Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rapping With Ozomatli
by Dertrick Winn Jr.

After a long afternoon here at GRAMMY Camp® of panels, Q&A, celebrities, and interviews it was finally time to just sit down and listen to some good music. It was a surprise performance by Ozomatli, a well-known band from right here in LA. Being from Austin, Texas, I didn’t hear about them until a day before I knew they were coming to camp. But they played a nice blend of different genres of music, including pop, rock, Latin, dance, and hip hop.

Earlier that day, I interviewed one of the band’s lead singers, Asdru Sierra. I figured if the rest of the band is half as cool as this guy, they should put on a really good show, and that’s exactly what they did. During the first song they invited any GRAMMY® Campers who played instruments to join them in their performance. Their second song, “After Party,” was a nice up-tempo, rhythmic tune that was really hard to sit still to.

They were all ready to start their next song when a question came from one of the audience members. “Hey, can any rappers join you [on stage]?” The band replied with a hail of “Yeah” and “Sure, dude, go ahead.” As the crowd applauded once more a new feeling of excitement came over me. Though I am here as a journalist, I am also a performing rap artist, and was taught to take advantage of any opportunity to perform. As they began their next song, my feeling turned to nervousness. I began to question myself: “How will the crowd react to a fellow camper doing rap music? Will I get laughed at? And furthermore, what would I say?”

Before I could say to myself, ‘‘Dude, just do it,” my friend and fellow camper Trevy Kiy took the stage alongside Ozomatli. He was handed the mic and began rapping as the band continued to play. It was just the extra boost of confidence I needed. Trevy finished up as the crowd applauded, and that’s when I made my move. I took my place next to Trevy, shook his hand, and anxiously awaited the cue from the bass player, who was singing into the mic at the time. The bridge slowly approached, as the bass player (who I later found out was Wil-Dog Abers) finished singing the hook and handed me the mic. I didn’t waste a second, performing hard, moving around and shouting into the mic, finding pieces of songs, freestyling, and thinking as fast as I could. It went on about half a verse before I just felt like a rap machine if you will. I didn’t really care about anything but the music and the lyrics. But unfortunately, I couldn’t stay up there forever. I eventually finished a second verse, accepted my applause, and stayed by the stage for the rest of the song. It was definitely a GRAMMY Camp highlight, and an experience I won’t soon forget.

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