HIP-HOP: This is my culture, our culture, and your culture, too, if you want.
Wait – Hip-Hop… MUSIC?
No, Hip-Hop CULTURE. A culture that exists in communities all across the globe, no matter their size or economical status. They also exist in our very own city: Vancouver, Canada. Most people are unaware of this movement because, by its very nature, it is what we would describe as an ‘underground hood.’ In other words, you have to be involved with the culture to know what’s happening, but EVERYONE is welcome here…
“Hip-Hop is peace, love, unity, understanding and having fun.” Afrika Bambaata
In brief, Hip-Hop is a lifestyle movement started in the early 70s, in the Boogie Down Bronx, NY; it is first and foremost about community. DJ Afrika Bambaataa, one of the Godfathers of Hip-Hop, states: “Hip-Hop is about peace, love, unity, understanding and having fun. Understanding being Knowledge.” Bambaataa promotes the idea that Hip-Hop exists to bring all nations together, under one house. This Hip-Hop ‘house’ is supported by 4 main pillars of art: (in chronological order) Graffiti Art (visual), DJing (audio turntablism), MCing (oral rapporté), and Breakin’ (physical).
Breaking is not what we do, it is who we are.
What grinds my gears: two misconceptions
1.) I cannot stress this enough, it is NOT called breakdance or breakdancing. ‘Breakdance’ is a label and term coined by the media in the 80s; unable to fully understand this craft, they needed a name that made sense to the general public. The powers of media continue to use this syllogism today for mass appeal: a generalization of things they know nothing about. If they want ratings and followers, it has to relatable and make sense to the masses. It’s the same system that controls most of us to this very day.
Boom, Bap. Ugh.
Boom! Suicidal flop onto their backs. Bap. Crooked, impossible one arm stalls.
Spinning forever on their heads?! Ugh.
I suppose ‘breakdancing’ is almost like an onomatopoeia of what we do. The bulk of media features images of amateurs who are crashing themselves on the floor. I guess ‘break’, and ‘dance’ together would seem logical to the public eye.
And that leads me to my next grind:
– and we call that the Funk.
2.) We are not people who artfully hurt ourselves and are constantly found rolling around, mopping the floor. The B-Boy or B-Girl approach to dance is finesse, originality and something called ‘flavour’. It may be labeled as style – but we call it flavour. We get ‘hype’ when we break and, the philosophy is to express that explosive, creative energy, without once losing composure, all the while remaining in the pocket of the music. The ‘pocket’ refers to the groove – and we call that the Funk.
Again, this is a lifestyle. We breathe this culture.
Although I may focus mainly on the dance element, it takes the pursuit of community and knowledge to fully understand Hip-Hop’s roots. Only by understanding where this has come from and how, can we start to build upon this legacy. In my opinion, Hip-Hop is a nation of people who believe in one thing: we are all under one house. There is no other religion or nation out there that has zero prejudice for different beliefs; EVERYONE is welcome under this umbrella. I truly believe in this movement. Every community needs it. Hip-Hop is an artistic outlet suitable for anyone no matter their age or status. The culture bases itself upon bridging communities through art – imagine a world where rivalry and dispute are settled through creative expressions!
I’d like to add that Hip-Hop saved my life, too, and I feel indebted to sharing its positive powers… but that is a story for another day.
“I live for the Funk, I’ll die for the Funk.”
Until next time.
Boom. Bap. Ugh!
Check out this amazing ‘Rudimental’ music video of how Hip-Hop (particularly Breakin’) makes its positive impact on an individual and community level.
Clip time: 5:29 shot & filmed in the Philippines.