Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Just a quick lesson for you all. Hip hop is centered around four core elements. Not coincidently, they're called the "Four Elements." These are the DJ (wax, baby. spinning records), the MC (the shot caller), the graf artist (tagging walls, throwing up huge burners) and the B-Boy, or the break-boy. The break boy got his name from when the break or breakbeat in the record would come in, he would take to the floor and begin dancing. Here's the introduction of breakdancing. Next thing you know, "Electric Boogaloo" blew up and every kid (including my brother) was trying to bust a headspin just before breaking their neck and suing Alfonso Ribeiro.

But this is when it took off. Soon later, a sect, a group, a collection of dancers would begin adopting (mostly creating) a style of dance that would be called "hip hop." It was a trend that was forever captured the movie Save the Last Dance. It starred Julia Stiles getting down with all the kids from the poor neighborhoods as the lone cracka in what is portrayed as a purely black sport (except the token white kid on the far left who looks like he's about to bust out a "Oh, hell yeah!"). How touching. Here's Julia dancing her white tail off.

Look at her shoes, first off. Those ain't no breakin' shoes. Where are the fat laces? Shell-toes? Nah, she's hitting the floor in ballet shoes. Okay, I know she plays a ballerina in the movie so it probably works for the story's sake, but what is tragic about this movie is that it makes it look like the dance known to the mainstream as "hip hop" is an extension of traditional dance movements. Ballet, if you will. Man, I'd be interested as to what Crazy Legs has to say about that. Secondly, everyone's checking her out like, "Oh, this is the next level, man! Her moves are so hot!" Dude, people would be clownin' her at a battle. It's like taking Karate into a martial arts tournament. Karate is like dancing. It really holds very little value as an attack-driven martial art. Karate is like training wheels to real fighting. Lastly, I've never been at a getdown that has goofy helium balloons all around like we're eight years old and little Bobby just turned nine. Whoever did this movie had to have done Dirty Dancing.

For those who need clarification and have thought that "hip hop" really is a dance style. It's called "breaking." This is doing it right:

"Hip hop" is not a style of dance. If you hear a dancer say, "I like many styles of dancing. I'd say I'm most influenced by the urban, hip hop style of dance," smack them. You're a B-Boy/B-Girl or a ballerina. I hate to be absolute because, well, I certainly didn't write the rules, but we gotta set the record street. Because your dancing might have edge or, better, a street edge does not mean you have the right to even mutter the words "hip hop." Just keep it out of your mouth. Say you do "aggressive, street-influenced dance moves," but be careful how loosely you toss around "hip hop." Just because you bust a few rap hands like the gals below who are, in fact, billed as a "hip hop dance group" does not and, I repeat, DOES NOT make you hip hop. Check out these gals:

That is not hip hop. That is seven, eight girls looking like morons trying to act like Julia Stiles and bridge the cultural gap with hardcore street dance moves. Look, dancing will not solve racial issues. Dancing like this might even fuel racial issues. Just stop. It's a mockery of all B-Boys/B-Girls who get gully with their styles. Popular culture would like for you to believe that this is, in fact, a direct extension of the hip hop culture. They'd want you to believe that "hip hop dance" does, indeed, exist. And sometimes even it's captured on the silver screen. But if you don't see a kid in velour and a Kangol doing this:

...then recognize. There is no such thing as "hip hop" as a dance style. It's called "breaking." If someone tries to convince you otherwise, ask them to name just one Schoolly D record and watch them shut up. You don't have to claim ownership over hip hop, but act like ya' know and keep it real. Because if you left up to white kids from the suburbs, hip hop started when Eminem did it and to dance "hip hop style" is to throw up rap hands and pout your lips like a tough kid from a rough neighborhood and then do high kicks.

Preservation. It's not just for our forests anymore.


daunda said...

preach on brotha preach on.

TX said...

As always, well said. And by the way, I sent the "Breakin'" package back and got a nice Lego castle.

Anonymous said...

You have got to be my favorite writer on hip hop culture. You remind me of the Source before it got high on its on press. Until Main Source gets their props for Breaking Atoms, I'll be a loyal reader.

j3 said...

word, anonymous. now stop trying to sell me enlargement pills.


speaking of main source, i was hunting down a copy of "breaking atoms" on vinyl the other day on Ebay and the thing went for $97.

but i gotta feeling you're going to be reading this seriously stupid blog for a long time if you're waiting for main source to get their props. sadly.