UCSD’s Underground Rap Battles: An Interview with Shots Fired

UCSDs Underground Rap Battles: An Interview with Shots Fired

Take a look at this week’s Billboard Hot 100. Admittedly, the public simply cannot get over blond female singers, boy bands and pale English singer-songwriter-musicians. But it takes just one scroll down the Hot 100 to see a radically different picture. While the top 10 are predominantly pop, hip-hop artists occupy the majority of positions in the 10 to 25 range. Over the years, hip-hop has undeniably been inducted under the large umbrella of pop music. In fact, it is almost impossible for these hip-hop artists to stay underground when the speed of the music industry accelerates all talent until it overcomes the force of gravity and goes up into sky, where a “star” belongs — that is, until it falls.

For the last 15 years, hip-hop culture has changed our perception of many things: how a rich person should act, how an attractive woman looks and how to go zero to a hundred real quick. But all these social changes aside, popularization of hip-hop largely gave rise to a wave of nostalgia for some good old underground. One consequence of these reminiscent feelings is the revival of underground rap battles: rap competitions between two or more rappers who aim to put each other down in a rather sophisticated manner. Today, thousands of people are following rap battle leagues based in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Despite having numerous fans and famous partner brands, rap battles still manage to stay away from the mainstream hip-hop scene and are open to up-and-coming MC’s. Often times, to participate in your first battle, all you have to do is email a league, providing your personal information.

This is what Jose Gonzalez, a student at UCSD, once did.

In the world of hip-hop, he goes by “Gryffin” and is one of the co-founders of the UCSD battle league and club, Shots Fired. Even before coming to the university, he and his school friend Matt (“K Philosophy” a.k.a. “K” a.k.a. “The Christopher Columbus of Battle Rap” a.k.a. “Your Girl’s Favorite Rapper”) wanted to build a hip-hop community at UCSD. They got started right away during their first quarter in Fall 2013. Soon after their first rap battle, which gathered a crowd of 50 people, they met Johnny, G Code On and Gus, who now form the administrative body of the league — a truly intriguing clique. It is impossible not to notice how passionate they are about what they do. They all started differently — Matt (K Philosophy) wanted to prove to a kid from his high school that the guy couldn’t rap. Gerardo (G Code On) started rapping after doing a school project in hip-hop style. And Johnny started rapping because he wanted to do music, but never quite learned how to play an instrument . Now they are all united by hip-hop and a willingness to spread the culture.

When you first meet this group , you won’t believe that that they find joy in “dissing” each other with the most complex and insensitive rhymes. Exceptionally welcoming and easygoing, they make you want to join Shots Fired even if you don’t rap. In fact, that is the league’s main approach. As the crew often proclaims, you do not have to be a rapper to join the movement since it is currently expanding beyond battle rap. What Shots Fired wants is to become a strong community of freestylers, music producers, beatboxers, hip-hop dancers and hip-hop music lovers who are ready to go out there and show their talent and support to others.

“To join the movement is really simple,” emphasized K Philosophy. “All you gotta do is watch.” This sounds about right because watching what these guys do is not only entertaining (see the Youtube link below), but also passionately inspiring. At all battles and GBMs, the energy of this culture hits you like a wave and makes you want to write your own bars or rap to your favorite tracks out loud for your roommates to hears.

Open-minded but fierce, heated and aggressive during the battles but polite and outgoing at any other time, Shots Fired is not just a student org. It is a community that promotes hip-hop culture at its finest.

“Our door’s open to you, just walk in,” says K, and it is in fact that easy. No resume needed.


 

Facebook Page:www.facebook.com/ShotsFiredRap

Youtube:www.youtube.com/beenlightyearsahead

Twitter: @shotsfiredrap

 

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