Juice Jam 2017

Unimpressed by Juice Jam lineup, students put together their own music festival

Lizzie Michael | Asst. Photo Editor

Seniors Ryan Bolton and Josh Floyd organized "Blacker the Berry" together. Within a week duo pulled together a lineup of local performers including DJ Zel, DJ Dez, DJ2, Cadence, Bolton and Phil the Artist.

It started out as a pipe dream.

Sitting in the car on the way to get Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Ryan Bolton and Josh Floyd threw around the idea of hosting an alternative Juice Jam. Having read the lineup, they knew Juice Jam was not where they would be on Sunday.

“I was disappointed. After what happened with Fetty Wap last year, I figured that at the very least they would go all out to try to make up for it,” said Bolton, a senior computer engineering major at Syracuse University.

“I thought it was a joke,” said Floyd, a senior public health major.

Students showed up and showed out for “Blacker the Berry,” the alternative Juice Jam celebration held in University Village Apartments on Colvin. Originally supposed to be held at Slocum Field, according to the flyer, the event was moved due to Department of Public Safety officers patrolling in the area.

For organizers Floyd and Bolton, 2017 would be their last Juice Jam as students. They didn’t want to let the day go to waste because they were disappointed by the lineup. Sunday’s festivities were partly inspired by “Black Castle,” a counter celebration to Mayfest.

Floyd put the idea of an alternative Juice Jam in a Class of 2018 group chat. Within 10 minutes, his message had 27 likes, and by the end of the day it was the most liked message within the past month and had dozens of responses. Some offered their services and others, their support.

“It became a thing of its own after that. People wanted it so we were like, ‘Why not just take the initiative and make it a thing,’” Bolton said.

Within a week Bolton and Floyd pulled together a lineup of student artists and DJs. Hype for the event gained traction when the flyer was released on Friday, said Regina Cho, one of the attendees.

The “Blacker the Berry” lineup consisted of: DJ Zel, DJ Dez, DJ2, Cadence, Bolton and Phil the Artist.

About half of the performers are campus staples, the others are up-and-coming in the Syracuse scene, Bolton said. It’s an opportunity for the newer performers to get their name out there and build a following, he added.

Aside from music, “Blacker the Berry” featured a twerk competition, the winner received an American Express gift card. Project GRIND, a mentorship program for kids in the Syracuse City School District, sold food plates for $5.



Lizzie Michael | Asst. Video Editor

Although people have dubbed the event “Black Juice Jam,” the organizers decided against that as the official name, instead choosing “Blacker the Berry” — a cultural and song reference from Kendrick Lamar’s song by the same name.

“Calling it the Black Juice Jam just isn’t that inclusive,” Floyd said.

The event, open to all SU students, is a platform to show off the talents and music of the black community at Syracuse University, since representation was lacking on University Union’s behalf, Bolton said.

“Chances are, we weren’t really represented in the discussions of who we wanted as a performer,” Bolton said. “They probably thought Ugly God would suffice us, but he has a very niche audience.”

Cho agrees that having Ugly God wasn’t enough. While she likes Diplo as an artist he didn’t have enough of an urban appeal.

“To see other people’s excitement behind an idea that started in a car is really astounding to me,” Bolton said. “It shows how much we can do when we come together.”


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