The College Union Board (CUB) and organizations from four other New Jersey schools co-sponsored the New Jersey Music Festival, the first event of its kind in the College’s history, held on Friday at Richard Stockton College.
The show featured hip-hop artists Common, Yung Joc and the BurnDown All-Stars and was attended by students from the College, Stockton, Georgian Court University, Rowan University and Monmouth University.
All three acts had one common theme: audience participation. While the openers, BurnDown All-Stars, relegated its interaction to security guards and audience-participation chants, both Yung Joc and Common had audience members onstage for parts of their performances.
Headliner Common interacted with the audience by coming up to the railing to sing into the crowd.
He asked for participation and gave the audience advice while expressing his beliefs.
“Our court system is really fucked up, you know that right?” he asked before launching into another of his poetic, introspective songs. “This is street radio for unsung heroes.”
His performance was heavy on conscience, sensuality and percussion, utilizing his band for emphasis during songs.
“My favorite performer was definitely Common just because I’ve always been a huge fan of his,” NJ Emenuga, senior biology major, said. “His music was great and he was very active onstage and he tried to keep the crowd involved.”
Common invited a female audience member onstage, whom he danced with and serenaded.
He also invited an “aspiring emcee” on to freestyle rap with him.
He took some time out of his performance to pay homage to “the foundation of hip-hop” by giving DJ Dummy a solo in which he dominated the turntables for an awe-inspiring scratch of Rob Base’s “It Takes Two.”
His performance, which included spinning backward, using his head and singing along had even the concert security turning around from their stoic crowd-watching positions.
When supporting act Yung Joc took the stage, he scanned the crowd for a female to bring onstage with him, asking security to find him the “biggest, prettiest girl you can find.”
The winner, Jamie Mann, freshman deaf education/sociology major from the College, rushed across the crowd to climb the stairs onto the stage while visibly shaking with excitement.
After getting a lap dance from a wife-beater-wearing Yung Joc, he asked if there was anyone she wanted to bring up onto the stage with her. Mann yelled for her friend, freshman elementary education/English major Tekeya Winstead.
Winstead said she wasn’t nervous “at all” about being onstage. “I was really excited,” she said. “I was all over the place; I almost fell going up the stairs to the stage. I felt like a superstar.”
She also said she was thrilled when Mann called her onstage. “I owe her big time,” Winstead said.
Yung Joc spent some time interacting with the rest of the audience as well, imploring people to sing along and cheer.
He also offered $50 to anyone in the audience who knew the title of his album and the day it was released, though no one was knowledgeable or vocal enough to win.
Yung Joc later pulled out his Treo and gave the audience his phone number, offering the $50 to the first girl to call.
“But she gotta be quick,” he said, rapping the Atlanta-based number several times.
The “winner,” however, walked away with nothing but the satisfaction of having been on display.
The BurnDown All-Stars, a Philadelphia band who has performed at the Rathskeller, opened the show with a 12-man crew including guitarists, a drummer and a DJ.
The rappers in the group exchanged rhymes and places, with different members coming on for various songs. The entire group was onstage only for the final song, “B.D.A.S.” The band combined various song styles including rap, reggae and rock influences for a high-energy performance while students trickled into the venue.
Stockton had a security system that students here at the College were not used to, being told to leave all bags and cameras in the vehicles they came in.
Each student was subjected to a trip through a metal detector as well as a frisking from a security guard.
Broken up by sexes, students were required to line up before entering the A&R Sports Center and to pull anything remotely metal out of their pockets, including packs of gum.
“I was a little annoyed about how uptight they were being about bringing things in – I couldn’t even bring my purse inside! I thought that was outrageous,” Emenuga said.
The artists were not immune to the security measures either. They were required to wear passes, and many of the musicians were still sporting them during their performances.
After lackluster sales, CUB chose to give away tickets to the show, also offering a free bus ride to and from Stockton. In the end, CUB gave away 440 tickets and had two buses full of students. Some did choose to drive the hour-and-a-half to Stockton.
Even with the security and long-distance bus rides, Tara Conte, director of CUB, said the event was a success. “Everything went really smoothly and everyone seemed to be having a great time,” she said. “I think CUB would definitely be open to doing another show. We were able to do something innovative and unique with a real sense of college community.”