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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Hip hop goes back to school

In the world of hip hop, street and college credibility have never gone hand in hand. Only recently has the genre seen any sort of college influence with Kanye West labeling himself a drop-out, Asher Roth devoting a song to loving it and Lil’ Wayne attempting to finish a degree plan at the University of Houston.
For brothers Tony and Charles Iyoho, members of the hip hop group Rhyme University, obtaining a college education was not an option, it was mandatory.
“Education is huge in my family,” Charles Iyoho said. “My dad has a Ph.D., my mom has her masters, my little sister is about to get a law degree, my brother has Ph.D. and my other sister has her masters in business.”
Not to be left out, Charles Iyoho received his masters in mass communication from the University of Houston in 2007.
Fittingly, Rhyme University started while Iyoho was an undergraduate at the University of Missouri where his brother was working on his masters in mechanical engineering. There they entered into freestyle competitions held by a student-run radio station.
“I don’t want to say we were better than everybody, but my brother and I used to just kill it,” Iyoho said. “People were telling us we need to do something with it.”
Rhyme U began performing around the Columbia area, and eventually signed with an independent hip hop label based out of Missouri called Indyground Entertainment.
Though the duo gained local success as a hip hop group, Rhyme U quickly set out to change the stigma of artists within the genre.
“A lot of times, I think hip hop gets a bad rap and there are stereotypical images that come along with it,” Iyoho said. “One of my aims is to destroy those images. We are trying to bring a different perspective to the game.”
The different perspective Iyoho speaks of is as a son of two Nigerian immigrants. His parents are native to Uyo, Nigeria and lived there for about 30 years before his father received a full scholarship from a university in Wales. The Iyoho family eventually moved to the United States in 1975.
As a kid, Iyoho moved around, going to schools all over the U.S. and attending high school off the coast of Africa at the American British Academy in Oman. There he made friends and connections that would help him in spreading Rhyme University’s music around the eastern hemisphere.
“A friend that I went to high school overseas with is trying to get us to go over there because our music is being embraced,” Iyoho said. “I’ve been sending sampler CDs all over the world, they have given it to their friends, and so on. I’m actually trying to plan a tour throughout Europe.”
With a strong African background, Rhyme U hopes to use the message to aid family members still in Nigeria.
“It’s a pretty sad state over there, and a lot of them are in poverty. One goal I have is to alleviate their situation. Maybe I can get some of my cousins stateside.”
The brothers Iyoho are aware they have a different outlook than most hip hop artists. The music is something they want to embrace, but the image is an area they want to tear down.
“It’s funny because I feel like I have a certain situation a lot of rappers don’t have,” Iyoho said. “That type of image I like to get out there. There’s more to the genre of hip hop than being gangster and rapping misogynistic lyrics.”
Music is not a full-time job for the brothers. Charles works for a newspaper in Marshall, Texas, where he is an education reporter. His brother Tony is a mechanical engineer in Missouri.
“My brother is a braniac,” Charles said. “It’s good to have smart people around you, especially in the music business.”
Though separated at the moment, they perform solo in their respective areas. Charles is working on another musical project called In Stereo Uprising, while also finishing up Rhyme University’s fourth studio album with his brother.
The negative depiction of the hip hop genre may not change due to Rhyme University’s music, but the Iyoho brothers hope to make some positive waves as a socially conscious rap group.
“We don’t want to preach too much, but at the same time we want to say something significant,” Iyoho said. “I think for the most part, it has been effective. We are just going to keep trying to carry on with the momentum.”

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