Arts: Rap, rhymes and rhythm reign supreme at UCC Hip-Hop Takeover

Creativity, collaboration and community unite

Videography: Jason Keane / Photography: Clare Keogh                                                                                                          Union Black performers strike a pose.

“It’s important to just create.”

These were the simple but powerful words of Irish hip-hop performer Ophelia MC, as she addressed the audience at a discussion on hip-hop politics at UCC this month.

The discussion formed part of the UCC Hip-Hop Takeover, a day-long celebration of hip-hop arts, organised by UCC Creative and Cork Midsummer Festival.

Creativity was certainly at the heart of the festivities on June 16, as performers from all over Ireland and beyond gathered to celebrate hip-hop art, collaboration and community.

The cream of young rap, dance and musical talent took over UCC’s amphitheatre, with Red FM’s Stevie G hosting an exciting mix of street performance at the free, open-air event.

The event kicked off with a series of freestyle rap and music performances from the next generation of Irish hip-hop artists, from The Kabin Studio/Music Generation Cork City. They were later joined by rappers including Outsider YP and Ophelia, who performed live raps as young dancers from the Rhythm Rebels entertained the crowd with freestyle breakdancing.

The final dance performance of the day was delivered by Ireland’s Got Talent 2018 champions Billie-Jeans RDC, who performed an exhilarating hip-hop extravaganza.

The day’s events were specially chosen to capture the so-called ‘four elements’ of hip-hop – Djing, rapping, B-Boy and B-Girl dance, and graffiti art (cleverly incorporated through a Facebook Live check-in with Cork City’s Graffiti Jam). A series of discussion panels, supported by the British Council, represented a fifth element – street knowledge.

Stevie G moderated Panel 1, From the Block to the Border: Hip-Hop Politics, featuring a lively discussion on hip-hop’s role in the community. UCC was represented on the panel by Dr Karl Kitching (Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), Dr Eileen Hogan (Lecturer in Applied Social Studies), and Dr J. Griffith Rollefson (Lecturer in Popular Music Studies).

Union Black, a unique and innovative circus-theatre production, was the subject of Panel 2, The Future of Circus and Dance. Here, moderator Jools Gilson (Head of UCC School of Music and Theatre) discussed the common ground between hip-hop, circus performance and soccer in the Union Black show, alongside dance curator Nedjma Hadj, artistic director Rachel Clare, and performer Matteusz Szczerek.

Union Black artists Alex Allison and Davi Hora had already put their skills on display earlier in the day, at a free juggling and movement workshop.

Check out the video below to get a flavour of the event and Ireland's burgeoning hip-hop talent.


For more information on UCC’s School of Music and Theatre, simply follow this link.

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