Life experiences influence U-C Hip-Hop president

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Online Poster

By Winyan Soo Hoo

Finding inspiration from his experiences in Switzerland, Philippines and the Chicago suburbs, Victor Carreon – DJ, rapper, breakdancer, student and president of the U-C Hip-Hop Congress, said he can see his identity in hip-hop music and culture.

“To me, hip-hop is about building skills, and it’s about community, bringing people together and having fun,” Carreon said. “Hip-hop broadens my perspective because it is an ice-breaker to the rest of the world. To me, it is definitely a feeling, it makes me check myself, push my limits and solidify my identity.”

Before taking the role as the president of U-C Hip-Hop, Carreon, junior in LAS, said he was introduced to the world of underground hip-hop, DJing and scratching – a turntable technique that mixes music – through the influence of his cousins. As an American phenomenon, hip-hop was still new to the music scene in Switzerland and the Philippines when he lived there. For this reason, Carreon said he preferred the still-experimental sounds of hip-hop abroad.

After graduating high school, Carreon said he came back to the states to attend the University where he found a small but diverse and multi-dimensional hip-hop community with people who have “experienced hip-hop in their own way.”

Last year, Carreon became the president of the U-C Hip-Hop Congress, a four-year-old organization dedicated to spreading awareness and providing information about hip-hop. Through the organization, Carreon deepened his knowledge of and love for hip-hop.

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Alistair Slaughter, the master of ceremonies (MC) committee head in the U-C Hip-Hop Congress, said Carreon devotes much time and energy to the U-C Hip Hop Congress, making it more organized.

“Victor makes the organization a lot more solid. He is good at what he does,” said Slaughter, sophomore in LAS. “Victor is a dope rapper and a dope producer. It is also very interesting to hear him talk and rap about his culture and his stories of the Philippines. Victor has one the most extensive songs and most materials out of the rappers of the group.”

As president, Carreon said he helps organize event promotions, outreach programs and Sunday Sessions, which are weekly practices and open sessions. The outreach programs teach local high school students how to DJ, MC and breakdance. He also helps organize “Chill in the Grill,” a free and weekly event on Wednesday evenings from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Canopy Club, located at 708 S. Goodwin Ave. in Urbana, where participants can experience live DJ, breakdance and MC performances.

“People come to chill, experience the vibrant music, share art and learn more about the organization,” Carreon said.

Carreon said he is proud of the presence the U-C Hip Hop Congress has established on campus and of the growing popularity of hip-hop music and culture among University students. In the future, Carreon said he hopes the group will expand from its Champaign-Urbana roots to become a national organization.

“I’d like to see more community outreach on the campus and I’d also like to see the organization take more trips around the U.S. to meet other groups doing the same thing and build a strong national network,” Carreon said.

Carreon said he finds inspiration from music that is always on the edge – “never filtered and very extreme.” He said he enjoys listening to many hip-hop pioneers and popular artists including Rakim, Public Enemy, Kanye West and local artists such as himself.

In addition to his work with the U-C Hip-Hop Congress, Carreon is also a local DJ. Known as “Limbs” in the club scene, he spins music at local cafes, house parties and bars such as Boltini Lounge, 211 N. Neil St. in Champaign. From his vast collection of vintage vinyl records, Carreon said he takes music people do not usually listen to and incorporates it into his personal mixes. When spinning music, Carreon said he also uses many sounds and inspirations from his youth.

When Carreon is not DJing or working with the U-C Hip-Hop Congress, he works at the CITES help desk at the Digital Computer Lab.

“You can call in and I’ll freestyle a (computer) related solution,” Carreon said.

Carreon admits that balancing his roles as president, artist and student can be a challenge.

“Victor has a drive; he’s always moving and always working,” said Kevin Brooks, junior in LAS and Carreon’s roommate. “His deep love for music keeps him motivated to get through all that he does.”

Carreon said the best part of being the president of U-C Hip-Hop Congress is meeting and helping the students who join the organization.

“I get to help these people build ways to achieve their goals and grow,” Carreon said. “I also get to learn about a variety of different perspectives people have on hip-hop.”

But Carreon said the organization is not just about its coordinators and artists.

“A lot of people feel that you need to rap, DJ or dance to be a part of the organization,” Slaughter said. “It’s not that at all, there are many different people who make up the organization. I’ve met people of different majors, different ethnicities, different religions who have joined our group. One thing different about UC Hip-Hop is that it is very diverse.”