Since its humble beginnings, hip-hop has inspired people from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds across the world.
Hip-hop creates a unique lifestyle with its own language, style of dress, music, and mindset, all continuously evolving.
In Newton, at both South and North, hip-hop has become one of the most popular styles of music. It is what you hear blasting out of open car windows, or through the headphones of an anxious athlete getting pumped for a big game or meet.
In fact, hip-hop is so inspiring that students have begun to make their own music, expressing their own ideas and voicing their own opinions via beats.
Bohan Leng, also known as Phinale, a senior at North, came to Boston from China in 2003 when he was 11 years old. Surprisingly, he never truly liked music until he started rapping in 2005, after seeing the movie 8 Mile.
It is the music he identifies with: “It just stuck with me and it’s just been like the best thing that’s ever happened to me, Leng said.
Leng’s biggest influence “was, is, and always will be Eminem, because he tells a story within his songs, just as Phinale strives to do. His other influences include Tupac and Kanye West. On his iPod, however, Leng has more of other genres of music, including tracks by Jason Mraz and The Script. “Whatever is good influences me nowadays, Leng said.
Seniors Nick Sobel and Ben Weissman, members of the group Eight Inch Friends, held a mutual curiosity about creating hip-hop and wanted to test it out.
“Basically, it started with me and Nick last year’€he loved to sing, and I loved to rap, so we put the two together, Weissman said.
This year, however, it has grown to become a “supergroup, featuring many other members, such as South junior Ashan Singh, seniors Matt Breuer and Josh Richards, and Rivers School seniors Alex Adach and Ross Hoyt.
The main inspiration for their group was the great success of the well-known band, <3Jazzfox, as well as music by Eminem and Drake. Songs created by Eight Inch Friends are not usually performed live, unless squeezed into a Pajammin’ set; they release their songs on Facebook, distributing them whenever they finish an album.
Other South seniors Brandon Fuller-Porter and Sam Pirrello created a band called BFPSP (the initials of the two members) in the fall of 2008 because of a shared passion for the arts.
“Sam and I have always been ones to speak our mind, and this gave us a creative channel to do so, Fuller-Porter said.
He claims that their music taste has always been very different, but as a group they “drew from the styles of hip-hop and rap, experimental beats, classic rock, heavy metal, jazz, live instrumentation, electronic, and basically anything that was made with the music in mind.
They listen mostly to the experimental beats coming from music by the Flying Lotus and Shlohmo.
As far as performances go, they have done shows ranging from basements around Boston to the well-known Harper’s Ferry in Allston, their larger shows reaching attendance numbers in the hundreds.
“Everyone should approach hip-hop with an open mind and realize the difference between music for entertainment’s sake and music for music’s sake, Fuller-Porter said.
North junior Devon Mychal is a student also involved with creating his own rap and hip-hop music. He started producing his own beats using a program called Logic Pro Studio, a professional version of GarageBand, and rapped over them.
“I taught myself how to record and mix so I could show people my stuff, and that’s where I’m at right now’€just trying to improve, Mychal said.
Hip-hop has become a bridge between different cultures. Especially in Newton, a community with two high schools, it is a way for the students from both South and North to come together with a common interest.]]>
For those unfamiliar with its origins, Tertulia is an annual talent show in memory of junior Maxine Chansky, a lover of arts, music and culture.
Needless to say, this year’s performances proved extraordinary.
Prior to the show’s premiere, Tertulia club members had to audition the performers.
With an increase in people who auditioned, the number of groups cut increased significantly.
Although it was stressful and difficult to choose the performers, a final list was set and created for the big day.
A week prior to Tertulia, teachers scrambled to sign up for the blocks early, making sure to obtain a spot.
Regrettably, the seats were limited and the auditorium was not big enough to fit everyone who signed up.
Students urged their respective teachers to sign up for Tertulia; however, many requests were denied.
At the start of each block, hallways filled with song, an unfortunate reminder for students unable to view the show.
During specific periods throughout the day, performers warmed up for their routines, from dances and vocal performances to beat-boxing numbers and spinning lights.
Many bands that performed, including Cuss Filled Rants, Pajammin’, First Train In, and Snugs, got students up on their feet. These groups played originals, covers, and even a few mash-ups to please the crowd.
