Vices: Beats, Rhymes & Lifestyle
ODU Students Indulge in Hip-Hop Culture
Numerous stereotypes, historical moments and clothing trends come to mind when referencing hip-hop, making it near impossible to define the richness that is hip-hop culture with a mere textbook definition. Hip-hop is a lifestyle. Hip-hop is art. Hip-hop is a culture. Known for its standards of quality, independent spirit and authenticity, the Student Hip-hop Organization is embodying all that is hip-hip while positively influencing college campuses and surrounding communities.
The Student Hip-hop Organization, also known as SHHO, was crafted in 2006 at Virginia Commonwealth University by Arnold Yun. Since then, SHHO has become a global organization, and has expanded into 14 established chapters, including five chapters that are based in Virginia. There are also numerous developing chapters.
“We’re in two countries now. We have a chapter in Toronto. We’re on the West Coast and we’re in the south,” said ODU chapter co-founder Charlie Duong.
Locally, ODU SHHO was founded in the fall of 2010. Since then, the chapter has remained relatively small, but that should not deter new interests. SHHO is an all-inclusive organization.
“It’s like family and community,” said chapter co-founder Glen Mosier.
SHHO does not have an official roster or a checklist of pre-membership requirements. The organization also doesn’t hold weekly general assembly meetings. People interested in SHHO and their work do not need an official membership invite, only able to understand SHHO’s movement.
“Basically, whoever just understands what we’re doing is a part of the organization,” said Duong.
Although ODU SHHO remains a small, tight knit group, there is room for growth. Those seeking to take a more active role in the organization need to be hard-working and dedicated to maintaining the standard of quality that SHHO prides itself in having.
Similar to hip-hop, SHHO is a blank canvas that allows its members to make the organization their own. Each SHHO chapter looks for creative, driven and talented college students who wish to merge their love for hip-hip with their individual talents and interests. SHHO is not synonymous with tradition, as they’re unique. SHHO is an organization that wants its members to foster, develop and strengthen their personal talents.
“It’s definitely a facet for creative expression,” said Mosier. “We have people that do graphic design, photography, videography and people that help throw the events. It’s a bunch of different stuff.”
ODU SHHO is tailored to fit the needs of the Norfolk area, but the chapter is not completely independent. The numerous SHHO chapters are interconnected.
“What people don’t understand is what we do as an organization is a culmination of all of us,” said Duong. “What Tech is doing is what ODU is doing. We’re a close-knit family. We go to other people’s events, we support what every chapter is doing, [and] we do promotions for other chapters. It doesn’t matter if they’re in New York or Atlanta.”
Ironically, the collective body of work that SHHO members do is often misinterpreted as promotional work.
“People have a misconception of what we are, [and] I want to kind of make it clear… We are not promoters. We don’t just throw shows,” Duong said.
Although, SHHO is much more than events, this is one of organization’s strong points. ODU SHHO has been responsible for a number of events that have taken place within the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area, including 2012’s benefit concert for fallen ODU student Christopher Cummings. The benefit concert not only honored the life of one of ODU’s own, it also brought three new, influential faces of hip-hop to an area not on their regular tour schedules. Those faces were rappers Blu, Tiron and Ayomari.
Occasionally, SHHO is accused of not supporting local hip-hop. SHHO does support and focus on local hip-hop. However, it has been difficult for the chapter to find emcees they can give their complete backing to. The chapter is fully aware that this is an area they could be stronger in.
“I guess I’d say [ODU SHHO] is lacking a little bit in some of the [support of] local people just because sometimes it’s hard to sift through the sand and try to find a pebble that’s worth checking out,” Mosier said.
This lack of local emcees backed by SHHO speaks to the organization’s opinionated nature and desire to build upon organic connections.
“I think that’s what makes SHHO great is that we have the ability and we take advantage of the ability to pick and choose what we love,” said Mosier.
Each SHHO chapter has the independence to support artists within their respective areas that they personally enjoy. This often is a difficult task for the organization because its chapter members need to support this artist collectively and the artist also needs to fit with the movement that SHHO has created and the standards of quality that SHHO has set.
“We have to really love what you’re doing to really support you. We have to know who you are, [and] respect your lifestyle. So, people kind of have to do the same with us if they want to work with us,” said Duong.
Although ODU SHHO is active within the Norfolk and Virginia Beach community, they have not forgotten their target audience, the students of ODU. They wish to throw more events on campus, but need someone on campus who is willing to work with their vision and that understands their organization.
“Our goal is to throw a huge show in North Café,” said Duong. “We would love to do [more] on campus. We just need the campus to understand us a little bit more.”
For more information about ODU SHHO visit odu.theshho.com or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about their brother chapters, visit theshho.com.
By: Dominique Bailey
Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor