The free concert brings rappers, MCs, DJs and breakers together for a celebration of hip hop. Grace Khieu | Courtesy Photo

The Music Production Union (MPU) will host the third annual Operation: Hip Hop, a free hip-hop concert, at 6 p.m. Friday, April 20, in the University Union (UU) Plaza.

“Operation: Hip Hop is the pinnacle of all hip-hop events at Cal Poly,” SLO Breakers President John Duch said.

Students involved in different aspects of the hip-hop community — breakers, rappers, MCs and DJs — will perform original pieces at the concert. Funding for the concert is provided by the MultiCultural Center.

Operation: Hip Hop was the brainchild of industrial engineering senior Logan Kregness, founder of MPU.

“Operation: Hip Hop came out of wanting to raise awareness that there’s actually a lot of good hip-hop artists around here,” Kregness said. “It gives a new pedestal for a lot of the hip-hop artists to actually get on a big stage with a lot of people and show what they got.”

Hundreds of people showed up for last year’s Operation: Hip Hop in Chumash Auditorium. This year, they decided to bring it outside.

“Since it’ll be outside, it’s not limited to people who are just going to Chumash,” art and design senior Duch said. “Anyone who walks in the [UU Plaza] will get to see what’s going on.”

University of California, Santa Barbara’s breaking group, UCSBreakin’, will travel to San Luis Obispo for an exhibition battle with SLO Breakers. Duch said their “playful beef” with UCSBreakin’ created a new tradition of including break battles at the event.

In addition, Flak Mob, a hip-hop collective in San Luis Obispo and born out of the MPU will be at Operation: Hip Hop. They will perform as a group and many of their members, including Kregness, will give original solo performances at Friday’s concert.

Spreading awareness is crucial for the Cal Poly hip-hop community right now, according to communication studies senior and vocalist Micaela Board. 

“I think there’s a lot to be said about diversity in this area,” Board said. “Hip-hop is not Black; it is a culture that extends outside of race. But it is created and honed in the minority sphere, Black and Hispanic particularly. I think it’s going to be really good, especially right now following this controversy with the blackface and everything that’s stemmed from that, to bring something multicultural to this campus on a big level.”

Hip-hop was founded by the Black and Puerto Rican communities in the Bronx, New York, during a time when the city overlooked their voices and their needs, according to Kregness. Hip-hop sheds light on communities that are often overlooked.

“The importance of a hip-hop community here definitely lies in representation and in being able to hear the stories of people who typically don’t have a voice,” Kregness said. “It’s important to hear out the minority in every case because without hearing every side of the equation, we can’t work for a proper solution. I love hip-hop because it’s that raw, unadulterated voice of the people.”

Not only that, he said, but hip-hop unifies.

“Now more than ever it’s important to consider the things that unite us over what divides us,” Kregness said. “Hip-hop culture is something that unites all sorts of demographics — race, gender, whatever it is. We can all unite under one thing and that’s the love for the culture. I hope people come out and witness the unity.”

Thanks to the efforts of students and the addition of events like Operation: Hip Hop, Kregness has watched the hip-hop scene in San Luis Obispo grow over the years.

“It’s definitely exploded a lot,” Kregness said. “It’s only going to get bigger and better.”

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