Talents collide at Campus Center Plaza

By Xavier Johnson, Scene Editor

Rapper Mi’Jae “Vision” Wilson won a $200 scholarship award after taking first place for her performance in the inaugural Battle of Talents in the Campus Center Plaza Thursday.

The biology major performed three songs, two being original, called “What They Gon’ Do (W.T.G.D)” and “Know.” Her first place victory was secured through getting the loudest cheers among the seven competitors.

Medical assisting major Joiee Chan won $170 for her second place finish and journalism major Michael Santone won $150 for placing third. Award money was provided by the Associated Student Union.

“We had enough on the budget to raise the scholarship amounts,” Astrid Pumaricka, ASU vice president of club affairs, said. “Everyone is going to receive a certificate of participation and we are planning to give a small award to those who haven’t won anything.”

Wilson said, “I knew I’d be first or second. I am starting to gain more confidence and I knew I’d place in the top two. I had fun and enjoyed it.”

Despite not performing for several years, Wilson’s fiery performance and crowd interaction showed the flair of a seasoned performer with little rust.

“I’ve been writing songs since I was 15 and rapping since I was 10,” Wilson said. “This is the first step of me getting back into performing.”

Among the seven performers, various experience levels were represented, such as the opening act where kinesiology major Xavier Contreras performed an electric guitar jam. Contreras said Battle of Talents was his first time ever performing.

“I said you know what, YOLO I’m gonna do it. It’s an experience. For me it was fear and nervousness, but I knew I’d learn from it,” Contreras said.

Other neophyte performers included Santone who finished third off a strong first-time stand-up comedy set with various pop culture references and a heavy dose of self-deprecation.

Santone was the solo non-musical act of the Battle of Talents.

“I didn’t expect to take third. I saw the competition on audition day and I saw a lot of people that were very talented,” Santone said.

While performers like Santone and Contreras lacked experience, there were some students that came in with substantial experience.

Chan performed an original acoustic song “Good Circulation,” which earned her second place.

She said Thursday was the first time she performed her original song in front of an audience and liked how the song flows when played live.

“This is one of the favorite songs that I wrote. I would have preferred to be closer to the audience to better connect with them,” Chan said.

Chan said when she writes songs like “Good Circulation” the lyrics are inspired by on-the-spot emotions and the melodies she comes up with throughout the songwriting process.

Jshania Owens and her mother Jayme Suarez each performed solo singing sets with similar laid back vibes.

Owens performed two Amy Winehouse songs while Suarez performed “Killing Me Softly with His Song” by Fugees.

Finishing off the event was a special performance by First Contact. ASU Senator Christopher Miller plays bass for the thrash metal quartet that sports significant accolades, like winning the 2013 Gorilla Music Oakland Battle of the Bands.

The event, sponsored by the ASU and Outdoor Adventure Klub, was also a vehicle to raise awareness about human trafficking in the Bay Area with a donation box available with the tagline “Unite Against Child Trafficking.”

According to statistics from the Polaris Project, at least 56 percent of the victims of human trafficking around the world are women. In the United States, a particular problem is child trafficking with an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 prostituted children in the country, according to the Polaris Project.