Hip hop gets grrrly at upcoming film fest

There will be a riot at Oakland University this Saturday, April 5. Participants are encouraged to bring open minds, stomachs, and a healthy dose of street.

Progressive hip hop artist Insite the Riot, alongside her fellow members of The Foundation, a Detroit-based group that encourages women in hip hop, will be performing at Grrrls at the Mic, OU’s 30th annual Women and Gender Studies film festival, taking place this Saturday from 12-5 pm in the Oakland Center’s Gold Rooms.

“In the past, we’ve done both serious topics and fun topics,” said Erin Meyers, event committee member and Assistant Professor in Communication and Journalism. “This year we wanted to do something a little different.”

Borrowing its name from the Riot grrl movement that took place in Olympia, Washington in the 1990s, Grrrls at the Mic will focus on gender inequality in the punk and hip hop spheres, showing the female-empowering films Grrrl Love and Revolution and Say My Name, and ending with performances from women of The Foundation.

“There will be breaks between each of the performances as well as food, and people are welcome to come and go as they please,” said Meyers.

OU alum and Detroit Revitalization Fellow Allandra Bulger, or “Insite the Riot,” as she is known in the music industry, said that the event will be “a great experience for anyone who attends.”

“It’s stuff you haven’t heard, yet,” she said.

Growing up with both parents as writers and a DJ for an uncle, Bulger said that rap and hip hop came naturally to her and has been a craft that she has seriously pursued for eight years now. Originally rapping under her nickname, Lannie, the OU public administration grad said she changed her moniker to “Insite the Riot” to better encourage her message of “spreading positivity through common song.”

“My name is actually an acronym,” she said. “It means ‘Insite the Revolution in Our Thinking.’”

Bulger’s main targets in revolutionizing thinking include the promotion of female voices in hip hop. “Women have a voice that needs to be heard. We’re connected to many social issues and if you don’t have that voice, you lose a piece of the puzzle,” she said.

Consisting of Bulger and her fellow independent artists in the group, The Foundation “is a place for women to get on the stage and be central,” said event co-organizer and OU Associate Professor Kellie Hay.

Hay and fellow OU Associate Professor and research colleague Rebekah Farrugia have been ethnographically studying the culture of The Foundation for two years, attending the organization’s weekly open mic sessions each Tuesday.

“The [open mic] performances can go from visual artists to rappers to beat makers to dancers,” said Hay. “There’s a camaraderie, despite skill level, where everyone comes together, and [The Foundation] is very involved in community building, socially conscious issues and what’s going on in Detroit.”

“They help provide an alternative to mainstream hip hop and rap music that doesn’t involve misogyny,” added Farrugia.

Besides encouraging women in hip hop, Farrugia also hopes that the performance will help OU students to feel a connection with the city of Detroit. “A lot of our students have never been to or explored the city and there’s this divide between the suburbs and the city,” she said. “I hope people can come out to this event to learn more about Detroit as a whole.”

“There’s a women in hip hop movement that’s happening around the country,” said Hay. “[Grrls at the Mic] is really relevant and will be a fun time for all.”

For more information on the Grrrls at the Mic event, visit the OU Women and Gender Studies Facebook page. For more on Allandra Bulger, visit www.insitetheriot.bandcamp.com.