Bringing hip hop back to Marquette: Radio X’s student showcase


Harry Stine/NW

LIVE AT THE X – Sophia Gielniak (right) and Lauren Lahtinen (left) excited for the Rap Showcase. The showcase will be on Friday, April 7, at 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre in McClintock.

Harry Stine

The idea for a Rap Showcase at Radio X started months ago when Sophia Gielniak, the current music director for the station, spoke with Alex Watanen, the former music director. Watanen, a local rapper, shared stories about Marquette’s old hip hop scene and it struck a chord with Gielniak, who just released her second rap album.

“I kind of just want people to know there is a rap scene here because it used to be such a prevalent thing,” Gielniak said. “I think it’s important to bring that community back so people can work together and follow their dreams, [and] make something of themselves and have their little community.”

The showcase will take place in McClintock’s Black Box Theatre on Friday, April 7 at 7 p.m., and will feature six different rappers, with each artist performing a different subgenre of hip hop. Each rapper will have 15 minutes for their set, and the event should take about an hour and a half to two hours. There will also be some time set aside for an open mic at the beginning of the show, and Gielniak encouraged anyone who wants to “step up and rap” to do so. 

Despite no longer being a member of Radio X, Watanen still helped a lot with organizing the event. Dubbed “The Radio X Elder” by Radio X Assistant Director Lauren Lahtinen, he contacted local rappers, helped put up posters and gave advice to the student organizers. A veteran rapper, Watanen was set to perform, but unfortunately tested positive with Covid-19 shortly before the event. Still, Lahtinen has high hopes for the turnout. 

“We really hope that it’s going to draw people into having an interest in Radio X, in the events that we put on in the future or just being a part of our student organization,” Lahtinen said. “And we definitely hope that if we have a good turnout this time around that we can look into bringing other showcases into the future whether that be rap or different genres of music.”

Lahtinen said that Covid put a pause on many of the events that Radio X was putting on, including Live at the X, which consists of live radio broadcasts of local artists. She hopes the showcase will renew interest in the station’s events and lead to more showcases of different genres, as well as other live shows. 

Gielniak expressed a lot of excitement about the showcase and encouraged students to message the Radio X page on Instagram with feedback.

“I’m not as familiar with hip hop [as Gielniak], but as an elementary education major, just looking into the literacy and poetry that exists in hip hop, it’s so powerful,” Lahtinen said. “I think it’s something that is definitely worth appreciating and looking into more because so many people write it off as something that’s for the young people or ‘it doesn’t mean anything,’ and it’s totally not.”

You can listen to Radio X by tuning into 91.5 FM or by visiting their website.