By Amari Newman
On November 21, 2020, Hook and BKTHERULA appeared at the Dionysus Disco for the first night of WOBIE Fest, a three day music festival organized by student union booking organizations at Oberlin College: OHOP, F+ABB and SUPC, and its radio station, WOBC. The festival curates events that cater to all types of students, and encourages them to become involved in college radio.
Hailing from Riverside, California, Hook is a 21-year-old female rapper who hasquickly gained recognition throughout the underground as one of the most exciting artists on the scene. BK, who is from Atlanta, shares Hook’s buzz. Both artists collaborate on songs, appear in each other’s music videos, and perform together.
Along with Oberlin students, the audience included people from Columbus, Cleveland and other cities. After an hour of listening to a playlist of underground rap classics from the likes of Lucki, Black Kray, Babyxsosa and SlimeGoon9, BKTHERULA kicked off the night with her set. Hook joined BK onstage, delivering ad libs, dancing with and on top of her, and jumping into the crowd. Then, after a brief pause, Hook began her set. She wore a blue and yellow long-sleeved crop top with blue jeans pockmarked with holes, her pink dreads flowing over her outfit, and tan sunglasses.
Intense 808 bass patterns boomed through the venue, shaking the entire space, while Hook rapped in her unorthodox style. Often changing the timing of her delivery, and taking elaborate pauses in the middle of verses, Hook has developed a rap style that creates a disjointed bounce over any beat. Her energy seemed to be magnified in a live performance. The laughs, gasps, and ad libs delivered between her self-praising bars sounded like Hook was enthusiastically giving a speech about her greatness over a beat that aligned perfectly with whatever she said and however she said it.
The most notable characteristic of the performance was Hook’s stage presence. She completely captivated the crowd, organizing mosh pits, then flinging herself into its core. An invisible force field surrounded her, for everyone knew not to hit the orchestrator of the ongoing chaos. In the heat of all of the commotion, Hook asked the audience “Who wants me to spit in their mouth?” A fan immediately raised his hand, so Hook obliged. There was an initial pause of disbelief from the crowd, then the entire room erupted in applause and celebratory “ayees.”
Hook’s ability to incite disorder was balanced by her slower and more emotional songs. Before beginning “Iffy” she encouraged everyone to sit on the ground, calming their energy so they could digest her rendition of the song. Hook sat on the edge of the stage, then began to lay and roll on the ground, delivering emotion-filled lyrics about the unreliability of her past partners.
This moment of manufactured calm complemented the otherwise riot-like atmosphere. When she finished her set, seeing that they had another 30 minutes before the venue’s curfew, Hook and BK decided to perform six tracks from their unreleased joint EP. The crowd had never heard any of these songs, but the intense energy of the night persisted with crowd members jumping into one another and violently bobbing their heads.
It felt as if everyone had been put under a trance at the beginning of the night, which lasted all the way to the last song. Hook and BK’s music provided an opportunity for people to let out their pent-up energy and stress. It was an emotionally cleansing experience.