Specifically, Dyin’ Dawgz, equipped with rapping, beat boxing, singing, and a violin, surprised the audience with their songs, and Eight Inch Friends rapped and sang, backed up by violins and a full band.
Seniors Ross McDonald, Greg Gruener, and Jacob Liverman played a well-known MGMT song with some daring students on stage dancing behind them.
Other singers pleased the crowd with more simple songs, some with an instrument and others with just their voices.
Pajacapella sang a capella, reassuring the audience that they are a completely different group from Pajammin’ and humoring the listeners with an interpretation of Justin Bieber’s “One Time.
Senior Sayuri Ito impressed multiple blocks with her singing skills, both as a soloist and with the a capella group the Newtones.
Olivia Schutte sang and played guitar beautifully, amazing the crowd with her remarkable voice, and Senior Mike Richarde, who sang and played guitar with cellist sophomore Aaron Wolff, gave a particularly poignant performance during F-block.
Richarde’s angelic voice combined with the harmonious playing of Wolff moved the crowd.
Seniors Silver Ko and David Park sent the audience through the roof with an amazing rendition of “If I Ain’t Got You, especially when Park unexpectedly came out from behind the curtain to sing his solo.
Of course, there were also the dancers, from professional dance studios to student groups, such as the dance team and the step squad, to individual student performers.
Ballroom dancers, sophomore Ava Donovan, junior Ron Garber, junior Allen Rudman, and senior Michelle Tuzman, performed with great enthusiasm, prompting many students to tap their feet and dance in their seats.
Junior Jeffrey Alkins was also a highlight performance with his skilled and practiced movements, while mathematics teachers Martha Moyer and Sharon O’Connor lit up the stage with a fun and sparkling tap routine.
Students were thrilled to see their talented teachers in the spotlight.
Of course, there are always the more unexpected performances.
Freshman Raphael Kasobel did a spinning light routine, captivating the audience with the quick movements and neon.
Junior Laura Haime and Senior Nina Bellio, although infused with different styles, both did renditions of belly dancing.
This year’s Tertulia was a huge success as always. The success of this talent show is due to the hard work of the Tertulia Club, which organized the event.
The stage crew moved equipment on and off the stage throughout the event, while the light and sound crew created the atmosphere for each act.
This year’s show, a collaborative effort among all involved, proved truly spectacular.]]>
With this in mind, South students have also begun to utilize the internet as a tool to establish themselves as artists. Allowing artists to expand even further, online music sites are an important medium for artists including those of South to use.
Junior Gabe Goodman is one of the many talented musicians at South. Having played guitar and bass his whole life, Goodman recently composed his album, Conundrummer. However, to promote his music, Goodman now offers his music online free of charge.
“Myspace is sort of necessary these days. It’s the easiest way to give people an idea of what you’re doing musically and it’s definitely helped me get gigs and find an audience outside of school, Goodman said.
While Goodman was a member of the band Kitchens during his freshman and sophomore years, he now records music without being a part of a band. In this regard, Goodman has installed a recording studio in his room. “I just record stuff whenever I feel like it. Nothing’s really done outside my bedroom, said Goodman.
“[Goodman's music is a] gust of fresh air on a sweaty sports-Sunday afternoon, [creating an] inspiring umami of sound, said sophomore Jonah Reider.
Vitamin Seed is one example of a band at South that has utilized its resources; the band has also put its music online, free of charge. Junior Pat Walsh, a member of Vitamin Seed, explains that when together, his band is very ademant about finishing their songs and reaching perfection.
Vitamin Seed’s new album, Comet Crystal Drip, is available online. Contemplating the success of their myspace page, members of Vitamin Seed agree that it is a valuable resource for independent musicians.
“It’s a terrific way to expose people to your music, although you certainly don’t need one to be successful, Walsh said.
“Downloading albums off the internet allows me to put them on my iPod. When a lot of kids have your band on their iPod, it’s a pretty big deal, junior Elena Origlio said. Moreover, while senior Rebecca Fleisher prefers live performances, she admits that Myspace has the potential to also grasp her attention.
Like his peers, Dan Lawrence uses Myspace as a means to display his music. Currently, Lawrence is working on a full-length album which will be featured online. “[Myspace is] an easy way for other people to hear and enjoy [your music], Lawrence said.
“It’s very important for bands to keep their music online because one, they are high school bands, so few people would buy it, and two, it’s just good to spread your music, senior musician Eric Phillips said.]]>