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Purgatory's Playground



Fordham University


Purgatory's Playground

Cole Coyer


Read time: 9 minutes.

Rap musicians have evolved from misunderstood poets to leaders of American culture. It's rare to find a contemporary rapper who doesn't have their hand in fashion, philanthropy, or visual art. Fordham Hip-Hop collective Hippie Tribe (Niko Thorpe [17’] and De’Nard Pickey [15’]) recently held Purgatory’s Playground at 988 Manhattan in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, an art show that included live performances, visual art, and plenty of liquor.

988 Manhattan is a Brooklyn loft apartment converted into an ideal small concert venue – small enough for an intimate vibe but large enough for comfort. Fordham students packed the venue alongside friends and fans of the various artists. Artists included Fordham students and artists local to the Tri-State area.

The event’s theme was “Seven Deadly Sins”. Artist’s created pieces inspired by the theme which were displayed alongside original works. When I spoke with Hippie Tribe for the first Rival Live Session, De’Nard Pickney (aka DP the Hippie) explained his reasoning for the event’s theme. “Purgatory is where you go to cleanse yourself before heaven. Art lets you get the negativity out of you.” The “Seven Deadly Sins” theme correlates with the concept of releasing your inner demons in purgatory and was a great basis for artists to create around. With that said, the artist's’ diverse personalities shined through their original works and contributed to the authentic ambiance of Purgatory’s Playground

“Purgatory is where you go to cleanse yourself before heaven. Art lets you get the negativity out of you.” -De'Nard Pickney

For their visual contribution to the show, Hippie Tribe called upon fellow Fordham alum artist Julia Cassano (‘16) to create artwork inspired by their most recent release, “Borrowed Not Stolen”. Julia has known De’Nard and Niko since they began Hippie Tribe and watched them grow as artists and individuals, making her a natural decision for the “Seven Deadly Sins” piece.

The 16 x 20 drip style acrylic/watercolor painting is titled “Mariah,” inspired by a recurring figure in “Borrowed Not Stolen” that represents lust and sexuality. After meeting to listen to the mix-tape and discuss ideas, the Tribe and Julia settled on lips to be the focal point of the work. Julia is working on a second drip style painting to accompany “Mariah”. The complementary piece will embody the somewhat morbid risks of passion and love, contrasting with the seductive nature of the initial painting.

  • Instagram: jooolez_

Elliot Fant

The first live performer of the evening was 31 year-old poet, Elliot Fant. Elliot lives in Newark, New Jersey and had not met Hippie Tribe until the day of the event. He is prolific writer who has released two books of poetry, “The Execution of Revolution” and “The Long Way Home”.

Fant’s performance of spoken word poetry was as commanding as it was emotional. Before performing, he explained, he assesses an audience and conducts his performance accordingly. Elliot began his set with an extremely powerful, somewhat improvised, piece of slam poetry that radiated intensity. For Fant to captivate a liquored young crowd, he needed to deliver his verses with an edge – and so he did. As he referenced powerful social leaders and pointed out societal contradictions, he moved with authority. For his second piece, with the crowd now tuned in, Elliot delivered his movie-inspired poem “Like a Cinema” with the same gritty grace.

One does not need to read much of Fant’s poetry to realize the nature of his work. His introspective views are honest and his world views molded by reflections of his life’s progression. Elliot’s performance was comparable to Rage Against the Machine’s Zach de la Rocha in his prime yet the only instrument backing the poet was his tongue. The strongest part of Elliot’s performance was his delivery and not his words. This is not meant to diminish the quality of Fant’s writings; rather, it is that every word he spoke could be felt in his presentation. Elliot’s words were moving him and fueled his fiery performance.

Dayne Carter

Following Fant was another Fordham alum, Dayne Carter (’15). After an unexpected middle school talent show victory, Carter decided to give rapping an actual shot. He formed a group with friends and honed his abilities throughout his high school years. Throughout college, he continued to rap and write music but did not release any content. Carter now performs as a solo act and has a few (fire) tracks on SoundCloud that have grossed over 20k streams in five short months. One of Carter’s top tracks is “Need Nobody”. This polished rap track boasts verses with smooth phrasing and sharp cadences delivered with swagger. Carter’s singing voice complements his rap flow in a manner reminiscent of Drake and makes him a dual-threat in terms of song writing.

Dayne’s records make for remarkable performances.. Carter’s music is stylish and suits his lyrical style well. His energetic performance at Purgatory’s Playground let his true personality show. His facial expressions flopped from wide-smiles to intense concentration as he delivered hook and verse respectively. Carter invited the crowd to help him dish out the hook his most popular track “Pull Up” and worked through the initial lax response with poise and coaxed the crowd to his desired level of energy. To avoid awkwardness in a venue as small as 988 Manhattan and motivating a hesitant crowd shows Dayne has what it takes to survive the limelight.

Carter plans to drop a project in early 2018 but couldn’t offer a tentative release date. Check out his SoundCloud and if you can, I recommend seeing this man do his thing.

  • Instagram: @ayodayne

Last but certainly not least was the Tribe. After hours of making sure the booze was iced and the crowd was enjoying themselves, DP the Hippie and the Blonde Bomber, backed by DJ Billy Blanko, hit the stage. Hippie Tribe performed tracks off their most recent mix-tape “Borrowed Not Stolen”, a far-cry from their previous artistic endeavor “On the Outside Looking Out” (OTOLO).

On “Borrowed Not Stolen”, Hippie Tribe displays their clever songwriting and co-dependent flow over popular beats such as Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia” and Schoolboy Q’s “That Part”. The Tribes twist on these modern favorites got the crowd going. De’Nard and Niko’s stage presence is natural and represents the bond they've cultivated during their tenure(s) on the Fordham football team and time spent creating music.

The Tribe has an edge characteristic of ambitious young artists, but still maintain the slick stage presence of hip-hop powerhouses such as A$AP Mob and Young Rich Nation (YRN). This polished edge is what makes Hippie Tribe unique. These men are artists who explore their genre rather than let it define them. “Borrowed Not Stolen” was a lyrically straightforward project, yes, but it followed “OTOLO” which was an experimental venture that required the Tribe’s maximum creative effort.

The Tribe is tireless. They have a fashion line in the works, recently launched a website, hosted Purgatory’s Playground, and have more music in the works. Purgatory’s Playground accomplished the goal of all art collectives: to bring creatives together to simply create.

The Tribe is tireless. They have a fashion line in the works, recently launched a website, hosted Purgatory’s Playground, and have more music in the works. Purgatory’s Playground accomplished the goal of all art collectives: to bring creatives together to simply create.

Be on the lookout for more content from all the artists featured above. Each one is truly unique and has a lot to offer. As for Hippie Tribe, you can expect something from them in early 2018.