On Tuesday, November 17th, the Gangway Beatz rappers from Berlin, Germany came to Professor Naison’s “Feeling the Funk” class. The Gangway group had been New York City before and had already visited Fordham University. Because it was their second time coming to one of Professor Naison’s classes, they knew some of my classmates he had taught in previous semesters.
This talented group free-styled for our class both with and without hip-hop beats to back them up. Each group member took turns spittin’ verses, building off of the energy from the other performers as well as the positive vibe from the class as a whole. The group asked the class to participate in their performances. We would sing along to the hip-hop chorus, nod our heads, or wave our hands in the air.
It is unbelievable to me how this group could come up with such innovative and insightful rhymes on the spot without having prepared anything ahead of time. While I am somewhat familiar with improvisation from tap dance lessons I have taken from experienced hoofers, I would certainly never be able to do what the Berlin rappers did. I may be able to make my feet move on the spot, yet I could not think quickly enough to create witty, powerful, and entertaining verses flow into one another so brilliantly.
Though none of us in the class could understand what the rappers were saying since they were speaking in German (except maybe our blogger Taylor who lived in Germany for two years), the performers occasionally explained what their raps were about. Much of what they discussed was political. They attempted to raise consciousness about social issues that were particularly important to them. Even when the rappers did not explain what they were saying, our class still loved listening to them.
It is beautiful how music can bring people from all different places together. Music can make the world seem much smaller than we tend to imagine it. People who speak different languages, have diverse life experiences, and who are of different ages can feel united as they experience music together.
Our class took a wonderful picture with the Gangway rappers. This picture is posted on Facebook as well as the Gangway group’s website (http://www.gangway.de/). Looking at the picture, you can’t really distinguish who’s a rapper from Berlin and who’s a Fordham student.