#Exit13Challenge Shows Hip Hop’s Power To Unite A Neighborhood
By Karl Valere
Nearly one month ago, before the rise of the now popular, #MannequinChallenge and the #UNameItChallenge, Elmont natives circulated a buzz of their own by taking part in the #Exit13Challenge.
The viral video challenge featured a bevy of Elmont lyricists hungry to showcase their musical talent and hometown pride by delivering their best rhymes over classic Hip Hop instrumentals.
Fun fact: For those who may not know, students who attended Elmont Memorial High School typically between 2005 and 2014 informally refer to the Elmont community as “Exit 13”. The nickname stems from the fact that Exit 13 is the last westbound exit along the Southern State Parkway, before leading into Elmont and Valley Stream.
We spoke to three former Elmont Memorial High School students who participated in the healthy Hip Hop competition and talent showcase known as the #Exit13Challenge:
How did the #ExitChallenge begin?
STRIKEZ, Creator & former EMHS student
Well, it started with me dropping a freestyle video to let my town know that I’m pursuing music 100 percent. A good friend of mine, David Usher, was inspired by the video’s energy and decided to make a video of his own challenging my freestyle video. From there, the #Exit13Challenge arose and started spreading.
Where did you hear about it first?
Krystal Michel, Class of 2012
Well, I first learned about the challenge because I was on Facebook and I’d seen a video from one of my Facebook friends rapping and the hash tag was #Exit13Challenge. I listened to it, and instantly it got me excited and eager to also showcase my talent and represent our town in a great way.
Your challenge video was particularly well-received and shared by a lot of people. Did you expect that type of response? And how long have you been writing or rapping?
To be completely honest I did not think I’d have that type of reaction, it was very humbling actually. I mean I knew people would be listening but definitely took me by surprise. I appreciate all the love and support from my friends and community.
I’ve been writing/rapping since I was like 15, but it hasn’t been like something I’ve been pursuing as much as I’d like to because of the responsibilities I have on a day to day.
How did you feel making your challenge video?
Jordany Michel, Class of 2009
I had fun making mine.
What would you say was the purpose of this challenge?
Just so #Exit13 gets the recognition it deserves as far as talent. We got some dope artists, people in general but definitely on the music note and time to just flood the streets with great music and rep the town at the same time.
My goal is to show the world that this small town called Elmont is filled with hidden talent ranging from singers, rappers, artists, dancers, actors…Whatever you have a true passion for, it can be recognized by [the] determination behind your talent.
What inspired you to take up this project?
I took up the project ’cause it makes sense. Everyone’s coming out with their ex13 video showing off their lyrics and the goal is to shine a light on Elmont anyways — so put the two together and you’ve got a rap cypher.
So what happens next?
Well, I definitely hope that it’ll continue to bring out the hidden talents in the Elmont community/family. Hopefully, this goes buzzing around more and we will have people from other towns listening and inspired to do the same.
All of these artists definitely exude talent so it would be an honor and a great time I’m sure collaborating with everyone. It’s all about coming together in the music, with all this talent we could start up something big.
This challenge is just the start.
As of right now I’m putting together a X13 Cypher scheduled for Nov.25th an event to broadcast all rappers throughout Elmont.
Many thanks to Strikez, Krystal and Jordany for taking time out to interview. Stay tuned to find out what happens next!
#WeAreElmont #Exit13 #X13 #Elmont #HigherHeights