Thursday, November 6, 2008

Breaking It Down by Sam Weinstein

When I think of krumping, I think of guys in baggy jeans thrashing around and going crazy to violent, angry rap music. I had no idea, until doing a little research, that krumping has a history, and a rich one at that. It started in South Central Los Angeles, and has become a major part of hip-hop culture. The style references African-American roots, and tribal dance. “Dance battles” are a big part of krumping, much like they used to be with break-dancing. The music people krump to is predominantly hip-hop based. It’s called “Buck” music and the originators call themselves The J-squad. They have some really good beats and instrumentals. Here is a link to see Lil C and The Neph Squad krumping to one of their tracks.

Someone who is definitely more well known, and someone I never knew was a krumper is Chris Brown! I was surprised to find out that he is really into it, and he doesn't just do a showy, watered down, choreographed version in his performances. Here is a link so you can see what I mean. Of course he has backup dancers on stage with him, but in my opinion he kills it with or without them.

Another style I wanted to look at was Popping and Locking. Popping is characterized by quickly contracting and relaxing your muscles to produce a jerking effect. Different parts of the body can be isolated, so you can do a chest pop, an arm pop, or a neck pop, etc. This style is also influenced by music, and popping is done to the beat of the music. When popping began, it was danced to funk, disco, and other music popular in the 1970's. Now it is predominantly danced to hip-hop, and some forms of electronica. I knew about popping and locking but I guess I never gave them enough credit, I mean come on, they're street styles right? It doesn't matter where they come from though. These techniques are legit and I was proved wrong when I discovered some pretty in-depth articles that were frankly, very impressive. Here, a guy who goes by the name "Boogie Walker" explains the differences between popping and locking-“locking has more of an ethnocentric and specialized foundation. I would consider the foundation of all styles of popping something related to mime. Mime has been around for thousands of years and in almost all cultures around the world. Locking, on the other hand, has its foundation directly and specifically in the African American dance tradition, going all the way back through the soul/Motown era to tapping and hoofing in the Vaudeville era. The principles of mime (isolations, illusional movements) are things that many people across many cultures have both discovered independently of each other and are found universally impressive due to their illusional nature.” I never would have thought that there could be such profound thought and writing about the nature of a street style! It just goes to show you never to judge something you don't know enough about.

The last thing I want to leave you with is this relatively new notion of Lyrical Hip-hop. So You Think You Can Dance really paved the way with this new style, and you rarely see any other form of hip-hop on the show now. One of the judges, Adam has confirmed that the show has explored a new style of hip-hop and that it has, without a doubt, "become a really legitimate, beautiful genre on its own." So, one last video clip of a medley of phenomenal lyrical hip-hop, enjoy ;)

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