Eight local rap artists competed for $200 in the fifth annual “Clash of the Titans” in the Lory Student Center Theater Saturday night. Hosted by CSU’s United Men of Color, the battle is a single-elimination freestyle rap competition created by UMC to enhance the hip-hop culture in Fort Collins and at CSU by showcasing local rap artists.
Michael Pupiales, a senior at CSU who performs under the name Know Soul, won “Clash of the Titans ” after facing off in the final battle versus CSU sophomore Josh Weemes, who records and performs under the name Emprovyze.
Competing at “Clash of the Titans” was Know Soul’s first time to perform in front of an audience. Know Soul shocked the crowd as he took a unique approach to the battle. Contrary to the other rappers in the competition, Know Soul shared positive lyrics that expressed love and compassion for his fellow competitors.
“I see a form of activists that could exist in hip hop,” said Know Soul. “I think that we need to find unity, because the labels are what bring people apart — a label of skin color, a label of class or creed. What we don’t realize is that these are our brother and sisters.”
Know Soul said he chose rap as a platform to share his message because he respects the artistry one must possess to be a successful freestyle rapper.
“I tried to embody the style of freestyle,” said Know Soul. “I don’t write anything down, because I see beauty in something that could never be replicated.”
Know Soul will be giving his $200 of winnings to his alternative spring break trip to Washington D.C.
CSU graduate Quiana Hill, who performed in last year’s “Clash of the Titans” as a dancer, said she was happy to learn that Know Soul will be using his money for a good cause.
“I really like that he told us where the money was going towards,” said Hill. “He had such a positive vibe the whole time. I love what he stands for, and I’m glad the money went to him.”
Although Emprovyze lost the final battle to Know Soul, he expressed his gratitude towards the opportunity to perform and promote his music alongside Know Soul.
“This was my first time ever on a stage,” said Emprovyze. “It was incredible to share that experience with an intelligent man. Honestly, mad respect. Know Soul makes good music.”
CSU junior and UMC executive member Kent Washington was the mastermind behind the organization and event planning of “Clash of the Titans.” Washington said that the purpose of “Clash of the Titans” is to bring the culture of hip-hop to Fort Collins.
“CSU has a lack of hip hop culture,” said Washington. “We love country. We love acoustic and pop. We’ve just never had a true hip hop community come together and throw something really awesome. I am here to be the catalyst of that and to invoke change. This is all about positivity and love.”
CSU sophomore and UMC member Isaiah Martin appreciated this effort.
“It is always great to bring a huge part of African American culture to a university that is a predominately white institution,” said Martin. “Just to be able to see this and this huge crowd with a diverse audience is amazing.”
Martin said that the immense diversity at “Clash of the Titans” did not just exist in the audience.
“I think a lot of different styles were expressed tonight,” said Martin. “One thing that was really cool to see was the diversity that we had in the performances. We had a few more white rappers than we have had in previous years. That was really cool to see.”
Washington said he initially created the battle as a way of giving local artists a platform for success. One of the ways in which he accomplished this was by bringing in founding member of hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang and rising rap artist Casey Veggies to perform and judge the competition.
“It’s definitely inspiring for me being an artist,” said Casey Veggies. “I am not in college, but just to see these kids doing something different. Not just going to school, but actually taking the initiative to put together events for the school and the community. It’s just like pushing the bar a little bit and that’s what I am all about.”
Casey Veggies said he was happy to help UMC accomplish their goal of bringing hip-hop to CSU.
“I am always down to help and I am glad that I can be an artist of a certain stature to come here and support what they are doing and give a good show,” said Casey Veggies. “I have done my share of college shows, but this one definitely felt good. Good energy. Good people. Good crowd. It felt good.”
Casey Veggies said he was impressed with the aspiring rappers who competed in “Clash of the Titans.”
“There was some dope music,” said Casey Veggies. “I heard some dope raps. I heard some passionate music. It is amazing that these young men put this show together.”
Collegian Reporter Randi Mattox can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @randimattox.