Pulsing bass, hula hoop dancers and the clamor of 200 students ready to listen to hip-hop filled Chumash Auditorium Saturday night. Industrial engineering senior Logan Kregness took the mic.
“When I say ‘fuck with,’ you say ‘Flak Mob’!”
Flak Mob is the unofficial group name for a hip-hop subsection of Cal Poly’s Music Production Union (MPU). This is the second year they’ve organized Operation: Hip Hop, which features Cal Poly student acts along with guest artists from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
“[Last year] it was a good event, but we had a lot of spare time towards the end that we didn’t really account for,” Kregness said. “This time we calculated everything to the ‘T;’ we have a perfect itinerary, it’s all fully fleshed out.”
From the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) vs. Cal Poly B-Boy Battle to the Knowmads, a rap group based in Los Angeles, the three-hour concert was full of 13 high-energy performances.
MPU hosted auditions to determine which acts got to perform in the show. Cal Poly staff and MPU mentors made decisions based on the quality of performers’ content, their stage presence and how much effort they put into their act as a whole.
“We have so many different personalities, so many different opinions and we operate democratically,” Kregness said. “So sometimes some peoples’ ideas don’t make it through, sometimes they do; that’s just the way it works. We decided that everything should be up to the input of the community, rather than one person taking the lead because this is for us. It’s not a platform, this a group.”
For agricultural business sophomore Rohan Moorjani, being a part of the community means writing music, doing marketing for the event and making mixtapes. Moorjani performed six songs for Operation: Hip Hop.
“I think it went really well,” Moorjani said. “We had really good response from the crowd and a lot of people were really into the energy.”
The crowd really got excited when the Cal Poly and UCSB BBoy teams took the stage, working the space with back spins, windmills and hand glides.
Many rappers performed songs from their albums that were either just released on Soundcloud or are coming out in the future. The crowd went crazy when the Knowmads performed their song “Weed.”
“I loved all the sets and the hype,” Flak Mob member Jonathan Sahyoun said. “We brought everyone in, the B-boys did well, the Knowmads killed it. It went really well, I really enjoyed it.”
While the rappers themselves enjoyed the night and agreed that the event turned out much better than last year’s event, they also agreed that despite increased marketing efforts, the turnout wasn’t as high as expected.
“It was pretty much the same turnout as last year when we didn’t really try,” business administration sophomore Sahyoun said. “[But] we did a great job all in all and we aren’t going to be too critical right now. I know people really like this music, I just don’t think it reached enough people. Seven hundred [or] 1,000 people, that would be something.”