Hip Hop Karaoke Ottawa isn’t your normal karaoke night out on the town. It steps away from the conventional video screen bouncy ball read-a-long karaoke jam and allows you to momentarily become Nas, Jay-Z, or Missy Elliott performing live. Hosted by DJ So Nice and Atherton, the monthly night has gained momentum in the past year and has become a popular Thursday night out in the National Capital City. I had the chance to catch up with DJ So Nice just in time for the April edition of Hip Hop Karaoke Ottawa to ask him some questions about the unique monthly event. Here’s the result of our exchange:
Elly: Hip Hop Karaoke is a recent movement that was launched in NYC back in 2004. Since then, it has gained significant momentum in England, Canada, Iceland and even Australia. When did Hip Hop Karaoke Ottawa come into existence and what prompted you to create a local chapter?
DJ So Nice: I’ve always wanted to do a Hip Hop Karaoke night ever since I saw it being done in other cities on YouTube. However, I knew that if I was to do it I needed a really dope host. I suck on the mic, and can’t really rock a crowd that well. When I met Atherton and got to know him, I realized that he was a people person and was amazingly comfortable on stage. So it was easy: last summer I asked him if he wanted to do Hip Hop Karaoke with me, and we took it from there. It’s been a blast ever since. The dude is funny as hell, and with me on the decks I think we’re the dream team of this karaoke shit.
Elly: For those unfamiliar with the concept, could you explain what Hip Hop Karaoke is?
DJ So Nice: Think of regular karaoke. Okay, now hold that thought. Now remove the teleprompter. Replace the corny music with Hip Hop jams. Replace the crowd of old folks with some hyped up youths. Replace the karaoke machine with an awesome DJ and take it out of a bar and into a club setting. This is Hip Hop Karaoke. A spot where people are not reading lyrics, but rather, they are putting on a awesome showcase and living life as pseudo celebrities for a night.
Elly: That sounds like a whole lot of fun! As the hosts of Hip Hop Karaoke Ottawa, what roles do you respectively play each time the monthly event takes place?
DJ So Nice: I bring the music and Atherton brings the humor. We’re both entertainers, but in our own ways. I have to keep people bopping their heads, he has to keep people engaged. And the crowd loves it!
Elly: How would you describe the crowd that attends Hip Hop Karaoke Ottawa?
DJ So Nice: We love the crowd. I like to think that we do a good job at making the event very inclusive to all walks of life from all scenes. If I had to describe what kind of a crowd we get though, I would saw they’re an awesome crowd. They know the words to every hip hop classic, and get buck wild when people are performing. It brings tears to my eyes sometimes.
Elly: How do you ensure that there’s sufficient variety and that it’s not always the same songs being performed?
DJ So Nice: There’s honestly so many hip hop classics and hits to choose from, we don’t really encounter that problem. Sure we’ve had the same song performed two months in a row before, but that’s okay. We find that there’s an amazing variety in the song selection month after month. Some people are about testing their linguistics and picking a tongue twister of a song like “Look at Me Now”. Others are old school heads who perform a classic LL Cool J joint. And then we have some who have a more eclectic taste and perform South African hip hop! The variety comes naturally, we don’t really need to do much quality control.
Elly: With Hip Hop Karaoke Ottawa heading back outside to Mugshots for the summer season, what do you hope to achieve?
DJ So Nice: We just hope for some amazing performances this year! I’d personally like to see some more group performances, those are always fun. Mugshots is a great bar, and their outdoor courtyard is an amazing spot with so much character. All we really want is for people to have fun and be happy. When the crowd is happy, we’re happy.
I’d like to invite people to check out www.HHKOTT.com for more information and sign ups!
Hip Hop Karaoke Ottawa, hosted by DJ So Nice and Atherton, takes places every third Thursday of the month at Babylon Nightclub at 317 Bank Street. Moving forward as of May however, the monthly event will be relocated to Mugshots’ outdoor courtyard located at 75 Nicholas Street.