how they would be when performing on stage and what kind of energy that person could bring.”

Promoted as “the ultimate rap battle,” Rider Rhymes will consist of two rounds. The first will showcase the 10 performers’ talent through an original song, and in the second, the top five, as chosen by the audience, will freestyle over a beat produced by student musicians on campus. The winner will be chosen by the audience through a text-to-vote service.

Barbati hopes that, through this event, students will be able to feel as though they experienced a “cutting-edge,” as opposed to “cookie-cutter,” program. The main stage will be set up in the center of the Cavalla Room rather than in the front, allowing the audience to be fully immersed in the performances. Throughout the night, the event will also showcase on-campus student DJs, who will be spinning records throughout the night.

For the past few years, Rider’s Fall Concert has been performed by rappers and hip-hop artists such as Big Sean, Travis Scott and, most recently, A$AP Ferg and Tinashe, making the genre prevalent not only on Rider’s campus, but on college campuses across the country.

Esposito said that since the world is moving in a hip-hop direction, college campuses are following suit.

“Rider’s music scene is a kind of small sample size of what the real world is like,” he said. “Rappers give a nice Friday night show and make it a real concert atmosphere.”

While this event is brand new on campus, Barbati is confident that students will walk away with a “sense of community.”

“One of the common threads from these events that are built around student performers is a real pride,” he said. “And [there is] such depth that pertains to the performers behind the music, and that makes it a satisfying experience.”


Published in the 2/7/18 edition

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