ELI: Hi, this is Eli Rami, and I am here at the Hip-Hop Bloq Party—that is “bloq” with a q. The event was organized by the Black Student Alliance at Yale, Oye!, the Yale Breakers, and the Freestyle Collective. It is here at the corner of High and Crown Street over by the AACC and La Casa. The Bloq Party celebrated hip-hop culture at Yale and within the greater New Haven community.
ANDY: Yeah, I’m going to hop in. So my name’s Andy. I’m kind of taking on the role of sort of leading the collective. We don’t have any, like, formal positions or anything.
ELI: That’s Andy Hill, a senior in Berkeley who sends emails for the Freestyle Collective.
ANDY: Last year they had this awesome hip-hop block party, and we really wanted to recreate it. Everyone was, like, coming up to them saying it was, like, the best party they had ever had at Yale.
ELI: They had such a good time the decided to do it again this year.
CESAR: Tonight is the culmination of a dream that I and Leo Kim had, and, like, Isaiah Genece and a lot of old hip-hop heads who started at Yale freshman year. We were like, “We want to bring hip-hop to Yale somehow,” and basically wanted to create a tradition and, like, create this event every year, and bring the energy and the culture of hip-hop and the four elements of DJing, rap, graffiti, and, like, now B-boying and B-girling or break-dancing, so the essence of what it is to be a hip-hop head.
ELI: That’s Cesar Garcia, a senior in Stiles.
JOSH: Hi, I’m Josh, and it’s just a cool thing to have at Yale to demonstrate that, you know, there’s more to Yale and to the Ivy League in general than the country club and, you know, ascot demographic that you’re used to. We do things like get down out here.
KEVIN: Princeton’s crew is here. We’re gonna battle them for thirty minutes. Yeah, we’re gonna fuck ‘em up. Get that on the record!
ELI: Bold words from Kevin Zhen, who was involved in planning this year’s Bloq Party.
ATTENDEE: Kevin’s just a freshman. He’s just like really holding it up hard. I respect that.
And me, Jake, a few other kids, like Cesar and Andy, really tried to make this event happen. Right now we’re gonna get a little dance cipher going. I want to see you on the floor. If you have a body, you can move. If you can move, you can dance. If you can dance, you should be on this cardboard. All right? All right. Let’s get it going!
[Shouts and music]
ELI: So I guess the best way to describe what’s happening so far is someone is hopping on the ground with one hand, going up and down. And now we have a group of two people who are a tag team, as it’s called. It wasn’t clear who won, but Princeton and Yale weren’t the only people dancing. D Phantom, a New Haven breaker, was here too.
D PHANTOM: I’m enjoying this so far though. I like it here. I like how the whole community is getting together, you know, there’s a lot of talented people out here, you know, and they can just express themselves, feel comfortable around everybody. And I’m a dancer myself, and you know, we call our group Playtimes, come here and make friends and do our thing and show our talent. That’s basically it.
ELI: The event also appealed to many in the older generation, who were reminded of the early days of hip-hop.
ATTENDEE: I’m missing the rapping and the graffiti, and all that. But this has that ’85, ’86 good feel, good time. It’s a good thing. You know, hip-hop always has expression. This is expression. It’s good expression, which is good.
ISAIAH: Yeah, well, what we’ve got here is an authentic hip-hop block party, man. We have a Princeton dance group coming through here, doing a little breaking man. We’ve got that old school, like, light feet style, straight out of New York, man. A lot of dance rooms had a freestyle cipher. This is one of the most beautiful about hip-hop and the vibrant culture it is.
ELI: Says Isaiah Genece, a member of the Hip-Hop Grandfathers. He raps too.
ISAIAH: Hip-hop is by definition an inclusionary art, man. The whole idea behind it is that it unites communities around the idea that music and culture and life is accessible to absolutely everybody. As you can see, there are people walking in off of the street, literally just hopping in on this Home Depot cardboard. Accessible materials, accessible music. And accessible to the community, man.That’s what it’s all about. It’s about unity, it’s about togetherness It’s about rebellion, but it’s about expression, man. It’s about channeling one’s emotions into a single place and event. You can see it when you get here, man. It’s felt, and it’s loved by everyone.
ATTENDEE: I’m hoping that these kinds of events become more prominent on campus and that people, like, start to understand what hip-hop really means, kind of a religion for a lot of people who live this lifestyle.
ATTENDEE: It was really great to see just random people from New Haven, like, local New Haveners come, and spit or dance. I mean, that was part of the experience. Definitely learned a lot from this first time so next year it’s gonna be even better, even bigger. So, yeah, stay posted.
ATTENDEE: Are you a reporter?
ELI: Yeah, I’m Eli Rami. I’m with the Herald where I’m recording for a podcast.
ATTENDEE: Oh, nice.
ATTENDEE: You do podcasts? Oh my God!