Hip-Hop Society: Meet (and join) St Andrews’ freshest society

ST.ART sat down with Sam West, 4th year history student and president of Hip-Hop Society, to hear about what St. Andrews’ newest society and to learn about how we can get involved. And, if you want to hear some of the music which Hip-Hop Society is currently loving or want to listen to an introduction to the genre especially designed for our ST.ART readers, check out our collab playlists!

ST.ART: Why did you want to start Hip-Hop Society?

Sam: I felt that in St Andrews, a lot of people actually like Hip-Hop, but there wasn’t any way to bring them together. Occasional events at the Vic or the Union maybe, but that was about it. So, I thought it would be fun to organise a group of people with a shared passion for Hip-Hop to discuss it. Because I like discussing it, I like going to events where Hip-Hop music is the focus, and I like talking to people who feel the same. So, that’s basics of it: I thought it would be cool to bring together people who felt the same way about Hip-Hop. 

ST.ART: Have you found that Hip-Hop has been able to facilitate relationships etc?

Sam: Yeah, definitely. To give an example from first year, I bonded with my roommate because we both loved Hip-Hop: that’s how we got to know each other, exploring our shared interests together. I think definitely with Hip-Hop, perhaps because of all the wordplay and personalities, people who do love it are so keen to talk about it and share it with others. Even within the society so far, I’ve had great discussions with people, and I’m hoping we can continue to grow and create lasting relationships through the society

ST.ART: The society’s emphasis, then, seems to be on discussion? Is this how you stand out from other societies? 

Sam: There’s a fantastic output of societies here for people who play and appreciate music. But, obviously, you don’t have to be able to play or sing to love it. I can’t really rap myself, but that doesn’t stop me listening to it every chance I get and it doesn’t stop me wanting to introduce other people to the genre. But we also want to get more ambitious this semester; see some gigs, maybe organize some nights out.

ST.ART: So, when did your interest in Hip-Hop start?

Sam: Well, I’d always kind of like Eminem casually, as everybody does. And I remember him referencing N.W.A and I just started listening to them. Just this spotty, lanky, nerdy teenager listening to ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and ‘Express Yourself.’ Everyone at first just thought it was a phase; all my friends thought I was joking and my mum hated me playing it in the house. But I was addicted and it spiraled from there; from that I got into Dr. Dre’s old stuff, Snoop Dogg’s old stuff and then I started buying an old classic album every week, just to expand my knowledge.

ST.ART: Your interest in the genre started when you were still in school, then. Have you found St Andrews and Hip-Hop society has taught you things about the genre too, continued to develop this passion? 

Sam: Definitely. This is the brilliant thing about Hip-Hop society. Before, I’d always looked on the internet for new music recommendations, but already in the society people are coming along and introducing us to new songs, new albums. There have been loads of suggestions for British Grime, for example, I used to just sort of dismiss that but now I’m really getting into it. Listening to others suggestions and getting your own opinion across too is a great way to build new friendships and broaden your music tastes. 

ST.ART: Is that the main social point for Hip-Hop society events then?

Sam: Basically, we try and do a discussion club every two weeks. We pick one classic album, and one more obscure album: the idea is that everyone can talk about what they already love, and discover an artist they might not have heard much about before. The discussion then escalates from there, sometimes it gets a bit heated, but that’s the fun of it. And, as we grow bigger, we’re planning to get more ambitious with our events, kind of expand discussion clubs to listening parties. Fingers crossed we’ll get an event sorted with the union too: we have an idea in the works for one called ‘The Life of Pablos’, a sort of Kanye West themed night. We would also like to leave the Bubble a couple times this semester; there are some great hip-hop artists who come to Edinburgh and Glasgow especially and we would love to go on a few trips out. 

ST.ART: At the moment you’re fairly small, having only established yourself this year. In what ways — events aside — do you see the society growing? 

Sam: Basically, I’m hoping to just expand the community. We want to build a community of people who like Hip-Hop who can go to the pub and just talk about something we all love. We would like to spread out and explore Hip-Hop in lots of different ways: if the interest was there, I’d be up for starting a blog reviewing albums and talking about the issues that surround Hip-Hop. We’ve got a radio show, and we’d love to get more guests on there and have others share their interests. Collaborating with other societies is also a goal. We would love to have more people get more involved in all aspects of the running of the society so we can expand our scope for events and publicity. Our main aim is to pass it on to someone else next year and ensure it will continue to run! 

ST.ART: How should people reading this get in touch of you?

Sam: Give us a message on the Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/standrewshiphopsoc/], or drop me an email at sjw24. 

ST.ART: And to leave with, who is your favourite artist at the moment?

Sam: I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for The Wu Tang Clan, who are a group of nine rappers. They’re very gritty, brilliant lyrically, and each rapper is so individual and different that their tracks are all diverse and fresh. If we’re talking more recently, I’m also really into Mick Jenkins, a very jazzy, talented and socially conscious rapper from Chicago - I’d really recommend checking him out, especially his new album ‘The Healing Component’. 

ST.ART Magazine