Why I Love Hip Hop – Part 4

4. The DJ

Where would Hip Hop be without a DJ? Nowhere, as Hip Hop music was founded on a pair of turntables. The music evolved from turntables. In the beginning it was with two records which weren’t even Hip Hop. This was before it existed. DJ Kool Herc used two of the same funk records and juggled the break over and over again. Later Hip Hop evolved into a mixture of samples, drum machines and sometimes live instruments. But it all started with a DJ.

Here is a DJ who took it to a whole new level. DJ Q-Bert. In this video you will see him scratching with one turntable and no mixer. Usually the DJ uses the mixer to cut the sound on and off, but here Q-bert uses one hand and no mixer to make music.

Ha, I lied here’s Part 5 – Beatboxing

Why I Love Hip Hop – Part 3

3. The MC

There have been MC’s who had a nice flow, style or sound and there have been emcee’s who wrote interesting lyrics. Few MC’s can do both. Here’s one that’s been around since ’86. He is still performing and rocking as raw as ever. His name is KRS-ONE.

He’s a mentor of mine. Someone who left home in his early teens and lived on the streets for years while honing his craft. He never graduated high school, but now aside from MC’ing he is an associate professor and lectures at Berkley, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, you name it. If anybody can be defined as Hip Hop it is him. And according to him we are not doing Hip Hop we are Hip Hop.

He has written many books including The Gospel of Hip Hop.

Part 4 – The DJ

Why I Love Hip Hop – Part 2

2. Breakers

Also known as B-Boys and B-Girls. Breakers form of expression is through the body. There are different styles of breaking like for example, popping and locking. Here is a video by a couple of lads from Denmark who have added their own twist to breaking. While it may not seem immediately obvious to some that this is Hip Hop. It’s just Hip Hop in a different costume.

Meet Nick and Jeppe.

Part 3 – The MC

Why I Love Hip Hop

My first memory of Hip Hop was from around 1987 or so. And that was a vague memory of the Beastie Boys “Licensed to Ill”. By 1989 I was hooked, and some of my earliest tapes were:

  • De La Soul, “3 Feet High and Rising”
  • Special Ed, “Youngest in Charge”
  • 3rd Bass, “The Cactus Album”

Even before Hip Hop I was a big fan of the group INXS and my favorite song was called, “Guns in the Sky”. And that beat and that sound was what I loved and in retrospect it sounded a lot like Hip Hop.

Anyways here are four reasons why I love Hip Hop. They are also the four main elements of Hip Hop.

1. Graffiti

Graffiti can be skribbles on the wall or notes on the bathroom wall. It’s been around since the cave man. And often it isn’t very attractive or wanted, however sometimes it’s amazing and who doesn’t read the notes in the bathroom stall?

Check out what these guys can do with spray paint.

Part 2 – Breakers

Beastie Boys – MCA Tribute

My first memory of the Beastie Boys involves Nerf basketball. It was around 1987 and I remember playing an intense game of Nerf basketball with my brother in our bedroom  while listening to this new tape that he got from our cousin. That tape was License to Ill by the Beastie Boys.

That was shortly after Licensed to Ill came out. I think that album was one of the best Hip Hop albums of all time. One of those timeless pieces with some of the illest production that still sounds fresh to this day. I still enjoy that album. Anyways this is a bit late as MCA passed away 2+ months ago, but this is a bedroom mix that I did in honor of MCA and the Beasties Boys. It also includes some Pete Rock instrumentals.

How to Meditate

Here is a guide on how to meditate. Here are some important things to remember:

  • Get comfortable. You can sit in lotus pose, in a chair, or lie down in corpse pose as they call it in yoga..
  • Keep your body erect. Sit up if you are sitting.
  • Relax. Focus on relaxing the muscles in your body. Especially focus on relaxing the muscles in your face. Make sure you’re not holding any tension there. Relax.
  • Focus on your breathing. Breath in through you nose and out through your nose. Your breath is key.
  • Set an alarm. I used to meditate 2 times a day for a total of 40 minutes a day, but now I do it for 20 minutes a day. Sometimes I will break these sessions up into smaller increments like 10 or 15 minutes or longer sessions for 30 minutes or more minutes. If you’re just starting out then start small with say 5 minutes or perhaps even less if that seems difficult. Consistency is key, it is better to do it more frequently for a shorter period of time than it is to do it infrequently for longer periods of time.

Here are some other tactics that can be used when meditating:

Use a tone. These are tones like ahhhhhhhhh, ohhhhhhhh and ummmmmmm. You use these when you exhale and you hold the tone for the entire breath in a steady manner until you’re out of breath. Inhale and do it again.

The vibration feels quite therapeutic.

Close your eyes. I always do it this way.

Open your eyes. Focus on a point in front off you. Keep your focus there. Some meditators suggest holding your gaze slightly down.

Pause between breaths. This one is like holding your breath between the inhale and exhale, vice versa or just try it after the exhale or inhale. Hold your breath for a few seconds or however long you feel comfortable with. You shouldn’t have to gasp for air. You’ll notice that your thought typically stops when you momentarily hold your breath.

Focus on your stomach. When in you inhale imagine that your stomach is a balloon and fill it with air. When you exhale release it and gently suck in. This technique works well on nerves. If you’re nervous or stressed a few minutes of doing this will calm you down and get you in your body. This also works well with addressing stage fright, nerves with an interview, public speaking and any situation that gets you worked up.

Scan your body. Start with your feet and move up slowly to your scalp. For example, first focus on your feet and any sensations you feel there and then your ankles up to your shins and so on.

Count breaths. One inhalation and one exhalation is considered one breath. Simultaneously visualizing the number as you count helps too.

There is no magic number as it depends on how fast you count. Counting to 10 is not so difficult for me.

Alternatively you can use a four count. Inhale for four seconds, pause for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, pause for four seconds and then continue.

Learn more about using your breath to meditate.

Watch your mind. Watch what thoughts come and go. If you find yourself getting into a train of thought then let the thought go and return to your breath. Observe your mind.

Rock. Try gently rocking back and forth as you sit.

Generally you want to remain relatively still, however if you have a scratch then scratch it as you will waste more energy trying not to scratch it. Sometimes while sitting I will also do forward folds (used in yoga) where I’ll clasp my elbows and fold over my knees and hang. I can at times also clasp my hands together and put them behind my head. This will help straighten your posture while simultaneously stretching behind your shoulders.