The old-school hip-hop event returns for one night … or more
On his 23rd birthday, Kareem Jackson was partying at The Clampdown, a monthly rock dance party that went on to run for more than 12 years in Columbus. The party's founder, Charles Erickson, noticed that Jackson had brought a ton of people to the event.
“He stopped me and said, ‘Do you ever think about throwing a party?'” Jackson recalled. “And I was like, ‘No, but I will.'”
The rest is history. Jackson went on to organize two long-running events of his own. Get Right, the 12-year-old commercial rap dance party, takes place monthly at Skully's. And O-Gee, the old-school hip-hop dance party, will celebrate its 10th anniversary Saturday, June 22 at Brothers Drake.
The latter was born out of frustration with the former.
“I was just like, ‘I cannot take this music anymore,'” Jackson said. “It's fun and energetic. But I was like, ‘I need [old-school] hip-hop.'”
Along with DJ Patrick Hicks, Jackson put on O-Gee at the Due Amici restaurant Downtown, and quickly saw a surge in attendance.
“It grew really fast from the side room to taking up the whole restaurant,” Jackson said.
At one point, there was so much interest a fire marshal had to be called to enforce capacity restrictions. Soon the restaurant decided it was time for a change.
“I think they said the staff was having too much fun and they were showing up late,” Jackson said, laughing. “So they were like, ‘We can't have a party that's just not conducive to our business.'”
O-Gee moved to Barrio Tapas Lounge until the restaurant closed, then landed at Strongwater Food & Spirits until the establishment decided to change its focus to weddings.
“Columbus is great for live music, but if you just want to throw a party, it can be a little difficult finding a venue,” Hicks said. “If we had our ideal situation, we would have been at a warehouse.”
The event eventually found another home, and even greater success, at Copious & Notes.
“[It was] a gigantic, sweaty dance party,” Jackson said. “It was everybody from every race, every background. It's just that era of hip-hop that brings people that just love that sound.”
The set list featured everything from Eric B. & Rakim and MC Lyte to A Tribe Called Quest and Bobby Brown.
“The O-Gee theme song is ‘Luchini AKA This Is It' by Camp Lo, so we always play that no matter what,” Jackson said.
Over the years, crowds have included regulars who have grown with Jackson and Hicks, along with younger attendees who want to experience the music and energy. There have also been some minor adjustments to the music as crowds contend with changing definitions of “nostalgia.” And sometimes Hicks will throw in a newer hit — with a twist.
“Someone asked me to play ‘Hotline Bling' by Drake,” Hicks recalled. “I mixed that with Ginuwine's ‘Pony' and people lost their shit.”
After a stint in Brooklyn in 2017, Jackson and Hicks took a break, hosting O-Gee only a handful of times in 2018. Saturday will be the first 2019 installment.
“It's kind of hard when you're older to be throwing events when you have jobs that take up all your time,” Jackson said.
“I think we both have other interests and are building other parts of our lives and careers,” Hicks added.
Plus, there are more dance parties in the city for attendees to choose from, and that has contributed to some of the decline.
“[And] that's fine,” Jackson said. “We've been doing it for long enough. Let somebody else take the reins.”
“A lot of people will try to imitate, but O-Gee will never be duplicated,” Hicks said. “We hit it at the right time and had our trials and tribulations, but also some really huge wins.”
But Jackson kept getting requests to bring O-Gee back.
“I was surprised there were so many people that were so upset we weren't doing it anymore,” he said.
Inspired by the fans and the 10-year anniversary, Jackson and Hicks decided to host a celebratory return at Brothers Drake.
“I was just like, ‘Let's just do it someplace small and more intimate like how it started,'” Jackson said. “And if it gets busy, it gets busy.”
Both Jackson and Hicks agree the future of O-Gee is unknown.
“Let's see what the 10-year [event] does,” Jackson said.