Rap battle sparks debate

The group of students who participated in the freestyle on October 20th
The group of students who participated in the freestyle on October 20th

Debate is brewing over a recent incident that occurred on Tuesday after all of the of the official BC’s Got Talent contestants performed their act.

After the show, a group of four students, mostly male with the exception of one female, began to freestyle rap. To freestyle means to make up lyrics or beats as you go along, rather than having them written beforehand.

During their “cypher,” better known as a freestyle circle, Professor of Italian and Spanish, Beatrice Bongiorno, entered the cafeteria where the talent show was being held.

According to Bongiorno, the group was rapping about “some very graphic sexual content and a few words were indeed ‘disguised.” Bongiorno also stated in her email that, “[the raps] all spoke of sex and objectifying women.  I do not find it artistic and entertaining in the least.”

Bongiorno found the raps “appalling,” and was prompted to write an email to Nora Lance, the Associate Director of Student Programs to bring attention to the situation.

According to Lance’s official response, after receiving Bongiorno’s email, “the Student Programs staff met with students associated with the event.  [They] all agreed that an apology [was] necessary.”

Bongiorno then sent another email to Lance. Bongiorno thanked Lance for responding on behalf of the students and reiterated her previous point that “the vulgarity displayed was shameful, embarrassing, and the low-end of American pop culture, way below BC standards.”

Bongiorno also accepted the invitation to meet with students to talk about the incident and “apologize in person if they so wish.”

An official apology was issued at the beginning of the second portion of BC’s Got Talent on Thursday afternoon before any of the contestants performed, and didn’t receive much of a response from the audience.

During the talent show on Thursday, the group C – Note Ave., formed of BC student Tristan Sindayen and his friend who does not attend BC, performed the same rap that they performed Tuesday after the talent show.

The issue of freedom of speech has also been brought up as a result of the debate. Some students feel as if they are being censored, and other students believe that freestyle is a form of art, and to censor it would stifle it.

However, there are also some students who believe that the material of the rap was offensive and misogynistic and that an apology was in order.

Mikeya Harper, a BC student of two years, who was the only girl on the stage rapping during the incident, said that she “noticed some people who had the mic were saying things that could be offensive.”

According to Harper, the incident provides an excellent opportunity for an open discussion. “Students and staff should discuss the different perspectives,” said Harper who frequently attempts to address misconceptions within her own raps.

Harper had a message for her fellow students: “be aware of your words, because they may have an impact on a person in either a negative or positive way according to that individual [‘s interpretation].”