Hip-hop culture is about to get a lesson in skill, style and
sincerity. Brandon Ubanks, a.k.a. Varcity, and Jeremy Newsom,
a.k.a. Alpha, blend humanitarian and rhyme-hungry beats that cannot
be found anywhere else. Their manager, Yoseph Assefa, who is a
junior open option major, is also part of the production
The three roommates strive to achieve harmony on their two
upcoming records, “The Science of Mics” and “The Devils’
“They love hip-hop music,” Assefa said of the inspiration and
persistence of Ubanks, who is junior majoring in marketing, and
Newsom, who is sophomore majoring in speech communication. Assefa
has been by them all the way as manager and long-time friend.
“They’re my friends, that’s what friends do,” he said. “We’re
working on it until it happens.”
The trio is keeping its eyes and ears open for any chance get
its message across.
“We’re making connections with as many opportunities as
possible,” Newsom said.
Ubanks’ second recording project, “The Science of Mics,” is
scheduled for release in January. The full length, 16-track disc
features him and his partner Newsom as a guest performer. The duo
recently finished its studio work at Next Level Studios in Denver
and is putting together its next project, “The Devils’ Playground,”
to be released sometime next summer.
“We’ve been slowly movin’ up. We’re all friends first, and it’s
always been about the music,” Assefa said. “We used that money that
we got from our first record, and we’re putting it together to make
another album. It’s all putting Varcity and Alpha out there.”
Their first record was a small six-song collection that
jump-started their recording career, but they expect even better
quality with each new release.
Ubanks and Newsom are constantly on the move, and their talent
is on display all across Colorado. The duo recently MC’d the
Bluebird Theater in Denver for the signature “Hip-Hop Comedy Show”
on Nov. 13.
“The Science of Mics” is a growth spurt for Ubanks.
“It’s more mature, the subject matter is more deep. It has more
spiritual content and focuses on the future, letting people know
what they can do to help their community,” he said. “Hip-hop
focuses on the youth, on Generation X. I think hip-hop can reach
more people than any other genre of music.”
Ubanks is inspired by the hip-hop masters who came before him
and wants to further the cause they have started.
“I’m inspired by past artists, I want to do for others what they
did for me. Any black leader that’s had a voice is an inspiration
to me,” he said.
Their music promotes positive community throughout the
Assefa is a native Ethiopian, and he pulls motivation and energy
from helping the famine situation in his home country.
“Being from Ethiopia, I feel like I have that responsibility,
because I got the chance to live out here,” Assefa said.
Assefa, Ubanks and Newsom started a program encouraging every
student on campus to contribute $1 toward the famine situation in
Africa. The three are planning to visit Africa the summer of 2005,
after they have all graduated from CSU.
“We’re not into the money and the fame. We’re using the voice of
hip-hop to get the point across,” Ubanks said. “There are a lot of
hip-hop artists that are in a position to use their voice for
something good and don’t. It needs to provide a basis for something
bigger than music.”
Newsom said that the stuff on television makes him angry,
referring to how hip-hop is bashed and thrashed, and the uncreative
ruts artists fall into when they become famous.
“What you write down, it’s from the heart, and hopefully I can
get people to think a different way,” Newsom said. “I go and do
what I do best, and let the people get what they can from it.”
Ubanks and Newsom play every Wednesday in Fort Collins at The