Listen to this article here
A.V. “$upreme” Perkins a DIY blogger and Marian “Skinni Bee” Andoh-Clarke a Small Business Director, started University of Dope after a tipsy challenge between the two during a night out in Brooklyn.
After a few drinks at dinner, A.V. was curious if Marian could name all Wu Tang Clan members and the rest has been hip hop history.
The Black Wall Street Times spoke with A.V. to catch up on the game that is far more than merely trivia.
As a Black-women founded and operating business, A.V. recalls the night that sparked it all. “At dinner, I remember we googled ‘Wu Tang drinking game’ because it would’ve been a great game to play and we wanted to buy it but it didn’t exist. So we made it up.”
“Our game is about strategy more than trivia,” explains A.V. “Since this is majority rules it’s kind of like collecting data in a way that’s not necessarily trivial because what you know is what you know. It reveals more about the people you’re playing it with than anything.”
After stops at both the Roots Picnic and Essence Festival over the summer, A.V. says University of Dope is purposeful about existing where the culture thrives.
“We are the vibe and we want to be where the vibes are,” affirms A.V. Perkins.
With a top five list reflective of her born-and-bred Bronx borough, the proud New Yorker says her playlist is never too far away from the home of hip hop. “I can listen to New York hip hop all day. My east coast Spotify playlist will run for days if I let it.”
A.V. Perkins Hip Hop Top 5: Notorious B.I.G., DMX, Jadakiss, Lil’ Kim, Wu Tang Clan
Asked why Jay-Z didn’t make her admittedly biased NYC list of favorites, Perkins explained her list is just like University of Dope: it’s all subjective. “I value Jay-Z as an artist but for me, I don’t feel he’s as vulnerable as DMX because he was extremely vulnerable but he was still hardcore,” she said.
A.V. explains her nuance, “My favorite Jay-Z song is Song Cry but it still has the bravado. But you can’t knock it because there is a valuable lesson in rarely painting yourself as the bad guy. And we see that the strategy has always worked for Hov.”
Asked her favorite 90s hip hop storytelling tracks, Perkins remembered, “You Got Me” by the Roots, “Love is Blind” by Eve, and “How’s it Goin’ Down” by DMX.
Though the sound has changed vastly from the days of the Boogie Down Productions, Perkins says the evolution of hip hop is reflective of our society at large.
“You can’t expect the sound to be the same forever because then there’s no growth. Hip hop is only 50 years old,” said A.V. “If you think of rock, even though we started it, you’ve seen it grow over time and the same people who liked Metallica probably don’t like Blink 182 the same way someone who loves KRS One might not listen to Lil Uzi Vert.”
Though a LOX fan who has seen Jadakiss perform more times than she can count, A.V. says today’s women of hip hop have been a long time coming.
“I like that the City Girls are unapologetic. I love that there are so many women doing the damn thing because we came up only-female-in-the-crew era of 90s hip-hop.” She continued, “They sang or rapped once in a while but it was never consistent in that model. I think it’s beautiful now because they don’t have to be limited anymore.”
A creative with a conscience, Perkins says the violence that has permeated our culture’s most beloved art form has to be addressed.
“Low key we are keeping the young folks, particularly young man in a box because they feel like they have to live up to the lifestyle of the crack era to be accepted,” explains A.V.
While an advocate for Black male mentors for young Black boys, A.V. says there is also a special love in hip hop that can motivate and inspire those same kids.
She furthered, “We have to make sure we’re not chastising young boys for not being ‘hard enough’ or compare them to another generation. When they do inevitably get hard and then we turn around and say, ‘Oh, these kids are crazy.’ Yeah, because we made them that way.”
“Keep a lookout for us on Instagram. University of Dope will be going on tour again so catch us at a festival, block Party, or HBCU Homecoming near you,” said A.V. “Our 50th anniversary special edition deck. It’s all gold everything.”