By Cassandra Stathis
The words “Rider Rhymes” decorated the walls, the music shook the floor and the stage stole the center of the room with chairs surrounding it. Students and staff continued to fill the room as extra rows of chairs were added.
The event consisted of three rounds. In the first round, each artist sang an original piece that they wrote. In the second round, the artists had to freestyle to a beat chosen by one of the judges. For the final round, the artists had to rap to a random beat of a popular song that they chose from a bowl filled with slips of paper.
Sophomore psychology major James Green, one of the hosts of the event, spoke about the battle.
“It has always been a way for local and upcoming artists just to go out there, have fun and showcase their talent. It is an opportunity for them to develop and improve as well, considering that they have all eyes on them.”
The moments where the crowd’s reactions had an immediate shift towards an artist or a lyric they had sung was one of James’ favorite moments.
“The reactions also had the ability to form discussions amongst each other,” said Green.
This is Rider Rhymes’ third year, and James said that he has seen positive changes over the years.
“More people, both audience and contestants, are getting involved as time goes on,” said Green.
Rider Rhymes’ contestants showed their individuality through their stylish nicknames, music and dance. Patrice Ri’Kay, otherwise known as senior musical theater major Patrice Hrabowskie, stunned the crowd with her operatic vocals, providing a unique sound to the battle.
Senior marketing major Schron Blanchard, another performing artist, spoke about the nickname he goes by.
“My brother Irvin said I should just call myself ‘Next-G.’ I liked it and it kind of stuck,” he said. As an artist, Blanchard wanted to “represent a love for the craft and the artwork itself.”
Through the first round, students sat and made small remarks of approval and disapproval towards each artist and their lyrics. The energy in the room turned all the way up when last year’s Rider Rhymes winner, sophomore theater major Cymere Nobles, came up onto the stage.
The crowd immediately stood up from their seats and started yelling and cheering. He said “The two things I focused on the most were my breath control and how I was going to engage the audience,” to make himself feel more comfortable on the stage.
Nobles had also worked hard to prepare himself for the competition.
“Over winter break I actually began working on different abstract ideas for my performance,” he said. “However, I began to feel discouraged because I felt like I was not living up to my potential.”
Nobles also spoke on his continuous source of inspiration. He explained that there are two sides to himself and his music is essentially the bridge that connects them both.
“I believe the inspiration from both sides of myself bleeds through my art,” he said.
In the second round, a crowd favorite, the artists poked at each other and created rap battles between one another. The crowd was screaming and cheering for their favorite artists. The competing artists continued to give it their all in the final round.
While the second round was highly competitive, the mood and energy for the third and final round were more light-hearted and humorous.
Even with a very large and vocal crowd, Blanchard explained, “It’s a lot of fun, definitely intimidating though.”
“I was nervous before I performed, but once I touched the stage all of the nerves went away,” said Nobles.
Nobles has a clear vision of how he wants to portray himself as an artist.
“The least I can do is be the most authentic version of myself and hopefully inspire others to do the same,” he said.
Nobles proudly became Rider Rhyme’s first back-to-back champion. “I was prepared to give you guys a show,” he said.
Published in the 2/19/2020 issue of The Rider News.