The Student Hip-Hop Organization (SHHO) at UVA promotes the musical, artistic, and cultural values of hip-hop, uniting a community of music lovers on Grounds and in Charlottesville. Known for their hype DJ nights at Crozet, fresh graphics, and spirit of authenticity, SHHO is one of the most vibrant, well-respected organizations on Grounds. They host a variety of events – from community art shows, listening parties, and movie screenings to lectures and academic talks with UVA professors. “Can I Kick It? A Local Hip-Hop Showcase” was their latest event and sought to promote their love for hip-hop and Charlottesville by showcasing local talent outside of Grounds.
The inspiration behind “Can I Kick It?” began last fall when SHHO’s executive committee realized that they wanted to expand outside of UVA and into the greater Charlottesville community.
Alex Cheung (CLAS ’17), the president of SHHO, spoke to their motivation behind the showcase: “There’s a pretty awesome culture here as far as local rappers go, and we were really trying to tap into that.”
In previous years, SHHO has brought artists such as Run The Jewels, Travis Scott, D.R.A.M., Denzel Curry, and GoldLink to the area. But this year, they wanted to bridge the UVA community with the local hip-hop scene. “Can I Kick It?” was the first large-scale hip-hop showcase organized specifically for, and with, Charlottesville rappers.
Felix De Jong (CLAS ’18), an outreach team member in SHHO, works closely with many local rappers through OHYE – a hip-hop collective he co-founded. With De Jong’s connections, SHHO was able to organize a solid line-up with rappers Keese, Danny L’z, Sondai, and J-Willz at The Southern in Downtown Charlottesville.
“Engaging with the local scene is important because it’s the music closest to home,” De Jong stated.
Though UVA has a lively community of student bands and artists, “often times, we forget about our local music scene, and I think that [Can I Kick It?] is a really good way in engaging students with that local scene,” De Jong said.
“Can I Kick It?” is just one of many events that SHHO organizes to promote community. Engaging with not only local music, but local politics has always been important to SHHO, with the organization maintaining an active role in politics and social justice activism.
“BSA, Black Lives Matter – those are things that are really important to us as an organization,” Cheung stated.
SHHO supports activism both in response to racial and social justice issues at UVA as well as in national politics. Last fall during the Eliminate the Hate Week at UVA, and after the contentious inauguration of President Trump, they ran a poster campaign around Grounds spreading inspirational hip-hop lyrics from artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, and Kanye West.
Maggie McCoy (CLAS ’18), the content co-chair of SHHO, stated that “in times when things are difficult and the culture at UVA seems really negative we just try to spread the positive message that hip-hop can bring…for inspiration, hope [and] to promote a sense of unity.”
Cheung echoed that statement: “The message that people can convey through [hip-hop] is super powerful… and hip-hop as a larger role speaks to people for a lot of different reasons. It helps you experience things you could never imagine, it helps you go into a world that you never think could exist, and it brings people together.”
To learn more about SHHO and to stay updated with their events, check out their Facebook page, website, Twitter, and SoundCloud – where you can also keep up with their new weekly hip-hop inspired podcast, “Fridays til Infinity.”