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Improvisation is Something We Live

Friday, March 30, 2012 1 pm - 9 pm

10 Carden, Guelph, Ontario

Blending performance and discussion, this symposium will investigate the ways in which improvisation, in its many incarnations as part of hip hop culture, can be a survival strategy for members of marginalized populations, a way to work beyond conventional limits of cultural, social, and political life. We seek to examine hip hop art forms as modes of theoretical intervention in current modes of thought and practice; simultaneously we seek to bring together members of conventionally divided communities in a rich and productive conversation.

Schedule of Events

1:00 pm - 1:30 pm Opening remarks and Welcome by Mark V. Campbell
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm Keynote Lecture - Rinaldo Walcott
"We're New Here": Hip Hop's Improvisational Diss'
2:30 pm - 2:45 pm Q & A
2:45 pm - 3:00 pm Break
3:00 pm - 3:30 pm Panel Performance: Beatmaker Fresh Kils and My Neural Thumb
Videos of Bgirl JuLo and Emcee D.O.
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Panel Discussion on Hip Hop And Improvisation moderated by Mark V. Campbell
Fresh Kils, Bgirl Lopez and D.O.
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Q & A
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Keynote Address/Performance - Charity Marsh
"Hip Hop as Methodology: The IMP Labs and Community Research"
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Break
7:30 pm Improv. Performance with SlowPitch

Thanks to Our Sponsors

School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph College of Arts
TransCanada Institute, University of Guelph TransCanada Institute

Symposium Bios

Rinaldo Walcott

Rinaldo Walcott is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education. His research and teaching is in the area of Black Diaspora Cultural Studies with an emphasis on queer sexualities, masculinity and cultural politics. A secondary research area is multicultural and transnational debates with an emphasis on nation, citizenship and coloniality. As an interdisciplinary scholar Rinaldo has published on music, literature, film and theater among other topics. All of Rinaldo’s research is founded in a philosophical orientation that is concerned with the ways in which coloniality shapes human relations across social and cultural time. Rinaldo is the author of Black Like Who: Writing Black Canada (Insonmiac Press, 1997 with a second revised edition in 2003); he is also the editor of Rude: Contemporary Black Canadian Cultural Criticism (Insomniac, 2000); and the Co-editor with Roy Moodley of Counselling Across and Beyond Cultures: Exploring the Work of Clemment Vontress in Clinical Practice (University of Toronto Press, 2010).

Fresh Kils

From behind the boards to the stage, there's not a spot of ground Fresh Kils' prolific career hasn't touched. And not just hip hop. It's true, you'll see Saigon, Fabolous, and Ali Shaheed (ATCQ) grace his resume, but you'll also find the likes of Ron Sexsmith & The Buena Vista Social Club. His prowess on the MPC has seen him share the stage with many of hip hop's legends (Nas, De La Soul) as well as the best of the underground, winning over fans with his signature showmanship. With momentum & accolades growing each year, Fresh Kils' is poised for a sound system takeover unlike any we've seen in a long time.

You've been warned...

My Neural Thumb

My Neural Thumb (Mark Onderwater) is a Bachelor of Arts and Science Music and Physics student at the University of Guelph. He is a multi-instrumentalist, who more recently has taken up turntablism. His academic interests primarily lie in music technology where he experiments with human-computer interfacing. Turntablism however, has not only caught Mark’s attention technically, but also from cultural directions; this has lead to his dedication to playing the turntables as his primary instrument. Performing under the alias My Neural Thumb, Mark’s primary focus is battle DJing and turntablism in its various flavours. These genres provide the setting, or battlegrounds, to challenge the limits of the turntable as an instrument. My Neural Thumb has also DJ’ed several events with his trusted wheels of steel in the DJ booth, keeping the scratch DJ tradition alive.

Judi “JuLo” Lopez

Judi “JuLo” Lopez, Jamaican born, Pickering raised, is currently living and dancing in London, England. Judi has always had a natural rhythm for hip-hop music and from her adolescent days she decisively put her skills through trail and error. Since then, she has participated in various dance shows with dance groups such as Just Jam, School of Mayham to Blaze Entertainment. Her love and talent for the dance has given her opportunities to work along side top choreographers, Jae Blaze and HiHat. She has also performed with Internationally well-known artists such as Rihanna and Azari & III to doing concerts, music videos for local National celebrities like Carl Henry. She’s been featured in Bollywood movies to dancing/7th inning stretching for the Toronto Blue Jay’s Jforce squad. Her journey has led her to a new passion and challenge of Bboying/Bgirling commercially known as Breakdancing. Starting off in South Korea to improving her skills in London, England, Judi continues to represent the dance element of Hip Hop in battles, cyphers and competitions around Europe. Although still a student to the craft, Judi is grateful for all the lessons learned and thankful for all the opportunities given, and blessed to have the opportunity to teach others not only the art but also the knowledge.


Duane Gibson aka D.O. is a Guinness World Record setting rapper and University graduate that has been inspiringhundreds of thousands of youth since 2001. In 2003, he set the Guinness World Record for freestyling clocking in at 8 hours and 45 minutes. D.O. has released several chart topping songs on radio and had over ten videos play in rotation on MuchMusic. In the last two years he has toured Canada twice,Europe (France, UK, Netherlands), Asia (Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong) and the US (Miami, NYC, Vegas). Through his Stay Driven program, D.O. has spoken at hundreds of schools in Canada and also performed to at world-renowned Harvard University. He has madeappearances on MTV, YTV, and CP24 and has been profiled in publications such as XXL Magazine, Globe And Mail and Newsweek.

Charity Marsh

Dr Charity Marsh is Canada Research Chair in Interactive Media and Performance and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Regina (Saskatchewan, Canada). She is the founder and Director of the IMP Labs, which house a beat-making electronic music studio, an interactive DJ studio, and an ethnomusicology research lab. Charity is creator and facilitator of the Scott Collegiate/ IMP Labs Hip Hop Projects, the 55 Northern Parallel Hip Hop Workshop Tour, the IMP Labs' Community Hours Program, and The Flatland Scratch Seminar and Workshop Series. She has published scholarly work on Indigenous Hip Hop in western and northern Canada, electronic music and the dance floor, feminist interpretations of how genres, musicians, and places are represented in various media, community arts-based programming for marginalized youth, popular music in Canada, and creative technologies.


SlowPitch is an experimental turntable musician who has been producing and performing for the last 10 years. He has received grants from the Ontario, Toronto and Canada arts councils and was nominated for the K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Music, from the K.M. Hunter Foundation and the Ontario Arts Council. His music has been presented in venues such as the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Rose Theatre, the Music Gallery, The Royal Ontario Museum, The Gardiner Museum and the Harbour Front Centre to name a few. SlowPitch has also had the pleasure of working with many talented artists including John Kameel Farah, Araz Salek, Colin Fisher, Darren Copeland, Gregory Oh, Evergreen Contemporary Gamelan and Richard Marsella, to name a few.

If people talked the way they drummed in improvisation, then I think the world would be a lot nicer…

– Youth participant, ICASP improvisation workshop