UCL offers students much more than just a degree: Clubs and Societies are the foundation of many students’ social lives, and eventual careers. This year Pi will be featuring a different society every week, to spotlight the diversity of students’ activities and to showcase the great work we do outside of academia.
We spoke to joint Presidents Tahmid Rahman and Maria Orthodoxou to find out more about Hip-Hop and RnB Society, a group which only came into existence this academic year.
Why did you set up Hip-Hop and RnB Society?
Because it needed to exist! In freshers’ week we were both looking for a Hip-Hop and RnB Society, anything involving music of that genre, but we couldn’t find it at UCL. So we decided we’d do it for ourselves. At the end of last year, we got all the paperwork and signatures needed to set up a society together in the space of a day. There was a lot of interest!
Why should someone join your society?
Anyone with an interest in hip-hop and RnB can come together here. It doesn’t make sense for this not to have existed before – looking at UCLU societies, Music covers classical, then you’ve got Jazz too; but Hip-Hop and RnB are even more popular among people of university age, yet it wasn’t catered to. There are so many Hip-Hop and RnB club nights in London but that’s all people can go to – UCLU have really been missing something. The main thing for us is having an interest in the music, and then if people have a musical talent they want to showcase, there are opportunities for them too.
What is the big plan for the society?
We’d like to do talks with up and coming artists – that’s not confirmed yet, but is definitely on the cards. We’re planning to do a debate about hip-hop culture, covering topics like misogyny in hip-hop and use of the n word. We’re potentially looking at working with SOAS Decolonising Our Minds Society on that. Our first event was a spoken word night – performances are important but it’s not all about the music. We want a fairly easy-going vibe. With hip-hop culture it would be quite easy to take quite a heavy route, but we want it to be accessible and fun as well!
Is there a possibility you’d branch out beyond UCL, or beyond London?
We are obviously hoping to team up with SOAS for debates and speakers, and we’ve been talking to other hip-hop societies across the country, like Leeds and Warwick, so maybe in the next few years we could do something on a national level. That’s really for when we’re more established though – this is only our first year! There is home-grown UCL talent, such as the slam poets performing at our spoken word night, who could go on to represent us nationally – if we can help nurture that talent that could be a really great thing.
Your first spoken word event is part of UCLU Black History Month. Do you think campaigning is going to be a big part of your society?
There are lots of elements and avenues to hip-hop and RnB because it’s a cultural phenomenon; in UCL students’ work as well as in the bigger picture, we see lots of spoken word about identity and race struggle. This is a chance for people of similar backgrounds to come together, and that could mean over a shared musical interest or over shared cultural identities. Black History Month is definitely a part of that.
What other opportunities do you have for your members?
We’re looking into the possibility of an outreach programme to give something back to the community. Decolonising Our Minds at SOAS have an outreach programme where they get under-20s from certain areas and schools in London in to their lectures and events, and that’s something we would love to be involved with.
Then there’s the kind of networking that happens naturally in societies. For our spoken word night, we worked with really big names and established poets – for UCLU poets to network with them could be a big opportunity. We also have musical performances and a resident DJ; we’re trying to put our members’ work out there and help them get performance opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had access to.
UCLU Hip-Hop and RnB Society are on Facebook – follow their page for information on upcoming events and how to get involved with the society.
Featured image: UCLU Hip-Hop and RnB Society