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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Shared passion of basketball and music inspires student rappers

Published: October 12, 2012
Section: Features

Having always possessed a love for music, Ishmael Kalilou ’15 anticipates his upcoming performance alongside peers Youri Dascy and Connor Arnold at Chums later this month. Despite the fact that it will be his first live performance rapping to an audience, Kalilou is not plagued by nerves, but rather looks forward to the event with a blend of excitement and confidence.

The event, which is being held on Oct. 26 to promote Flight School Clothing, an emerging line developed by student Shami Berry, will feature musical performances by students such as Kalilou.

Tracing the development of their musical collaboration, Kalilou explained that Dascy and Arnold would often rap freestyle, recalling the day when they had asked him to spontaneously join. Describing the moment, he said, “It just took off from there. We liked to freestyle; we just decided to go with it and start making songs.”

As a collaborative process, Kalilou, Dascy and Arnold search the internet for beats before crafting their lyrics. Although initially they would gather together to write the lyrics, due to the diverse nature of their living conditions this year, they oftentimes each write a section of the song independently before merging their work. This unique writing process bears the inevitable potential for issues to arise, for the verses must be able to combine into a single cohesive song.
Kalilou, however, revealed that the process yields success the majority of the time, since the messages associated with the lyrics tend to be relevant to one another.

Describing the inspiration behind his lyrics, Kalilou expressed the desire to incorporate humor into his work. While identifying Kanye West and Jay Z as his favorite artists, he explained that his primary motivation is to “have the fans and the public liking the music, laughing at it and enjoying it.”

Referencing their style musically, Kalilou commented on the explicit nature of their lyrics.

“The music is explicit, but it’s all in good fun. We’re not trying to offend anyone,” he said.

He continued to describe their capacity for incorporating diverse styles into their music, having produced songs ranging from R&B to hip hop to slow songs. Commenting on this ability, he stated, “We are all so versatile; we can deliver in many ways.”

Beyond their musical collaboration, the bond between Kalilou, Dascy and Arnold transcends their interaction on stage. As members of the basketball team here at Brandeis, Kalilou explains that their identity as teammates has enforced their close bond. Describing the nature of their friendship, Kalilou reveals, “We are all ridiculously funny individuals. If you spent the day with us, you’d be laughing the whole time.” Possessing a sense of humor that can be traced in their lyrics as well, Kalilou declared, “We are the life of the party.”

Although the date of their first performance is approaching, Kalilou remains unperturbed. Explaining his lack of nerves, Kalilou states, “We know most of the kids at Brandeis,” asserting, “We are excited and ready to go.” He reveals that the group has selected four or five songs to perform at Chums.