Hip-Hop Collective holds lock-in to produce album

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Photo Courtesy of Hip-Hop Collective

Members of the the RSO Hip-Hop Collective produce an album during their 12-hour lock-in on Friday. During that time, members of the club wrote, recorded and produced music.

By Azucena Gama, Contributing Writer

On Friday, Nov. 19, while many University students were going home for fall break, the RSO Hip-Hop Collective’s members gathered for a 12-hour lock-in to create music for their album. The almost 30 person lock-in began officially at 7 p.m. and ended at 7 a.m. During that time, members of the club wrote, recorded and produced music.

Hip-Hop Collective activities include rapping, songwriting, production, instrumentals, dancing and visual arts. The RSO also partners with the course MUSC 457: Hip-Hop Collective with Dr. Rudolf Haken and TE 398: Hip Hop Entrepreneurship with Dr. William Patterson. 

“We come together to record music, jam together, freestyle improv, put together performances and do weird events,” said Christopher Brenden, HHC president and fourth-year doctoral student in Engineering.

The group is made up of University students as well as other residents of Champaign-Urbana.

“We are trying to be a network for people coming to campus and wanting to meet other musicians and have a way to make music and connect with the scene around Urbana-Champaign,” said Phil Coady, HHC vice president and junior in LAS.

The semester project of making a full album has integrated 30-40 people who have never worked with each other before, and most of them have never even recorded music. All participants have creative leadership in the LP no matter their role in the club. The goal is create everything independently so that the RSO can collect profit from it.

“We are not only writing it, but we are producing the beats, and we are going to try and make it royalty-free, so it is legal for us to push it in stores and try to make money off of it as an RSO,” Brenden said. “We are going to produce it, mix it and master it ourselves. Some people in the club have the knowledge (to do that), and some people don’t, so I think it’s a really dope way to get people that are interested to just dive in and go for it.”

They are aiming for the album to be out early next semester. 

Initially, their lock-in was going to be 24 hours to finish a whole album, but the crew decided to take a step back and shift their focus to being productive for the semester-long project. They do, though, hope to do the album-in-a-day event next semester. 

“(The lock-in) was surprisingly effective, most people had stuff prepared they recorded, and on top of that, we just got a bunch of other new tracks,” Coady said. 

“I ended up doing six verses that night, and I wrote all of them; it was fun,” said Akkhiel Nambbiar, HCC treasurer and junior in Engineering.

Many members were eager to get to work. Some brought their equipment and desktops. There were different rooms set up for people’s different computers, so everybody had their own little pockets to work out of. However, after a few hours of productivity, members began to experience fatigue and mania. 

“Somewhere around 2 a.m., there was mass hysteria,” Coady said. “Everyone had at least two separate breakdowns between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.”

There were a few mishaps throughout the night; for example, the number of people who were going to show up was not known, so in the end, there was not enough food for everyone, as most of it was gone by 1 a.m. The hunger began to seep into the music after a while. 

“I wrote a song about being tired and hungry,” Nambbiar said. “And I had a line that mentioned the lyrics ‘four in the morning,’ but by the time we got to recording it, I had to change it to ‘six in the morning.’”

Another thing they dealt with was listener fatigue. After listening to music for an extended period of time, people can experience discomfort and a loss of sensitivity. It was a battle between knowing that there was work to be done but not being able to listen to any of it. 

“It was really interesting trying to figure out how to get around it because there was stuff I needed to do, but I mentally couldn’t do it anymore,” Coady said. “But it was interesting to see how other people were not like that. Like Akkhiel was recording music right down to the wire.”

It was a successful night for Hip-Hop Collective. It reflected their work and passion for not only music but the University. 

“What I like about UIUC is that there are a bunch of driven people here, and they are really top of the level students, and they just want to get after it, sometimes to the detriment of their health like this 12-hour thing, but it’s cool.” Brenden said. “You get a lot of special things happening here.”

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