A platform for artists to grow, a place to mingle
The word hip-hop can mean many different things depending on whom you ask.
For some it is simply a genre of music. Others may associate the word with gangster rap, video vixens and violence.
But for Beni Johnson, 28, it isn't just his culture — it is his life.
Each month he brings Calgary's hip-hop lovers 10 at 10: a Hip-Hop Showcase of Beats and Rhymes.
Much like the name infers, the night beginsat 10 p.m., and 10 artists are each given 10 minutes to perform.
This format allows for a variety of performances, with the purpose of showcasing the many different elements of hip-hop.
Those attending can expect to see everything from rappers, dancers, poets and more.
"There was a lack of opportunity in the city for artists to develop their craft," Johnson says. "I wanted to create a realm that allowed all styles of hip-hop music to take shape and represent their own, respectively."
10 at 10 acts as a platform for local artists to build a true fan base, Johnson says, by providing people with a place to network and feel a strong sense of community.
"Seeing new performers in a setting like this allows those watching to recognize potential and witness the growth of an artist."
A platform for hip-hop musicians
Rapper Kai Cheesman, 21, performed at 10 at 10 in February. But, long before his recent performance, he was in the audience taking notes on how to polish his skill as an MC.
Seeing other artists "showing what they've got" motivated him to want to do the same.
"I really pay attention to crowd control and how performers engage the crowd," Cheesman says. "I focus on what they're doing, good or bad and how the crowd reacts to that."
He says he now feels more confident in his ability to execute what he did at 10 at 10 in a bigger venue and in front of a larger audience — with hopes to one day fill an arena.
But it's not just musicians who are taking advantage of the event. Walking into the foyer, one can expect to see an array of beautiful artwork being displayed.
Figurative artist Ryan Postic, 35, has been showcasing his artwork at 10 at 10 for almost a year now.
Connecting his appreciation of the female body to the "mirror the artists holds," Postic explains that his art allows him to express how he views society — as well as hip-hop.
"Having the opportunity to showcase my work at 10 at 10 has really pushed me to grow as an artist," Postic says. "I don't want to recycle or show the same work every month so it's forced me to think outside the box and get out of my comfort zone."
This has meant taking his paintings of beautiful women — most often models or friends — to bed sheets, his most recent experiment.
"It's basically like being in school where you have an assignment due each month and
you want to score higher than the month before," Postic says.
"10 at 10 has become a staple of the cities nightlife and cultural identity," Postic says.
The event is held on the first Thursday of every month at UBU Lounge, except in special cases like this month when it will be held on Mar. 28.
- By Izzy Ahmed