Battling the Stereotype: Hip-Hop

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Text by: Abish Shakya

‘Hip-hop is just a form of dance or genre of music.’ This is how I used to perceive hip-hop culture before. But I found myself ‘totally wrong’ after I attended ‘Hip Hop International Nepal Dance Championship 2016’ and its pre-finale workshops aimed at sharing true values of hip-hop among hip-hop enthusiasts.

Exaggerated portrayal of hip hop music for commercial purposes, and bad publicity stunts and ideas of artists’ lifestyles have framed hip-hop as a ‘not-to-go’ world but interactions conducted at pre-event workshops unfenced my mind, and I finally agreed that hip-hop, indeed, is a peaceful culture which has reached out to the far ends of the world, and has unified youths. As I believed, the culture is rather trying to rebel, find solutions to social problems, and is nothing as vulgar as shown on popular TV. Behind notorious sides, there is more.

Living in a digitized world, youths of Nepal have been influenced by hiphop culture years before and for which, many people are discontented with the influence of western culture it has. But experts believe that the hip-hop culture has positively affected Nepali culture.

“Hip-hop is trying to develop a deeper understanding with cultures all around the world, not forsake it. We are rather setting a platform to allow Nepalese to share their unique identities with the world, while learning from cultures of the world,” says Ian Levia, Technical Director, Hip Hop International, the producer of multiple live and televised street dance competitions founded in 2002.

Explaining the propensity of hip-hop, and required maneuvers to promote Nepali culture, DeepeshThapa, director of Nepal Hip-hop Foundation, a NGO formed in 2010 with a motive to create unity among youths, says, “Hip-hop has done more good to the Nepalese youths than bad; rather, it is bringing world culture together,” adding, “World dancers will love to dance in Nepali tunes composed from ethnic instruments like sarangi, dhime or madal.”

As a continuation to the culturesharing, finale of ‘Hip Hop International Nepal 2016’, a nationwide hip-hop championship, was organized by Group of Event Entertainers in coordination with Nepal Hip-hop Foundation, on May 28 at Nepal Academy Hall, Kamaladi, wherein, international hip-hop maestros Ina Levia (Trinidad and Tobago), J.DA and K.I (both from Thailand) adjudged the performances of Nepali hip-hop dancers, and selected winners under different categories, who will be competing at World Hip Hop Dance Championship 2016, taking place at Las Vegas from 5 to 13 August. Days before the event, workshops were conducted to underline real values of hip-hop.

“Dance crews from Nepal are getting a chance to represent our country in the international stage, and promote our culture,” says AnupSaxena, the director of Group of Event Entertainers, the organizer of the championship.

Besides promotion and sharing of cultures, hip-hop culture has tendencies in preventing youths from taking wrong directions in their lives, experts believe.

“Countries in the western world have after-school fun programs where tutors instruct the youths the right ways to become a part of a community-be it dance club, poetry club or anything else. Youths in Nepal spend an awful amount of leisure time involving in unproductive activities when they couldhave learned so much or contributed something to the community,” says Thapa, “To divert their wrong involvement, we are bringing kids together, teaching them real elements of hip-hop, involving them in making positive impacts in the community and creating unity in a bid to make their future glorious.”

To continue their endeavors, NHF has been organizing programs carrying social messages, mostly focusing on ending violence, promoting health and education, conserving environment and many others. With most students being drop outs, NHF has been venturing to provide a chance to make positive impacts in the community while letting them explore hip-hop, and create unity among youths. Especially, less privileged have been provided with opportunities for education and make their future glorious.

Hip hop is all about what we get and what we give. We should praise how the common interest towards hip-hop has brought people of many countries around the world together. We should see hip-hop for what it is, not hold on to the same vile visions we had of it before.

Origin of Hip-hop

Hip-hop is a culture which came out from differences among youths in crime and poverty-ridden neighborhood of South Bronx, New York City, USA. At a time when racism was at its prime, the black community formed gangs to protect themselves as they felt insecure in a white police protection. Multiple gangs formed and rivalled with each other, invoking violence within the community.

AfrikaBambaataa, also known as the father of hip-hop, was a member of a dominant gang called ‘Black Spades’, and with his persuasion, many youths drew into his gang.

One day, Bambaataa got a chance to visit Africa after winning an essay contest, where he saw dire conditions of Africans who had no food, clothes, water and poor housing conditions but still living with life. Inspired by the Zulu tribes of Africa, his perception towards life changed, and no longer wanting to be involved in gangs, he came back to the US, and formed ‘Universal Zulu Nation’, a hip-hop awareness group.

Now wanting to unite various gangs and live in a peaceful community, he looked for ways to organize cultural events for youths of Zulu nation, and brought B-boying, a form of dance. While DJ KoolHerc created merry-go-round loops, Afrika included emceeing and graffiti, which represented different manifestations of the culture. Combining DJing, emceeing, B-boying and graffiti, hip hop was created.

Years later, in 2005, The United Stated House of Representative official recognized hip-hop as a community. Hip-hop gradually incorporated different cultures by unifying people and helping each other by sharing knowledge and opportunities. It might have grown and changed in many ways, but the foundation is rooted to its philosophy of peace, love and fun. Now, with no boundaries, hip-hop is not just for black or young, but for all races, and now has become a global phenomenon.

Winners of Hip Hop International Nepal Dance Championship 2016

mCrew Winner: Allied 20 crew ( No of member 7 )

m2 on 2 All Style Battle Winner: Mongolian Boys

m1 on 1 Breaking Battle Winner: Suman BK

m1 on 1 popping Battle Winner: MahendraThapa

m1 on 1 Locking Battle Winner: JenishaDongolMaharjan.

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