Section: Arts

Special Dogs revamp hip-hop group for new year

Special Dogs revamp hip-hop group for new year

Jane Simonton | Arts Editor

Evan More, Dylan Jones-Tuba and Noah Morayniss, juniors, have been making music together since sixth grade.

All hail from the Los Angeles area and share a love for rap and freestyling. They were itching to start a freestyling club, and it didn’t take long until More and Lucas Pastorfield-Li ’15 met in astronomy class.

“[Pastorfield-Li was] beat-boxing leaving astronomy, and I was like, ‘Oh, you like to beatbox?’” More said.

Pastorfield-Li said yes, and over the course of an impromptu Wednesday night freestyle competition on the steps of Hanna and a visit from Pastorfield-Li’s freestyling friend from home, whom Pastorfield-Li invited More to meet, the idea of a freestyling club at Kenyon was born.

“We were all looking for the same thing, so we all came together, registered as a student organization, rented out the old Black Box [Theater, and] freestyled there with some random appearances from some people,” More said.

And with that, Special Dogs was born. The Dogs — spelled the correct way: “there’s only one ‘g’ and sometimes we throw the ‘aw,’ but that’s only when we’re talking to each other,” More said — is a group committed to the development of hip-hop as an art form on campus.

“Special Dogs, to me, is some fun guys who are just trying to make, in raw form, hip-hop creations,” Pastorfield-Li said.

Special Dogs has existed since the 2011-2012 academic year, but this semester marks a change in the way they do things.

“Last year we were just some guys who liked to do music, who liked to perform, and this year we’re really making it much more inclusive because we understand that not everybody is a freestyler and not everybody is really musically oriented, but we understand that so many people at Kenyon like hip-hop music [and] want to talk about that,” More said.

“So we want this also to be an outlet for conversation and dialogue,” Pastorfield-Li said. “You go to class and talk about your readings, … but why can’t we do that on our own time as well for stuff we want to do, not dictated by a professor or anything?”

Their main goal, though, is to spread the gospel of freestyle.

“I’m a huge advocate of freestyling,” Pastorfield-Li said. “When I started getting … better at it … I noticed that in my classes I was being much more productive and active in discussions and stuff, and I was much more analytical. … It just opened up another window, another perspective that I think is crucial. There are these mental dams in our brains, and it just has a way of dissolving them.”

The Dogs plan to incorporate all of these ideas by holding meetings twice a week on Tuesdays and Sundays. Their Tuesday meetings will be more performance-based, with an invitation extended not only to freestylers and rappers but also to those who have an interest in filming music videos, graphic design, graffiti, graph-writing, DJing, producing tracks, spoken word, breakdancing and choreographing. Sunday meetings will be structured around the appreciation of a chosen rapper, such as Vic Mensa or Chance the Rapper. Sundays will include more opportunity for discussion about the ideas behind rap and hip-hop.

The Special Dogs are trying to grow, so they encourage all with any interest to join them.

“We’re trying to make this group bigger because it’s really just be the core four of us and random people who come in and out, and we want a bigger commitment,” More said. “We just want to really try to get people to give freestyling a shot, and those who do to practice it and get better at it and continue it for when we leave, so there’s more Special Dogs continuing freestyling.”

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