Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hip Hop Week: History

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I didn't know Hip Hop until I was a sophomore in high school. I mean, I had heard rap before, but I didn't understand that the whole thing was a culture--including dance, art, poetry and music. But that all changed when Scott's family moved into our neighborhood from San Diego.

Scott was my age, drove a motorcycle and graduated from high school early. He would invite me over on Sunday nights where he'd battle with his brothers in break dancing on a pummeled cardboard box in their backyard. He fascinated me. His brothers fascinated me. Their pants held up by leather belts around their mid-thighs fascinated me.

They introduced me to The Sugarhill Gang, Coolio and LL Cool J. Scott taught me how to read graffiti when we'd ride around town on his yellow motorcycle. I didn't understand the background he shared with his brothers, or the culture he left behind in moving to the most white and conservative place in America, but everything they taught me was intoxicating. I liked how being around them and their culture made me feel interesting...and sort of dangerous.

From that friendship I learned to love the beats of Hip Hop. A few years later I found The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and devoured it over and over.  From there I listened to Alicia Keys. When I found Christopher I also found Jurassic 5. More recently I've been devoted to the amazing Janelle Monae.

And I have to thank So You Think You Can Dance for turning on my admiration for Hip Hop dance. Hip Hop, Lyrical Hip Hop, the Popping, the Breaking, the Krumping. (Basically all things Twitch.) I could watch it for hours and hours. And in fact, sometimes I put the kids to bed and do just that.

So, we're putting on Provo's first ever downtown Hip Hop show on Friday. And yes, I know it consists of mostly white performers, but it's full of people who have a lot of heart and a lot of respect for this art form. And hopefully their representation will inspire more like them to come here. And in a small way this show is a tribute to Scott and his brothers, and the great Hip Hop Pioneers decades ago, and anyone who turns marginalization into something magnificent.

Warming up the stage tomorrow night is Mimi Knowles, check him out here:

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