Smile Politely

Half House and Vorborg studios went head-to-head at Canopy Club Saturday night

Two individuals are standing in front of a red curtain. The individual on the left is attired in a gray polo shirt and has a camera draped around their neck. The individual on the right is dressed in a black hoodie and is positioned in front of a laptop adorned with stickers. The material of the curtain and the attire of the individuals contrast, providing a visually appealing composition.
Christian Jones

Two of the top recording studios in Champaign-Urbana faced off last Saturday night, November 18th, at Canopy Club, as part of the Champaign Cypher Series. Members of Half House Studios and Vorborg Studios performed head-to-head with each round decided by a crowd vote.

Half House Studios was spearheaded by lead engineer MousePad and Vorborg Studios by Vorborg himself. The two producers took the stage together and remained there throughout the night as the show went on in front of them.

Despite the Avengers: Civil War-style promotions, the focus was community building. “What I wanted was for artists from each studio to meet, like each other’s music and hopefully collaborate with each other, not just with me,” Mousepad said, “Building the community of hip-hop up was the goal of the night.”

A person is standing on a stage with a microphone in front of them. They are dressed in a grey hoodie that features a graphic design and have dreadlocks. Another individual, partially visible, is standing behind them. The backdrop of the scene is a red curtain. The overall setting suggests a performance or presentation scenario.
Christian Jones

Half House took the first round with performances from Dying Breed (DB) and SBG Malik. Each brought a completely different sound to Half House’s first performance as DB spit bars over hard trap beats on the songs “Paint a Picture” produced by Mousepad and “Cap Pord” by Dylan Cooker Hits.

SBG Malik sang soulfully over beats reminiscent of early 2000s R&B, and he was the only artist to bring such melodic themes to Canopy Club on Saturday. Though each of his songs was brief he caught the attention of the crowd quickly and kept it, including fellow artist A$AVV who exclaimed “He really different,” as Malik left the stage.

Half House’s win was not uncontested though. The reaction from the crowd was tough to read but the referee claimed Half House had won the crowd, I would’ve said otherwise. Due to the controversy, a sound meter app was used for the second round.

Vorborg’s crew won the second round as A$AVV and Wooder Moe stole the show. Wooder brought an energy that was lacking prior to his performance. Midway through his time he left the stage and went into the crowd, got the crowd to mosh with him and join in singing the chorus of his song.

Two individuals are on a stage illuminated by red, blue, and white stage lights. The individual on the left is dressed in a black t-shirt and is holding a microphone. The individual on the right is attired in a white t-shirt and is holding a laptop. The setting suggests a performance scenario.
Christian Jones

“I’ve been doing this since I was nine years old,” Wooder Moe said. “I would describe myself as an artist, when it comes to versatility that’s me, you can’t put me in a box, I can fit in with anybody.”

Wooder started working with Vorborg five years ago when the producer was making beats in his bedroom, he says. He performed “Been Steppin’” and “Goat Talk” on Saturday. As one of two women performing at Canopy on Saturday, A$AVV elicited a considerable response from the crowd as soon as she stepped on stage. Fortunately for those in attendance, she lived up to the hype.

With a sound similar to that of a few popular female rappers of today, A$AVV brings something familiar but rare. Her quick and at times raunchy rhymes hit hard over beats that one could easily imagine Sexxy Red or Flo Milli rapping over. In addition to musical talent, she displayed exceptional stage presence and crowd control, showing that she is clearly a seasoned performer.

The third round was a freestyle contest where Half House artist Eb, whose real name is Ebony, came out on top. Eb displayed a unique ability to rap off the dome, while also maintaining a flow of content that had meaning. Eb began rapping in public just last year, though he began performing music as a kid in
the church choir. Though he does not have any solo music currently available, he has released a duo project titled “Transitions” under the name IamLostTwo with co-creator JVY. Eb says he honed his freestyle skills through years of practice and the occasional word game.

Two individuals are on a stage set against a backdrop of a red curtain. The individual on the left is attired in a yellow hoodie featuring a white alien head design, complemented by a black baseball cap emblazoned with a white “LA”. The individual on the right is dressed in a blue hoodie and also sports a black baseball cap with a white “LA”. The stage is bathed in a mix of pink and purple lights, adding to the ambiance. A laptop adorned with stickers, is visible in the background.
Christian Jones

“I feel like freestyling is definitely something that differentiates me from other people because it’s one thing to write, it’s another thing to come up with the words off the top of the dome,” Eb said. “I gotta give credit to doing Madlibs a lot when I was in elementary school, it kinda gave me a vast database of words to go to and gather at any moment.”

Though the was considered a success by both sides, Vorborg doesn’t feel like they “lost” the competition and as such would like a rematch. Due to the iffy crowd noise system he thinks something new should be done for the next show.

“Unfortunately for me, the members of Half House are extremely loud and won by quite a bit, I’m debating whether we should have a rematch with judges next time,” Vorborg said. “Despite losing, the night was a huge success for the artists, the crowd, and the community. It was a great way to promote the two most prominent recording studios in Champaign and as a DJ, pleasing the crowd is something I always plan to do and it’s something I think we did very well that night,” concluded Vorborg.

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