Hip-Hop at CSU

Dec 032003
Authors: Daniel Hallford

Hip-hop culture is about to get a lesson in skill, style and

sincerity. Brandon Ubanks, a.k.a. Varcity, 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 process.

The three roommates strive to achieve harmony on their two

upcoming records, “The Science of Mics” and “The Devil’s


“They love hip-hop music,” said Assefa, of the inspiration and

persistence of Ubanks, who is junior majoring in marketing and

Newsom, who is a 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 their eyes and ears open for any chance get

their message across.

“We’re making connections with as many opportunities as

possible,” Newsom said.

Ubanks’ second recording project, “The Science of Mics,” is

scheduled to be released in January. The full-length, 16-track disc

features him and his partner Newsom as a guest performer. The duo

recently finished their studio work at Next Level Studios in Denver

and are putting together their 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 about putting Varcity and Alpha out


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 Bluebird

Theater in Denver, for the signature “Hip-Hop Comedy Show” on Nov.


Ubanks’ upcoming solo release, “The Science of Mics,” is a

growth spurt for him.

“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,” Ubanks 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 that 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 pulls motivation and energy

from helping the famine situation in his home country.

“Being from Ethiopia, I feel like I have a 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 one dollar towards 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.”

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