Hip-hop performers blast covers, original music

The Knight Spot hosted a hip-hop performance Friday, featuring two up-and-coming young artists, Geneseo's own Nabil Vargha, a senior, and long-time MC Badi Meccouri.

The duo covered songs of well-known rap and hip-hop artists, as well as showcasing some original material produced by their new group, Eastbound. DJ LJS provided background spinning and scratching, though his role seemed minimal compared to the powerful singing abilities of the two rappers.

Though a half hour delay took away some of the audience's initial eagerness, the show's powerful opening helped to make up for the wait. Vargha and Meccouri opened with a rendition of Jay-Z and T.I.'s "Swagger Like Us," which got students off of their feet and dancing. The choice opener attracted the crowd's attention and set the mood for the rest of the night.

"Swagger Like Us" quickly led into the crowd favorite "Paper Planes," originally by M.I.A. During the choruses, the audience sang along with Vargha and Meccouri. Other familiar covers included Lil' Wayne's "A Milli" and Jay-Z and Lil' Wayne's "Mr. Carter," the lyrics of which Nabil humorously changed to "Mr. Vargha" to personalize the song.

Although the duo attracted listeners with covers, Vargha and Meccouri's original work offered the audience a better understanding of their style and creative talent.

Halfway through the show, Vargha took a break from hip-hop classics to discuss the recent creation of Eastbound. "The concept of our group is that we both have roots spiritually and physically in the Middle East," he said.

He emphasized Eastbound's desire to infuse Eastern and religious influences with the Western phenomenon of hip-hop, which allows them to pursue their musical passions while staying true to their heritages and faith.

Songs like "Fly Back," a poetic dedication to Vargha's hometown, and "Sidewalkin'," a song about alienation and connection in the city streets, contributed to this socially-conscious and culturally-celebratory image of Eastbound.

Rounds of applause by the impressed audience followed the completion of the hip-hop show as Vargha and Meccouri took their final bows. The performance went over well with students and was a welcome change of pace with the usual solo independent rock/pop singer/songwriters which GLK tends to book.