Hip Hop and PLUR
Dance Culture Knows No Color Or Genres- ONLY Community.
This is something that is rarely talked about. So I’m going to address an elephant in the room. This is something that makes suburbanites who pay for VIP twitch but it needs to be broken down, after all, that’s the tastiest part of many tracks the DJ’s play and alone gave rise to several genres of popular dance music. What is this woman talking about? The raves debt to Hip Hop and the urban black community and culture of House Parties.
How many people really know the history of the House Party? It was a way to gather money to make the rent. You invited the local musicians who played, records were spun, friends made, people talked, shared food, fellowship and danced long into the night. Hopefully the collection plate got enough to make the rent or mortgage payment and all the creative talent got well-fed and maybe a couple bucks to go home with. It was common in poor predominantly black neighborhoods and gave rise to an active culture based around music and community. It became a big party via dilution and eventually even became a rave theme (and yes, raves did pay the promoters rents, LOL). It’s been diluted like the phrase “Raise The Roof” was- it was more than a popular dance move. The roof represents the limitations that loomed over people. It was social commentary. To “Raise the roof” begs we work together to increase our mutual potential rather than oppressing competition “Let’s raise the roof, my enemy; the glass ceiling is keeping us all down.” See the Glass Ceiling Act, as part of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.The Chicago and Detroit House scenes, as well as West Coast Funk which came out of the Dust Bowl Migrations of sharecroppers, came out of the 1900-1970 Black Southern Diaspora to Northern cities and set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement and put the organizations and groups, often church-based, in place to fight for social justice for disenfranchised blacks.
Hip Hop grew out of that. The four pillars of Hip Hop culture are graffiti art, break dancing, DJing (cuttin’ and scratching) and emceeing (rapping).
The Graffiti Art has transformed and elevated into a fine art. With tagging becoming murals and people turning derelict and abandoned buildings,like the former Glidden Factory in ATL, as well as EL bridges and highway overpasses into museums of street art. But like the Glidden Factory, the art of the tagger or street artist can be very temporary. Gentrification and public works will always break out the pressure washer and paint over and in doing so, gave the artists a new canvas to leave their mark and express themselves on. The impermanence of the street art and peoples precarious socio-economic status encouraged the visual artists to compete in a friendly way and to make bigger and more elaborate tags and works of paint. When you see Banksy, you see Street Art, it is elevated graffiti. Basquiat and other we consider fine artists also came from the street art tradition.
Breakdancing and street dancing that came out of funk dancing in Cali and dancing at clubs to rhymes over the instrumental breaks and dub plates of a song. This singing and rhyming over (dubbing) and encouraging a call and response with the audience and group participation at club events, starting with Kool Herc, who broke reggae-based rhythms brought with him from his Jamaican roots to clubs in the Bronx. There came a playfulness to dance culture, people used playground and jump rope songs which influenced early breakbeats classics and songs such as “Double Dutch Bus” from Frankie Smith, a local artist from my hometown, Philadelphia. Earliest rave culture and even today’s kandi kids raver subculture celebrate the fashions and trends of their childhood in a similar way. The DJ in old school early Hip Hop and at raves were both expected to serve as the main entertainment and host of the event. They were expected to know the attendees and ensure everyone had a good time.
Street Dance styles have evolved and grown and drawn from all possible traditions to become what it is now and it is not just what you see on a music video, there are still breakdance competitions and crews forming and doing battle. In Atlanta, Waba Replay is teaching Hip Hop dancing, from the Fundamentals of Funk with Zulu Nation and FunkLordz Mr. Cool, Breakdance, Bronx style, and Floorwork with Zulu King Quic, Hip Hop Fitness every weekday with Poppi’ Magic and pop and lock and the variants on those such as strobing, ticking and tutting with SideShow VanGogh of The Circus. At Waba, dancers of all levels, all races, all genders, are welcome to come learn, lab and level up and share their knowledge as dancers and performers.
There are newer evolutions of dance such as “krump” which is a very energetic forceful form of dance that serves as a positive and therapeutic release for strong emotions channeled through dance. It may look intimidating and boisterous, but actually, all street dance is about self-control and self-mastery. Dance battles became a way to deal with social conflicts and frustration, it allowed dancers to create strong bonds and created foster families that encouraged and promoted each other in their skills. Older dancers served as big brothers and sisters to younger dancers just like rave elders “Rave moms” and “Rave dads”/”Veterans” looked after the younger people in the scene and taught them the culture, language and traditions. Dance is always growing and evolving. You will see street dance at raves now, as dance battles can happen and when a strutter or two or bboy cuts loose at the rave or at a club, they are the show and it’s the greatest, most sincere compliment a DJ can still get to inspire a dancer to go all out and “go hard or go home”. I’ve seen dance battles to excellent non-Breakbeat Djs so great dancers and great music knows no boundaries or limits. It also knows no color or gender as all our rave scene comes from early Hip Hop culture.
DJ’s became incredibly important as they were the high priests of the church of Hip Hop. The DJ used rhyme and rapping- emceeing, the other main musical component to raise social issues, to express oneself and try to unite and strengthen the bonds of the Hip Hop Community. Early House DJ’s like Frankie Knuckles and DJ Pierre used pop music and Hip Hop to create new genres, following the footsteps of Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force, Newcleus and Grandmaster Flash to use samples and create tracks that encouraged dance, self-expression and a strong sense of community. The House DJ became community leader and role model as well and the DJ Booth became a place, which was heavily Hip Hop influenced, became called “the pulpit” and the DJ’s set was the “sermon” where they delivered the message. In Hip Hop and Early Raves, the focus was on LOVE, Brotherhood and the one universal religion, music and dance. Many experienced DJ’s still see a set as a sermon to the audience and want to play a set that affirms life and a positive message and provokes thought. Clubs still have emcees who “rap” and talk and stir up the audience. Raves featured emcees and shared much with Hip Hop.
