Monday, December 13, 2010

Brotalk and Hip-Hop

I love it.
Right now, unfortunately, there's really no one in my life that I can tell my deepest secrets to. Not my best friend Henry, not Kim, not Alex, not even my girlfriend Robin; and it's not even because they aren't trustworthy, quite the opposite, actually, they are actually the four people in my life that I am the closest to. It's because when you were raised the way I was, trust is something that doesn't come easy.
That's why I love having personal talks with people I know. It gives me a sense of trust and community. Each time I have one of these talks, the shell of distrust and self-consciousness I've built up breaks bit by bit. Slowly, I feel like I can share things that I've never shared with anyone before (and God knows there's a hella lot of that). I kinda feel more close to the person/people I have these talks with because they show their vulnerable side. It's a real bonding thing. You don't forget these people. You can't.
Maybe someday I can be that open book that I actually want to be. I want people to understand me and know who I am.

Now on a completely unrelated topic, I want to talk about the definition of hip-hop.

Last year I was introduced into the world of the Hip-Hop subculture by my dear friend and mentor Alex Susanto. He taught me that hip-hop was a subculture, a mindset, and shouldn't be defined by what the media says it is. It's not a fad, and it's not Jay-Z's music, it's not gun-violence, 40-oz bottles of malt liquor, or pants that sag past your scrotum.

Hip-Hop was a form of expression. It's a lifestyle.

Thennn.. he kinda turned it all around. He put a metaphorical fence around what was hip-hop and what wasn't. More specifically, he clearly drew a line between "hip-hop" and "street jazz".

For those of you who don't know, here's the basic gist of what I was told.

Hip-Hop dance, in its essence, is popping, locking, and b-boying. It's cyphers, freestyles and battles. That's all well and good (I actually love cyphers, even though I'm total noobsauce), but a big part of it is distinguishing that the choreography style that people see on America's Best Dance Crew and So You Think You Can Dance is in fact, not hip-hop.

The reason I bring this up is because this summer I was looking for a dance studio in Chicago that had a strong hip-hop choreography class or fundamentals of hip-hop class. I found this one studio (Visceral Dance Studio) which actually had a couple hip-hop classes, but the reviewers said that it wasn't "real" hip-hop, so I didn't go.

But now, I thought about it, and I really regret not going during the summer.

I don't agree with the mentality that choreography should not be a part of hip-hop. I think that choreography has just as much of a place in the hip-hop subculture as popping, locking, or b-boying. Hip-Hop is a form of expression, it should all depend on the mindset of the dancer and what he or she does with the choreography.

A prime example of what I mean is Lyle Beniga. He is a choreographer and most old-school hip-hop practitioners don't really know about him because I feel like they are so close minded to choreography. That's a shame too, because to me, he embodies the hip-hop spirit. He's got the swag, attitude, and he's built in fundamental hip-hop technique into his choreography style; yet, he'd still be considered "street jazz" and I feel like that's just wrong.

It just seems very hypocritical that people who are in hip-hop preach about freedoms in expression and culture of dance, but are so close minded and shun something that is so obviously hip-hop at its core.

So you know what, this winter break, I'll be going to Visceral. Taking those hip-hop courses. Even if it really"isn't hip-hop", I'll make it into hip-hop myself.


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