If you don’t think that Athens, Ohio is a hub for up and coming hip-hop, you are sadly mistaken. This melting pot of a town, which we luckily call our home, is filled with unique qualities and one of those is the hip-hop culture. Provided mostly by OU students, the music scene is strong in talent and originality. It is a welcoming community for all those who wish to showcase their passion for music.
One of the OU students that has started his journey through hip-hop music in Athens is Peter Vilardi, a sophomore music production major. Beginning his freshman year, he attended the Hip-Hop Shop, a monthly event held at The Union that invites all those who wish to put themselves out there with their art. Among those performers are emcees, DJs, musicians, graffiti artists, break-dancers and spoken word poets. Vilardi, a rapper himself, credits all of his success thus far from the opportunities made available to him by the Hip-Hop Shop.
“It is a really chill, but really formatted way to get the hip-hop of Athens out there,” says Vilardi, who has been an active participant at the Hip-Hop Shop since he came to OU. Through the network of performers in Athens, he has become a part of a four-man group, The Underestimated. While contributing to the group and his solo career as MC Freeman, he has headlined a night at the Hip-Hop Shop, rapped at Pyramids and even performed at Palmer Fest.
“The Athens music scene is dope. There’s a lot of great musicians, but if they are playing to an empty house, nothing’s been accomplished,” said Vilardi,.
Athens is so weirdly great in all that it contains, especially in the talent that the students have the chance to bring forth. The more the word spreads about the artistic expression provided by students, the more potential for a thriving music scene.
After sharing a story about discovering a freestyle talent in a friend and bringing him to the music events, Vilardi adds, “The main thing is being who you are and being able to go out there and kill it and make new friends through it.”
As far as what the future holds for Vilardi in Athens, he says that he would love to be able to collaborate with the bigger names here, such as The Dysfunctional Family, and spread the word about music opportunities. After college, Vilardi would love to make it big as a rapper, but plans on becoming a music critic.
When writing and performing, Vilardi’s biggest musical influences are the early works of Kanye West and Mos Def. Growing as an artist, his influences have expanded to include MF DOOM, Common, Talib Kweli, Big L, Jurassic 5, Nas and J Dilla.
From this Bobcat’s personal experience with the music of Athens, it is clear to see that our home is pretty unique. With music events constantly playing throughout the town, it is easy to get your voice, or whatever skill you possess, heard.
Check out MC Freeman at the Hip-Hop Shop this Thursday, September 19th at The Union and his newest single Homewtown here: Hometown – MC Freeman