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Thought up last spring and launched over the summer, — a comprehensive hip-hop blog created by Peter Drinan '11 and Steven Aguiar '11 — has already gained a sizable following on campus and beyond.

Inspired in part by the Kanye West song "Breathe In, Breathe Out," the blog looks to find common ground between both commercialized and underground hip-hop artists and groups, Aguiar said.  To do so, each member of the five-part Brown and Rhode Island School of Design writing team brings a "compilation of styles" to the table, Aguiar said.

Essentially, the blog looks to offer a comprehensive, intelligent approach to both the culture and musical style, considering not only the types of music available but the cultural implications of that music as well. "Hip-hop touches on so many facets of our culture, so I look a lot at this," writer Sean McGrath '11 said.

"That's the whole point," said Brian Alexander '11, who works on promotion for the blog. "We look at being all-encompassing and unbiased. At getting people exposed to all aspects of the music and engaged in an intelligent way."

As writer Jonathan Weidman '10 explained, "I think the goal ultimately is to present the culture without any of these labels. We focus on quality, not discrimination."

Though "Benz and a Backpack" is used as a means of bringing hip-hop culture and discussion to College Hill, the bloggers said it is also an important promotional tool for up-and-coming, underground artists. "People want exposure, and it's cool to see what they have to offer and be a part of what they're doing," Alexander said.

Drinan and Aguiar developed the idea for the blog  after working together on the WBRU show "360 Midnight Madness," Aguiar said. They were looking to create more of an analytical and connected approach to the music they presented on that program, he said.

"They would just post track lists," Drinan said. "We thought this was deficient. We write articles, put some thought into what is being said."

The group is looking to develop the blog further and make it more of a presence on campus. They want to "help to transform the scene at Brown a little bit," McGrath said, mainly through on-campus events, parties and music shares — the first of which will be held March 18.

The group's ultimate goal is for the blog to gain more credibility and popularity as a source of music and discussion, not unlike that of an online magazine, Drinan said.


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