Students devoted to creating Kingston hip hop scene
Jeet Mondal (MSc’13) and Charles Gao (Com’12) want the Queen’s hip hop club to be much more than a club. They want to create a Kingston hip hop scene.
“It’s not just about dance. It’s a whole lifestyle and being part of a community,” says Mr. Mondal, who leads the KinetiQ Hip Hop Appreciation Club with Mr. Gao. “Kingston, because of its location, could be a hub for dancers and the culture. We want to create a hip hop scene that is sustained by both Queen’s students and community members.”
Mr. Mondal and Mr. Gao met several years ago through a previous incarnation of KinetiQ – the Queen’s Recreational Breakdance Club. Their big push to create a local hip hop scene came after the pair travelled to New York City – the “cultural mecca” of hip hop – where they truly realized the importance of camaraderie and connection, and a broader focus than just dance.
“The camaraderie is most important. The flashy moves are fun and transformative but it’s about the people and connecting with the music,” says Mr. Mondal.
Together the pair has smoothed the transition to KinetiQ, which more fully represents the culture’s four pillars: b-boying (or breakdancing), graffiti art, emceeing and deejaying. They are also dedicated to hip hop’s commitment to social outreach. They teach in the local community and as a special KinetiQ event, they are bringing a Queen’s alumnus back to campus – the renowned “b-boy” and social worker Stephen Leafloor (Artsci’82).
Mr. Leafloor, who is known by his dance name, “Buddha,” runs Blue Print for Life – an organization that hosts “social work through hip hop” programs in Canada’s north and inner cities. He’s been an active participant in hip hop culture since 1981. His visit to Queen’s will include a talk and hip hop “jam.”
“We want to dispel some of the myths surrounding hip hop – the emphasis on drugs, cars and swag – and bring in someone who has used hip hop for social good,” says Mr. Gao. “Buddha has worked in struggling communities across Canada and has been able to help people creatively channel negative energy and work through their problems.”
KinetiQ received a grant through the Student Affairs (SA) Student Initiative Fund to help with the costs of Mr. Leafloor’s visit to Queen’s. For more information on the Student Initiative Fund and to apply for funding, visit the SA website.