While many students made their way to the annual X Games up in Aspen this weekend to ski and see performances by artists like The Chainsmokers and G-Eazy, Colorado State University’s United Men of Color hosted their own free event Clash of the Titans VI right inside the Lory Student Center.
Clash of the Titans is an eight person rap battle tournament that occurs annually at CSU, featuring local Colorado artists from different parts of the state. The battle is a freestyle rap competition with a $200 cash prize that aims to crown the best emcee in Colorado. According to Kent Washington, president of UMC who largely coordinated the event, Clash of the Titans is also so much more.
“CSU has a lack of hip-hop culture,” Washington said. “Hip-hop has a negative connotation that has been built by some mainstream media. But its main roots and its history are about overcoming, it’s about telling our stories and how we can relate to as many people as possible. Ultimately, we’re trying to create an environment of positivity, fun and to create a place for people to indulge in hip-hop culture.”
The event centers around the eight person rap battle tournament, including rappers J-Money, The O.P, Rooftop York, Juz J, Essence, KnowSoul, TypeOne and Stylo. The artists battled one-on-one with each other, and one rapper was eliminated each round by the panel of judges. The rappers were judged based on criteria like lyrical-ability, the “oooh” factor, humor and how the performer effects the crowd.
“I think having the crowd by the stage this year was better,” said attendee Oliver Robinson who came to the event from Denver. “The crowd was into the battle more. The punch lines were dope this year.”
CSU student and UMC member Khalil Perkins was the MC for the event, and while the rappers were roasting each other, the crowd chose the roast Khalil. A giant projector screen mounted at the back of the stage projected a stream of tweets from the event where attendees could hashtag their tweets with #ClashVI to get them published onto the screen.
Friends of Khalil posted his old prom photos and captioned his old Facebook photos to make them into memes, causing the crowd to erupt into laughter. Each time, Khalil had a hilarious retaliation.
“I just got this haircut!” Perkins said, responding to one of the top tweets on the projector that questioned why Desiigner was hosting the show. “I need to put my Facebook on private,” he told the crowd.
Tweets funneled in throughout the entire event, including a large number of memes that expressed audience member’s feelings about the rap battles. Many centered around critique for the battler’s lyrics.
Rappers freestyled under Clash the the Titans rules that were designed for inclusivity. Misogynistic lyrics and homophobic content was not tolerated.
Michael Pupiales, who goes by the name KnowSoul, was the subject of many of tweets due to his unique battling style that lead to his victory at last year’s Clash of the Titans. Instead of attacking his opponents, KnowSoul rapped about how his peers were apart of something bigger, social justice and his meditation.
Brian Frederick, also known as TypeOne, came out on top as this year’s champion, after battling Juz J in the last round. TypeOne, who’s been into battle rap for about five years and rap in general for 10, produced bars that were more aggressive than previous champion KnowSoul, but he got the job done in his own style with what the judges described as clever retaliations that the audience could clearly hear and appreciate.
“As for the battle it came down to understanding what the judges and what the crowd wanted to hear. Luckily, I was able to have enough bars to gain momentum,” said Frederick, a senior marketing student at UNC. “I enjoy the challenge and competition with events like this, so I’m trying to push myself constantly. It was nice to take the prize after entering the last few years and not being able to take it. I always have fun at Clash of the Titans, so it’s great to showcase your skills for what you enjoy.”
To keep audiences hyped up, performances by No Coast Company, Top Flite Empire, Shyann Lee, Trayce Chapman, Jay Triiiple, RAMOND, Ozzie, MTG and Messenger were intertwined into the event between battles.
The headliners, Audio Push, a hip-hop duo consisting of Oktane (Julian Browne) and Price (Larry Jacks, Jr.) from California that preach love and good vibes along with their music, closed the event at the end of the show. The duo displayed definite chemistry with each other and with the crowd, performing fan favorites including “Control Us.”
“Shine on your haters,” Price said to the crowd, encouraging them to hold up peace signs and be apart of the the group’s Good Vibe Tribe.
Monica Medina, who goes by MTG, came to the event with powerful vocals that she performed with Washington. She is long-time friends with Audio Push and said the most important part of this event was what UMC brings to CSU’s campus.
On UMC’s Facebook, the organization’s mission statement describes the group as as a “CSU organization here to create a positive impact on the campus and build community between all races and cultures through service, leadership development and culturally inclusive programming.”
Washington described the event put on by UMC as both a much needed platform for hip-hop in Fort Collins and a place for diversity on campus. Attendees, performers and everyone involved in the event were a diverse group of people of all different races. UMC was intentional about inclusivity during the planning of the event.
“Our organization cares about this event so much,” Washington said. “UMC is young people of color speaking their truth.”
Go to UMC’s Facebook and Twitter, @, for information on upcoming events and how to get involved with the group.