By Laura Dripps
An above-average crowd came out to Gardner Lounge last Saturday, Feb. 12, for a night of high-energy experimental hip-hop.
BBU, an acronym for “Bin Laden Blowin’ Up” started the show with plenty of audience engagement, stage-banter and repeated assurances that their best-known song “Chi Don’t Dance” would come at the end of the set.
Though juking, a form of dance popular in the group’s home city of Chicago, was a central focus of the group’s music, most audience members favored a less graphic form of physical movement—either jumping around or participating in the more vertical dance style of “grinding.”
“There could definitely have been more juking,” said Sylvie Warfield ’14, a Chicago resident. “A good way to get to know my fellow students is to juke with them. It’s physically intimate—it’s a way to bond. … I foresee myself juking for basically the rest of my life. It’s an integral part of who I am.”
Despite the Grinnell audience’s relatively tame dancing, extreme energy radiated throughout the performance as the fast-paced dance beats and group choruses on the tracks “BB WHO!!!!!!!!!” and “C.H.I.C.A.G.O,” played alongside the more political content of “Black n Plastic” and “I Do This For My Culture.” The rappers even tried to combine their loves for juking and political commentary into one song, in the imaginative but rather dangerous-sounding “Juking on Landmines.”
The group’s attempt to put out both revolutionary independent hip-hop and regionally well-known dance hits was apparently successful, in that no one seemed perplexed by the juxtaposition of on-stage statements such as “Shout out to bell hooks,” instructions to “Get free like Egypt,” a call-and-response chant of “When I say F***, you say Viacom!” and the band’s cover of “No Hands” by the notoriously meaningless Waka Flocka Flame.
Dominique Young Unique followed BBU on-stage. The Tampa, Florida-based rapper continued BBU’s use of intricate electronic beats but brought her own energy and swagger to completely engross the crowd. The majority of the tracks she performed were off of her mixtape, “Domination.” That title also effectively summarized Young Unique’s performance as she completely took over the stage, appearing without hype-people.
The only part missing from Young Unique’s set was perhaps content, as songs like “Music for Millions,” “Pussy Poppin’” and “Show My Ass” did little to further the originality she claims with her stage-name, although they did provide great dance music.
Armed with nothing but an effervescent presence, talented flow and some extremely shiny tights, Young Unique mesmerized audience members as she gave the occasional charming and enthusiastic “thank you!” when a song wound to a close. The artist’s performance energy had the Gardner crowd dancing enthusiastically at the end of the night, as Young Unique closed her set with an encore after an audience chant of “One more song!”
“It’s my first time here,” Young Unique said, “I can’t wait to be back.”