Olaaaaaaaa! So since a couple of months, this topic has been curling up like a pet in a little warm corner of my mind. Artists, Community and Hip Hop – the name perfectly states of what are we about to decipher here. This topic could be relevant to many communities around the world, but we being specifically called Hiphoppas shall understand it in our ways. Also, the reason I chose this topic was that we always know about the performing artists but there is a great deal of behind-the-scenes for a community. As for Hip Hop, we always mention the principle of Unity. So I thought of talking about it in real-time.
What is a Community?
The word Community derives from a Latin verbal root ‘communitas’ which means public spirit. It roots from ‘communis’ or common. ‘Com’ means together and ‘munis’ means to strengthen. That just means we are strong together. Also, the word itself contains another powerful noun UNITY and that’s rad. The Wiki definition says that a community is a social group of living beings who may share common norms, religion, geographical regions, interests, practices, circumstance, action, needs and more. a community can be scaled nationally, internationally and with these modern exploding internet speeds, virtually as well. Reddit would be a quality example of a virtual communities network. I must say, I like the Bboy Reddit community. Qualitative!
Types of Communities
The word community has huge depth, it seemed better to classify and understand. So there are many different types of communities. I am going to just name them below; you can know about further classifications here.
- Geographic & physical communities
- Ideational or abstract communities
- Associative communities
- Other communities (Affinity groups, Intentional community, Learning community, Virtual community, etc.)
Hip Hop can be classified as an Associative Community as we are all bound together due to position, practice, place, purpose, action, circumstance and interest. I am sure many can understand why and how. Yet to understand more, check this –
- Action – Together for a cause or change (Example: To stop social and racial discrimination).
- Circumstance – Together due to a common situation (Example: Bad conditions in the Bronx).
- Interest – Together due to common interests (Example: Art – Elements of Hip Hop).
- Place – Together because of where they live (Example: Most crews grow in the same hood).
- Position – Together due to same phases in life (Example: Teenage, Adults, Parents, etc.).
- Practice – Together for sharing and growth (Example: Crewmates, homies, etc.).
- Purpose – Together as they share the same objectives in their individual lives (Example: Hip Hop)
So to say, that’s how we are an Associative Community. Hip Hop being global it can’t just be called a culture but also a community. Normally known facts state that culture is something people in a community follow. But Hip Hop culture has spread to various communities around the world forming an even larger community of Hip Hop heads. Being this culture, the members are all artists of various kinds. Just watch this track here – Emcees all around the world have come together, even India. That’s the community I am talking about that has grown by the Hip Hop cultural values. Let’s decipher more.
Who is an Artist?
Before we inquire about who an artist is, we must understand what Art is. In the old ages, Art was referred to as a painting, sculpting and architecture. But as time passed, the scope of viewing Art broadened. Literature, interactive media and performing arts like music, dance, theatre, film, etc. started being called and considered Art. In brief, Art is anything that involves human activities to create something from his/her imagination, conceptualization, ideas, skills and creative power. I know! We all know about it. But penning down gives a better understanding. That’s my funda 🙂
According to Wikipedia, the word art is derived from the Latin word ars which means skill method or technique followed by beauty. While the word artist is taken from the French word Artiste. In short, Artist is a person who practices art. Now now, beware! Do not be in a partial understanding of practising art. Because one cannot be called an artist if all he/she does is to be a mere object of display, entertainment, money-machine, fame gamer and everything else that’s valued materialistically. Being an artist means self-study, awareness training, growing out of mindsets, understanding the gross and subtle, etc.
One grows stronger physically, mentally, socially and spiritually as they bloom into an Artist. You learn and share because something so good cannot be kept to yourself. The African saying, “Each one, teach one” fits just fine for an Artist. So you gotta be an artist, to call yourself one. A Hiphoppa gives it to the community by living Hip Hop.