As for rave and Hip Hop culture being kin, all one need do is look at early rave pictures. The fashions were the same. Oldschool ravers dressed for comfort, for dance and wore brands shared by the Hip Hop fashion aesthetic. Track suits, parachute pants, denim overalls, sneakers, and Adidas visors and Kanga hats were common. Ravers dressed like Hip HopHeads and Hip HopHeads made themselves at home in the rave scene as well. Raves were once the United Nations of Dance- all genres, all styles and the Hip Hop DJ’s performed alongside the House cats and those who did newer genres. PLUR- the old rave code of conduct was derived from the values of Hip Hop. Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, what everyone needs to live.
The Best DJ’s were those who learned their skills from the Hip Hop DJs and learned production from those who did Hip Hop. New forms of “breakbeats” also became part of the rave such as Trip Hop, a form of dream-like psychedelic Hip Hop, best personified by the raps and soulful vocals and tight sampling in pieces by Massive Attack that also incorporated different instrumentation and put a heavier emphasis on the melody over the breakdown. Big Beat also came about with The Chemical Brothers and Prodigy. Cypress Hill and House of Pain also introduced new flavor to the Hip Hop scene. Hip Hop 7” singles by Bobby Brown and Shannon were on Top 40 radio stations 30 years before radio edits of club hits were ever on FM radio. Hip Hop singles paved the way for Swedish House Mafia’s “One” on the radip. BT’s “Movement in Still Life” which featured tracks feat. Rasco, Fifty Grand, Scratching by legendary Breaks DJ Peanut Butter Wolf and written by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Melle Mel & Duke Bootee.
BT – Emotional Technology (Platinum Edition) Full Double Album
BT directly bridged the gap between Hip Hop and EDM directly and drum and bass albums that followed also would pull in the skills of Qbert and other serious scratch and other breaks DJs. Sadly now, Hip Hop and other Electronic Dance Music are kept divided by program managers for radio stations but a real BBoy can and will dance to any style of music that touches their soul and any groove that gets them wanting to “Go Hard or Go Home!” A battlecry borrowed and now part of rave culture. BBoys just don’t dance to rare grooves, they dance to whatever inspires them from Breaks, Soul, R&B, Jazz, Latin, Electro, Trap, Pop, and yes, there is even breakdancing to Trance. They reinvent music. They interpret music through dance and DJ’ing.
Emcees were more than just personalities, poets, storytellers, local historians and their raps were more than poetry, rhythm and rhyme. Emceeing and rapping to the beat was a creative art that was accessible to anyone without special gear, and could be practiced anywhere and eventually entered the mainstream. It was due to commercial and corporate interests that it began to become corrupted. Instead of emcees and dancing in battles to be declared the “most def” (coolest) it became a thing for dreamsellers to exploit young talent and many young urbanites began to see rap and the growing influence of gangster rap that did not have a positive message to just “Get your back up off the wall! Dance! Come on!”, as Kool and the Gang sang in that 1981 funky dance classic that is sampled often in Bboy sets. Old Hip-Hop had meaning/ substance. Violence, hard drugs, the things that Hip Hop originally was a social movement to fight against and which encouraged people to avoid and overcome by exercising control, confidence and skill. The less positive and healthy aspects of rapping became what was profitable, became a business, New Hip-Hop based around profit. It became twisted from its original purpose as a unifier of people and the message of joy, health, fun and an adopted family through music and dance and art started going deeper underground.
Well, Love and Respect should never be out of style. You should know your history. You should love yourself, you should love others. You need to respect yourself before you can genuinely respect others. Authenticity matters.
Waba provides the place for you to come and learn, share and grow as a dancer, an artist, a music producer, an emcee, a DJ. What matters is you create. Waba is a place where creators create and are challenged to do better and do right for the community. One can learn dance, art, do retrogaming, make new friends and learn to make beats even or even compose all in an environment that welcomes everyone. All skill levels welcome, we provide a healthy place where you can create. We’ve no room for hate. We encourage each other and are a community based on the Hip Hop meaning of “Higher Infinite Power, Helping Our People”. Our people is inclusive humanity, one race, the human race, and at present, the people of the Metro Atlanta area, but we dream big and we love big and we dare big. Someday, the world will hopefully learn to love, learn respect, learn peace and unity and encourage each other to become a better creators everyday and have fun and do so in a place where all are welcome provided they come with a open mind, a willingness to learn, to share and to grow as a person. WaBa is a Korean invite to “Come By, Stop In, Come Visit”. It is a community HQ for skilled hobbies and gaming. We have built it so people in all the scenes, crews and subcultures of dance and music and retrogaming culture have a place to belong, a place to learn, lab and level up.
You can be a better dancer, you can be a great emcee, you can get fit, learn mastery of your body, you can paint, draw, write, do yoga, you can even play Tekken or Super Smash Brothers and practice all day for $5 bucks for a session, $3 to dance, and our Morning Rush fitness classes that prepare people to dance and $10 for classes with members of Zulu Nation, founded by Afrika Bambaataa himself and other exceptional dancers and musicians that call Waba their special place. Special workshops from the likes of Jazzy J, who choreographed and taught Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, J.Lo and Shakira their moves are only $15.
Come By, Play, Learn, Experiment, Express Yourself and Share that skilled hobby, talent or interest that makes you unique in all the world. Leave the ugliness, negativity, drama behind. Step off of from the booty and bling of commercialized rap culture and experience Hip Hop how it was. It’s a beautiful thing. Let’s share something special together.