Urban music hits campus

G-D’Urban, a new student organization whose goal is to diversify music at the University and create a record label for GW students, had its first showcase Thursday night in the Marvin Center.

The group plans to host writing and producing sessions as well as semester shows with a corresponding compilation album. G-D’Urban organizers said it was formed to give musically talented students access to an expanding outlet and audience.

“Facebook is an amazing thing,” said co-founder Benson Mensah-Bonsu. “I knew GW was not too popular with urban music. We talked about making an urban record label for students.”

Mensah-Bonsu, a freshman, said he worked with freshman Ross Richardson to create a record label and student organization long before this year. Mensah-Bonsu is the brother of Pops Mensah-Bonsu, a 2006 alumnus and former varsity basketball player.

Richardson has a record label, Heaven Bless Records, in his hometown of Philadelphia. He brought a kit to school that allows interested singers and musicians to record on campus.

Thursday’s show, called G-D’Urbanization, featured several artists and groups who performed hip-hop, rap, rhythm and blues, and acoustics to a 60-member audience. Some of the artists who took the stage will be featured on an upcoming record, Mensah-Bonsu said. Freshman Sam Collins, who opened the night rapping with Richardson, is working on his first album called “The Beginning.”

“We record in the Marvin Center or in (Richardson’s) room,” Collins said. “I enjoy being able to showcase the stuff I’ve worked on. But I feel like I’m still a beginner. It’s still fun, but it’s also a challenge.”

Junior Jazzmine Hayes performed rhythm and blues covers of “Chariot” and “Mango” on the keyboard and played a song of her own, “Antisocial,” on the guitar.

“I enjoy other musicians coming out,” Hayes said. “I like seeing what they can do, what they share.”

Many of the people at the show did not initially plan to attend.

Al Demesme, a service worker at GW, helped set up the stage and decided to stay after he heard about what was going on.

“I was walking by and came in to listen,” he said. “I liked what I heard so I’ve prolonged the stay.”

Senior Gregory Hedlund said a lot of other schools have open mic night events and G-D’Urban’s plans are impressive.

“I think people here study a lot of political science, international affairs – things like that,” Hedlund said. “But they have an artistic side that may or may not have an outlet.”

G-D’Urbanization was the organization’s first sponsored event. A similar lineup to Thursday’s event will be performing at the GW Link Fest on April 29.

“Our future is pretty big,” Mensah-Bonsu said. “We wanted to get comfortable with the GW community.”

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