When asked to describe the scene at Fortune Night Club’s Hip Hop Karaoke, event organizer and co-founder Chad Iverson doesn’t hesitate to think of an answer.
“The demographic is Vancouver,” he says. “Everyone loves hip hop. Everyone has a hip hop track they love.”
The night gives anyone who’s willing, the chance to take a shot at owning the stage to recite their favorite hip hop track.
The concept of hip-hop karaoke originated in New York, and soon spread to other cities. It came to Vancouver in 2009 and has proven to be a popular night.
Unlike other city’s HHK nights, organizers don’t have a list of songs to choose from. Instead, those wishing to participate email the organizers the songs they want to perform prior to the event. Iverson and his partner then look for the track’s instrumental version online. The person requesting it then takes the stage, backed by a DJ, and raps the version live. Some people come dressed up, while others have dance moves rehearsed. In short, the stage is yours and it’s your time to shine.
“You’re on the stage in front of 300 people,” says Iverson. “You’re not in the corner of some bar. You’re on the stage, just like any other rapper would be.”
One key thing about the night is that unlike regular karaoke, there’s no teleprompter, so it’s best to have memorized the track before your performance, or have your Smartphone close by.
If you request, the organizers will print out the lyrics for you beforehand.
“Hip hop’s always had the ‘show and prove’ sort of attitude,” says Iverson. “When you’re reading the lyrics you have much more opportunity to perform.” Several big names in Vancouver’s hip-hop community have graced the stage, including members of Sweatshop Union and K-os.
Regardless of how pro you are on stage, the atmosphere at HHK is overwhelming positive and supportive, so there’s nothing to fear.
“Some people kill it and some people blow it,” Iverson says. “But you don’t get booed. Everyone’s on board.”
This month’s HHK, which takes place at Fortune Sound Club, 147 E. Pender St on Monday March 18, will only be taking requests from tracks that were made in 1993 and 1994. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Doors at 9 p.m.
Starts at 10:30 p.m.
Cover is $3 before 10:30 p.m. and $7 after