The University of Rhode Island is an institution bursting with young, talented individuals, including the members of the Rhode Island-based music group, Black Plague.
Black Plague consists of 11 individuals, eight of whom attend URI. Â These members all hold different talents, but came together under one roof to combine their talents. Â The group has two producers- Toye “Toyeast” Onikoyi and Victor “Victor Levie” Montanez; three rappers- Sam “Verzatyl” Ogundare, Baheem “Option D” Ferrell and Kyle “ADTheThird” Delgato; two videographers- Kassandra “KasshProductions” Brown and James “Project Two Projects” Xiong; two designers- Kirby Nunez and Yeriel Buren; and two singers- Rodderick “Rodda J” Jones and Olivia King.
The group came together last fall when founding members Onikoyi and Montanez thought of the idea to start a music group.
“I was just getting into making beats,” Onikoyi said. Â “In the beginning it was just me and Victor [Montanez] working together. We wanted to have other people with different talents, bring them together, and essentially make an empire with the greatest group of all time. Our goal is to express our art at the highest platform possible.”
According to Onikoyi, credit for the groups name goes to Ferrell.
“He essentially thought to call our group ‘Black Plague’ because in history as many remember, the Black Plague was one of the most dominating pandemics in Europe,” Onikoyi said. Â “It spread so fast, and so quick. Â Stemming off of this, we as a group want our music and art to reflect the spreading of the Black Plague, but in a more positive light. Â We want our art and music to spread and grow rapidly, not only at URI, but in Rhode Island and eventually across the country.”
Brown, one of the groups videographers, became a member of Black Plague in in fall of 2013 on Onikoyi’s urging.
“I had tweeted about me needing a power team in order to get to where I wanted to be,” Brown said. Â “Toye [Onikoyi] had called me that summer asking if I would like to be a part of it, but I was very indecisive. Â He came to me with this big pitch about Black Plague and upcoming projects they would like to accomplish. Â With little persuasion, I went ahead and told Toye [Onikoyi] ‘Yeah lets do it.’”
Black Plague has been spreading rapidly. Â As a group, they have been featured on URI’s “Bennett Knows Radio,” made an appearance in last semesters BOND Hip-Hop Showcase, and are currently appearing on their own network “Black Plague TV” which can be seen on the URI channel.
In addition to their group efforts, the members of Black Plague still make time for their solo projects. Â Ogundare recently filmed a music video on the URI campus for his single “Dead Without Me,” which featured dancing by Onikoyi and Jones. Â Ogundare performed his single at the Spring 2014 UHURU SASA Fashion Show, where Jones also danced to “Loyal” by Chris Brown and Nunez’s clothing line “Dive Bros” was displayed.
King has opened up for the August Alsina Concert at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, and on September 26, she will be opening for Jeremih, also at Lupo’s.
When it comes to music producing, Onikoyi cites several influential rappers as his inspirations.
“My influences would be 9th Wonder, Kanye West, Pharrell and Knowledge,” Onikoyi said. Â “The one thing I admire about these artists is the way they arrange beats and their creativeness in their music,” he said. Â “They do a great job of expressing themselves through music, which is what I aim to do. Â It really catches my attention and inspires me.”
Sticky Pacavilli, one of the rappers that freestyled on an open mic performance, also opened for the 2 Chainz concert at the Ryan Center, September 19.
Black Plague has major plans for this school year. Â Between updating the website, open mic performances starting up again, Â and producing more music, Black Plague intends to spread its epidemic all over Rhode Island. The group is looking for one potential person to help them out with blog postings, website updates, and social media postings.