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Blog Home / Cherry Pop Records Brings Hip Hop Sounds to Westwood at Hip Hop Haven Show
Hour Haven headlines Hip Hop Haven on March 9, 2024 | Photo by Ashlyn Ablao
Ryan KJ opens Hip Hop Haven on March 9, 2024 | Photo by Tara Radmard
Ti Steele takes the stage at Hip Hop Haven on March 9, 2024 | Photo by Ashlyn Ablao
MaZhe performs at Hip Hop Haven on March 9, 2024 | Photo by Ashlyn Ablao

Cherry Pop Records Brings Hip Hop Sounds to Westwood at Hip Hop Haven Show

March 17, 2024 | Reid Sperisen
Cherry Pop Records’ first-ever hip hop show was a smashing success.  More than 200 Bruins attended the Hip Hop Haven show on Saturday, March 9.  Westwood artists MaZhe, Ryan KJ, and Ti Steele performed at the event, which was headlined by Cherry Pop Records’ very own Hour Haven.

“This is a super important step for us and something that we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time,” said Elena Flauto, the president of Cherry Pop Records.  “It’s very important to us to represent all genres present in the Westwood scene, and make sure that all talent gets the resources and support that they need.”

Flauto said she is excited to incorporate the hip hop genre into Cherry Pop Records’ roster of artists and live performances moving forward, especially since UCLA’s student-run record label hopes to soon operate both Pop/Rock and Hip Hop divisions.  Saturday night’s show was a personal triumph for Flauto because it was headlined by Hour Haven, the first artist she signed since becoming president of Cherry Pop Records last year, she added.

“Hour Haven has wanted to sign with Cherry Pop since we were founded,” Flauto said.  “It’s been very rewarding to see his excitement to be performing at a Cherry Pop Records event.”

Flauto said Saturday’s show would not have been possible without the leadership and direction of Abby Arne, an events co-manager for Cherry Pop Records and the executive producer for the Hip Hop Haven show.  Arne hand-picked all of the performing artists by spending hours researching social media and listening to their work on Spotify, all with the specific intention of representing multiple subgenres of hip hop.  With help from fellow Cherry Pop Records members Maya Iribarren and Raeva Vasisht, Arne said she meticulously curated a lineup that emphasized a passion for music and highlighted several different sounds.

“The one thing that they all have in common is that they do it for the music,” Arne said.  “They do it to perform, and they do it just to be around other performers.”

Events team member Julianna Wolf said that at least a month of planning and preparation goes into each show, which requires securing a venue, determining the artists who will be performing, and curating brand sponsorships – like Liquid Death and Red Bull.  The events team is on-site decorating and running through sound checks the entire day before the show, she added.

Arne’s selection to open the show was Ryan KJ, who kicked off the Hip Hop Haven event after 9:00 pm with his signature melodic rap sound.  Members of the audience compared his flow to rappers like Drake, Hoodie Allen, Skizzy Mars, and KYLE.  In the middle of his set, he engaged the audience in a finger dance to accompany his upbeat track “Let’s Kick It (Demo AF).”  

Ti Steele, the night’s only female performer, was the second act of the night.  Steele’s songs highlighted her ability to both deliver bars and sing with conviction, talents perhaps best exemplified when Steele performed her 2023 single “Away,” which she dedicateded to any of the audience’s toxic ex-lovers.  The crowd commented that her sound blended the soulful crooning of SZA, humorous wordplay of Doja Cat, and self-assured swagger of Rihanna.

“I don’t bite,” Steele said playfully to the crowd as she wrapped up her set.  “Unless I want to.”

MaZhe was the third artist to take the stage.  His set was packed with movement as he leapt off the stage and energetically danced in a mosh circle with the crowd.  MaZhe spoke to the audience more often than any of the other performers, inviting them to vote for which of his songs to play next.  He said every song he performed Saturday night had been written in the past week.

Cherry Pop Records’ Hour Haven closed the show with a high-energy 45-minute set.  His sound added experimental spoken word hip hop to the night’s eclectic mix of hip hop subgenres.  Hour Haven also previewed his upcoming single, titled “How Many More Gunshots,” which was released Mar. 15.  The song will mark his first official release since signing with Cherry Pop Records last fall.

“I really hope that Hip Hop Haven is one of the shows that starts bringing light to hip hop,” Arne said.  “I love all the indie bands in Westwood, but I definitely think we need more genre diversity.”

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