By Stephen Cooney
Four rappers find brotherhood through hip-hop
When Giovanni Greene, Corey Abisdid and Darryl Semple met at their freshman orientation at Hofstra in 2005, they never expected they were building the foundation of a new hip-hop group.
“We were playing one of those stupid games that they make you play at orientation,” Greene recalls. “I went up and said I rapped. Then Abisdid said he rapped, too, and then Darryl came up and said he also rapped.”
After the meeting broke, Greene and Abisdid began to talk, and then the next thing they knew they were free-styling with each other, and Semple quickly joined the group.
“Everyone broke off from the meeting and we had a cipher,” Abisdid says. “We kept throwing verses back and fourth and then finally we were like ‘Okay, we can spit.’”
As orientation closed, the three new friends returned to their homes in New Jersey, Westchester and Brooklyn to finish their summers and prepare to start their college careers. Back at Hofstra, they passed the time with hip-hop and impromptu rap sessions.
Several weeks into the semester, the friends were introduced to Adrian Pearce who they heard could rap. At first glance they were unsure if he was going to fit into their newly found group.
“This crazy lookin’ white dude with no shoes on came over with my boy and I was like ‘I dunno about this guy,’” Semple says. “Then he started spitting and I was like ‘He is nasty. We gotta start making music.’”
Coincidently, Giovanni had recording equipment in his room. The four decided that they should start to record music. They set up an operation in 1116 Estabrook Hall. “We called it HQ freshman year,” said Greene. “It was like being locked in a box and we wouldn’t come out until a song was finished.”
As the four finished their first mix tape, they grew even closer, morphing into a group called C-4. They now live together in an off-campus house. Their music is just the baseline of their coexistence, but their friendship is the bond that makes the band different from most industry-created groups.
“We are friends first more than anything,” says Abisdid. “We bond on a level because we all have a respect for the craft and anything that anyone does but outside of that we boys.” Abisdid said. “We are brothers to the end. College ain’t nothing easy and we are each others’ life lines.”
“It isn’t a fake friendship,” Semple adds. “Us together is all day; all day since we met. That was a team right there.”
The team slowly began to make some noise across campus, handing out free copies of their first mixed tape and getting their first taste of a stage at a University-sponsored open mike. After a few campus shows, they produced a second mixed tape and handed the new music out across campus.
Eventually, they began to perform more constantly at University concerts including opening for major hip-hop recording artists Lupe Fiasco and Estelle. With the stage experience, the band has taken on the underground hip-hop circuit in New York City.
On stage they carry on more like four friends having a good time than a group assembled to make money or sell tickets. They act as each others’ hype men, reading when one of the members is struggling and seamlessly filling in the gaps.
“There hasn’t been a group in a while that has been successful,” Pearce says. “It has been all industry-put-together shit that seems to crumble because they aren’t a cohesive unit.”
Although as friends they have been there for each other, as a band they push each other to excel and learn from each other.
“We are four completely different people. Four different styles, four different people from four different places,” Greene says. “We all listened to the same music and were all into the same things but we are all individuals.”
The four individual styles merge in the music to form a different type of hip-hop that seems to appeal to mass audiences, not just hip-hop fans.
Even as their college careers come to a close – Pearce will graduate in May and the remaining members will graduate in December – the band is confident that they will continue to work together.
“We love it too much not to,” Pearce says. Of his fellow band members, he adds, “I am blessed to have met them. They were the brothers I never had.”