Role of Artists in Hip Hop culture – a global community
Y’all might be thinking why am I discussing something so obvious. Hip Hop artists are the Breakers, Graffiti Writers, Beatboxers, DJs, Emcees and that’s their role. But that’s not what I am referring to. These are the elemental identities you hold as an artist. But on the subtler layer, we all play important and yet different roles for this community that holds cultural values of Hip Hop. We learn from the culture and give it to raise the community. That’s how we pass the torch to the next generation.
Each individual can contribute to the community in their unique blessed ways. They play roles that keep the process of community building to go on seamlessly; either being the face or being the backbone. The most essential roles are given below.
For a commercial artist, it would be his/her/their manager who helps them go ahead without any problem. Similarly in a community, organisers do the hard tasks. Don’t worry, not gonna mention a whole list of promoters here but just one – Bboy MexOne aka David Alvarado (of Unique Styles Crew, Biggest & Baddest, The Bboy Spot and The Squadron). This man was the influential figure in establishing Redbull BC One, movements and brands like Pro Breaking Tour, The Legits, Funk & Furious and Visionary Lifestyle along with scholarships for Bgirls and Bboys.
“Community First“, was his statement that expressed all this dedication in raising the community into a self-sufficient and self-employed place. He raised many community leaders and supporters. Although he lived a short life (19th April 1982 – 18th September 2017), he made the most of it – for him, for his son Daniel and for Hip Hop. In his honour, April 19 is celebrated as Mex One Day His old friend Spen1 shared his feelings in TheBboySpot.com article –
This man puts me in tears. Y’all must know about this person if you don’t. If you haven’t realised why I talked about him then just go and watch videos, read all the articles about him. My words about what an organiser is to this community ends here. He made a fine example. Love him.
2. Educators & Teachers
After you dig about Mex One, y’all must have realised he was an educator too. He lived and preached Hip Hop. We admire many DJs, Emcees, Writers, Breakers and many many more who play an educator’s role in our life. An educator seeks to introduce a deep understanding(intellectual, moral, and social instructions) in the students that they shall carry in the rest of their lives. One such educator is KRS-One. Trust me, the Gospel of Hip Hop by him is an absolute street knowledge guide. It is soul talk, baby!
A teacher is a person who instructs only. So an educator is a teacher, but a teacher cannot necessarily be an educator. Both are important to the community in their own ways. Imagine how would it be for us, if Bboy Storm’s fundamentals video wasn’t available. He taught us the basics we needed, he gave us the direction. That’s what a teacher does. As time advances, a teacher transforms into an educator with his/her life experiences and re-learning. Because by the end of the day they are artists as well.
Now, this role of artists in the Hip Hop community is scaled in variety as supporters are approximately 70% of the community. They are the participating people whose presence makes a huge difference in vibe, motivation and success of any jam, event or gig. They are the people who show up. But this showing up keeps everyone high spirited to give their best. They are like street lights; you won’t realize their importance when they don’t work in the dark. And so I call them Supporters. In fact, all of us who show up are supporters. We would miss chilling, talking, exchanging, battling, learning and everything that’s Hip Hop – Peace, Unity, Love and Having Fun.
In a nutshell…
Artists are the ones playing these roles in the Hip Hop community globally. The major reason behind this is because only an artist would understand why these roles are essential. First, if there are no organizers around then we would fall scarce of jams and events. We wouldn’t have had a global scene like we have today; may it be of any element of Hip Hop. They are see great potential in people and community and build opportunities for them. Second, with no educators and teachers, there won’t be a proper direction to walk ahead. They are the essentials. Third, with no people and homies, you won’t be HAVING FUN. Hehe!
The Gospel of Hip Hop mentions that to be a Hiphoppa is the one who springs forward with actual intelligence. I would like to alter it a bit – a Hiphoppa means who springs forwards with actual intelligence gained with the help of everyone, each artist, the whole community and obviously the cultural values passed on by them. These artists keep the community strong while Hip Hop culture roots deeper in the young minds. So let’s take a moment to thank all our mothers, fathers, brothers and sister for making such a stronghold for our community.
Haaaa! Finally. Now I’ll be chilling with some treats. See ya next time. Peace out twiddleberries. (P.S. don’t know what it means, just sounds cute 🙂 Heh.