The Oberlin Review

SleepWalker Freshman List 2020

Amari Newman and Quentin Zimbalist

July 3, 2020

We are SleepWalker Entertainment. Starting off in 2018 as a radio show on Oberlin College’s WOBC 91.5 FM dedicated to highlighting underground hip-hop and the community that surrounds it, we have expanded into the journalistic side of music, publishing various reviews, lists, and articles related to music. These have ranged from album of the year lists to interviews with different musicians who have performed at Oberlin including Suzi Analogue, VRITRA, Ethereal, NAPPYNAPPA, and SIR E.U. Right around this time last year we published our very first Freshman List, built off XXL magazine’s idea of highlighting artists relatively new to the rap game who gained a lot of attention in the past year. Seeing how XXL’s list seeme...

The members of AndWhat!? pose for a pre-show portrait.

AndWhat!? Fall Show “Vulnerability is Power” Opens Tonight

December 13, 2019

It is impossible to sit in on an AndWhat!? rehearsal and not be blown away by the power and energy they build. In their drive to rehearse each piece again and again until it is just right, and their ability to channel complicated and raw emotions into moving pieces, the group’s hard work, energy, and talent are palpable. AndWhat!? is a powerhouse hip-hop group that slays each performance, and creates an important space at Oberlin. “AndWhat!? was founded [in 1999] on the idea of Black female...

Female, Trans, Femme Dance Group Throws Back with PowerPuff Girls

Ananya Gupta, Arts & Culture Editor

May 11, 2018

POC Powerpuff Girls performing hip-hop to the tunes of Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna is the perfect end to a gruelling semester at Oberlin. AndWhat!?, Oberlin’s hip-hop dance group for female, trans and femme identifying students, will be performing their spring show “AndWhat!? Presents: Powerpuff Girls Remixed” on Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12 at 8 p.m. For those unfamiliar with The Powerpuff Girls, the theme refers to the Cartoon Network show that premiered in 1992 and featured three female superhero sisters who protect their town from crime. Rather than showcasing masculine superwomen, the show was surprisingly progressive for its time, illustrating feminine characters who kick ass — a perfect ...

Ruby Ibarra, rapper.

Ruby Ibarra, Rapper

April 27, 2018

Ruby Ibarra is a rapper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Born in the Philippines, Ibarra immigrated to the United States when she was 4 years old in the 1990s. Growing up, she was introduced to hip hop by listening to rappers like Tupac, Eminem, and Wu Tang Clan. Ibarra started rapping as a teenager, and is known for her sharp lyricism and rhythmic flows. In 2010, she started releasing YouTube videos, which have since been featured in XXL Magazine and Worldstar Hip Hop. Her debut mixtape, Los...

Abdu Ali played the first ’Sco show of the semester on last Saturday, energizing the crowd with original style and call-and-response performance.

Abdu Ali Delivers Genre-Bending ’Sco Performance

September 1, 2017

Newly arrived students were in for a treat when the ’Sco opened with an exceptionally strong orientation show Satuday night. Baltimore emcee, poet, rapper, and activist Abdu Ali and his crew brought a mix of highly energetic Afro Rave songs that left the audience physically shaken by the performance’s sheer volume. For the first-years who formed their first impressions of the ’Sco that night, the standard for future performances will be set unusually high, while for returning students, thi...

Kweli, Hip-Hop Icon, Discusses Activism in Music

Daniella Brito

April 22, 2016

There weren’t any “murals of Biggie,” but Brooklyn beats reverberated off the walls of Hales Gymnasium this past Friday night as an energetic audience cheered ’90s New York hip-hop icon Talib Kweli onto the stage. Mixing lyrically powerful old-school block party hits over more recent beats, DJ Spinna Black set the tone for Talib’s set: a return to powerful, socially conscious verse in hip-hop. This form of lyricism is what distinguished Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s Brooklyn-based duo, Black Star, in the late 1990s. Rising in the wake of the murders of legendary rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, Black Star countered the violence in mainstream hip-hop. They did so alongside the established hip-hop collective...

Feature Photo: Noname Gypsy

Feature Photo: Noname Gypsy

November 20, 2015

Hip-hop artist Fatimah Warner, known by her stage name Noname Gypsy, performs at the ’Sco among supportive fans. The Femme Artists Breaking Boundaries Initiative, which brought Noname Gypsy to Oberlin on Friday, hosted a question and answer session during which she talked about the importance of femme artists in hip-hop, how labels can divide the rap community and the politics of music ownership. She performed later that night with femme rapper Sasha Go Hard, a prominent artist in Chicago...


Taylor McFerrin croons to an energetic audience Thursday Nov. 12 at the ’Sco.  McFerrin’s music contains elements of hip-hop and neo-soul in addition to jazz.

McFerrin Melds Jazz with Neo-Soul, Hip-Hop Beats

November 20, 2015

Almost everyone at Taylor McFerrin’s show last Thursday danced through the night. Warmed up and ready, McFerrin had no difficulty energizing dancers with neo-soul and hip-hop beats. The Brooklyn-based DJ, producer and singersongwriter certainly proved that he does not need to ride on the fame of his father, vocalist and conductor Bobby McFerrin, to achieve success in the future. If Taylor McFerrin ever grappled with living under his father’s shadow, he definitively stepped out of it with the...

Liturgy stares contemplatively into the distance. Fresh off the release of their electronic-tinged third album, The Ark Work, the Brooklyn-based black metal outfit will play at the ’Sco this Saturday at 10 p.m. Support will come from Sannhet and Horse Lords.

Controversial Band to Combine Disparate Styles

April 10, 2015

“Some people think the record is a joke,” Liturgy frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix said of his band’s just-released third album, The Ark Work, in an email to the Review. “Others describe it using phrases like ‘mad genius,’ ‘masterpiece,’ ‘ahead of its time’ and so on. This is certainly the type of record that is aiming for that type of status, for better or for worse.” Liturgy will likely perform cuts from the album at the ’Sco this Saturday at 10 p.m, giving attendees a chanc...

Criticisms of Hip-Hop Reflect Misconceptions

James Tanford, Contributing Writer

February 27, 2015

I see the small, judgmental glint in my friend’s eye as he looks over my music playlist. Common. The Roots. Kanye West. Joey Bada$$. Lupe Fiasco. Hopsin. Black Star. He’s thinking, he listens to rap? He hands me my phone back, disgusted, and proceeds to lecture me on how this “music” is degrading, unintelligent and how, because I’m white, I shouldn’t really even be listening to it. Um ... excuse me? In five seconds, he just exemplified every misconception people hold about rap: that it is a skill-less mishmash of sex, drugs and misogyny. This is unfair. Hiphop gets a bad rap; at its best, it’s skillful, poetic and politically aware commentary that has messages for everyone. Think it doesn...

Devoted Crowd Flocks to Mick Jenkins’s Raucous Underground Concert

Jake Frankenfield

February 13, 2015

Content warning: This article contains a racial slur printed in full. The word is part of an artist’s stage name. Mick Jenkins’ most recent record, the widely acclaimed The Waters, is known for its submerged, atmospheric production and intricate wordplay. Hailed as one of the best mixtapes of 2014, The Waters established Jenkins as a preeminent Chicago MC. Jenkins is currently touring with Saba Pivot, Noname Gypsy and a budding rapper affiliated with the Joey Bada$$-helmed Pro Era collective, Kirk Knight. Chicago has been central to the development of hip-hop as a genre since the early 1990s. In the ’90s, Chicago offered Twista; in the early 2000s, the city produced Kanye West and Common. Today, as hip-...

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