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Trivia night builds community for local hip hop scene

Kassmin Willams

Hip hop heads and amateurs, veteran members of the Boston Hip Hop scene and newcomers fill the basement level of Good Life in Boston.

In teams, they deliberate over questions like “How much money did Jay-Z invest to become part owner of the Brooklyn Nets?” and “What was the biggest rap radio hit of the 2000s?”

DJ On and On plays a corresponding song in the background as teams scribble their responses on dry erase boards and wave for the scorekeeper, hoping for the correct answer and a chance at being named the night’s winner.

While participants aim to prove their knowledge of hip hop, organizers of HipHopTriv have another goal in mind.

To educate.

“We’re trying to bring the fun back into hip hop and entertainment. We’re trying to bring diversity and at the same time educate people with fun,” said HipHopTriv organizer Dana “Daneja” Bradley.

The idea for a trivia event based on hip hop came out of friends randomly battling each other on hip hop facts.

Organizers Bradley, David “DJ On and On” Cohen and Hector “Big Hek” Solano decided to take the trivia-type game out of the typical living room setting and into the public.

Originally called Hiphoperdy after the game show “Jeopardy” when it was launched in 2004 by DJ On and On, HipHopTriv changed names last year when Solano and Bradley joined to host the event.

The questions cover a mix of topics on underground and commercial hip hop, and touch upon all elements of the genre, including music, graffiti, dance moves, DJs, the local scene and major label artists.

Even the most ardent hip hop enthusiasts get stumped at some point.

The game also includes a number of physical challenges where teams choose a representative to see who can lace a pair of Adidas with fat laces or do the best rendition of old school dances like the Kid ‘n Play and the Tootsie Roll.

Winners of the physical challenge are chosen by celebrity guest judges that have included Boston rap behemoths Esoteric, Edo G and Akrobatik. The next event on Wednesday, March 6, will feature celeb judges Jeff Two Times and Twice Thou from the Boston group Almighty RSO and rapper/actor Slaine, a solo artist, member of Special Teamz and La Coka Nostra and actor in films including “The Town.”

The event, held every two months, attracts music managers, DJs, rappers, beat boxers, graffiti artists, writers, business owners and music lovers and allows them to collaborate for one night.

“Hip hop trivia contributes in a way that the traditional hip hop showcase doesn’t by creating both a more intellectually and physically stimulating environment,” said DJ Next, CEO of Amalgam Digital. “They ask you questions, it brings a lot of people together and you take part in the event. It’s an interactive experience, which is fascinating for me.”

DJ Next, who attended the contest for the first time in January, called the event the most fun he has had in hip hop in a long time.

Nerissa “Netta Mo’Betta” Williams, CEO and founder of TCGT Entertainment, agrees. Although rap — especially of the commercial variety — is often associated with aggression and negativity, Williams says that HipHopTriv brings some of the lightheartedness and camaraderie back to hip hop.

“It’s like people are laughing and talking, and it’s just a lot of fun,” Williams said.

The next trivia event takes place at Good Life on Wednesday, March 6 at 8:30 p.m. Admission is free, and signup begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit or follow @HipHopTriv on Twitter.