By Katie Webb & Ohad Amram, Assistant Entertainment Editor & Staff Writer
Pre la Fete:
Winter Blast kicked off with the Pre La Fete festivities last weekend. The event boasted indoor attractions, a karaoke contest and carnival food. Students gathered in the David S. Mack Physical Education Center to rally before the Mardival concert.
The room featured a large stage in the middle where the DJ enticed students up onto the stage to sing karaoke.
Amy Schildwaster, who was the first to go up on stage and sing with Catie Moulton, said "It was nerve-racking going up there, but I got a free t-shirt so why not?"
All around the room carnival-like obstacles and games were set up. There was a bounce castle, laser tag, a boxing ring, a hockey slap shot contest, a wrecking ball game, and a bungee run. In the back a mechanical bull was set up to challenge students' courage as well as balance.
"I lasted on the bull for about ten to fifteen seconds,: Charlie Krantz said. "it was more difficult then it looked."
A few students tried the bungee run, a race where the runners are connected to a wall by rope and have to fight to the end.
"It was exhausting. I would have won, but Nick's arms were longer," Alaysia Ray defended her lose in jest.
"I'm not gonna lie: my legs burned like crazy when I did it," Nick Fils Aime said of his victory run.
Though the games were entertaining, if not challenging, it seemed few people actually showed up to try them out. Most of the students there were working at club booths to promote themselves and recruit new members. They were the ones playing the games on breaks.
Hofstra American Marketing Association (HAMA), Red Cross Club, Phi Delta Epsilon, Women of Action, NAACP and more clubs all came out to the event. They were all promoting charitable goals or looking for more members, yet there were only a select few students in attendance for them to reach out to.
Few students were willing to be quoted, but over a dozen voiced concern about the event being poorly advertised and executed. The attendants who were enjoying themselves the most were small children brought my alumni.
"Honestly, they needed more advertisement to get people out here," Katie Ardrey from the club soccer team said. "Then we could talk to more students about joining our club."
Zoe Mendal of the Women's Frisbee team remarked of the meager group. "We came to work a table to promote our club, but had little idea what this event would actually be. So much is happening this weekend at different times and places it's confusing the students, and I think maybe that's why the turnout is so poor."
So the questions on everyone's minds are these – Was the event worth the money exhausted on it? And how can the school prevent this type of pride fallout at future affairs?
It would appear that if you're an overweight rapper looking for a quick and easy gig, Hofstra University is your go-to. At least that was the case for Outkast's Big Boi last Spring Festival, Rick Ross last Fall Fest, and more recently, this past Saturday's Mardival, of which Fat Joe was the main attraction. With initial buzz that the Reggae ton artist Elephant Man was to perform, but dropped out last-minute, the show's theme seemed confusing. Hofstra's IMANI dance ensemble had already choreographed dance routines to Elephant Man songs so that the show combined themes of both Reggae and Islander music, with Mardi Gras attire... and Fat Joe? The theme was hard to follow, and the entire night reaped these consequences as a result.
The best part of the evening was the pre-show in which DJ Norie mixed classic hip-hop dance tracks with current hot singles that got the crowd excited. Contortionists on either side of the stage managed to entertain the audience for the better half of the show. With that said, the audience was still nowhere near as large as the crowds have been during previous Hofstra events.
Despite the high-energy generated during the pre-show, the Fat Joe performance simply fell short.
Some may remember the now-41-year-old Bronx-based rapper from their junior high school days when his billboard chart-topping single "Lean Back" was arguably the greatest dance track of 2004. Over the course of the past decade since his prime, Joe has continued to make music; however, not at the same pace, and listeners have not been as responsive as they had been in previous years.
On stage Saturday, he appeared alongside his DJ. The crowd was shocked by Joe's apperance. He had dramatically lost nearly 60 pounds. Joe greeted the audience with shout-outs and senseless stammering. "Yeah, what's up, Hofstra?" Joe repeated, with no intention of a follow-up question. What was most disappointing was the obvious change from the reckless gangster rapping, Big Pun-collaborating, hardcore nineties rapper that the crowd had anticipated. No longer sporting his infamous "TS" (Terror Squad) necklace, Joe gave any potential true fans the feeling that he is much like many of these artists who come and go.
The rapper worked with some of the most prominent producers in the hip hop game to date, including Swizz Beats, Timbaland, DJ Khaled and Scott Storch. Since Joe's lead in the rap game in the late nineties and early new millennium things have changed drastically.
"Maybe if I were in the seventh grade again, hearing those 30 seconds of ‘Lean Back' would have been amazing," Junior Ana Davis reminisced. Joe's weight loss wasn't his only lack in stage presence; he lost the spunk that motivated him during his ‘Terror Squad' ways.
Nearly all of the songs that were played Saturday evening were features. They were almost entirely not exclusive Joe songs, but rather ones that he had a single verse on. These include "We Takin' Over" and "New York," which were quite possibly the most intimate parts of the evening, where the crowd joined in and attempted to sing along to the chorus, which grew to a more and more incoherent chant every time it was repeated.
At one point in the show, as Joe struggled to transition from song to song, it became evident that he couldn't help but continue making irrelevant commentary. "Yo, Hofstra, I've been to Africa," he paused as his breath got deeper and then began again. "I've been to Italy and France and We Takin' Over!"
All in all, the entire crowd was left baffled by the performance and felt as though they had been sold short of a memorable performance, but then again, the University hadn't had high expectations. Sophomore Brandon Davis summed the night up by saying, "The Fat Joe performance wasn't that good because he didn't even play his own stuff. Aside from ‘Lean Back,' everything was just his guest tracks on other songs. The pre-show was better, in my opinion."