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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian



Two words: hip hop. What comes to mind? If you are like most people, your mind immediately turns to rappers like Lil Wayne and dances like “Crank that Soulja Boy.” “The problem is most people turn on the radio, and get the perception that it’s hip hop,” said Cricket, a member of Break!, a hip hop dance group from New York.

If you found yourself in Dana Auditorium on the night of Sept. 26, like I did, your perception of hip hop would have changed dramatically. Break! brought their DJ, props, and a crew of five dancers to Guilford and put on a show that both entertained and educated.

Their performance played out like a story, highlighting the primary forms of hip hop dance. High flying dancers hit the stage hard from start to finish, flipping over, around, and even off the stage. Other dancers spun on their heads, slid across floors, and performed stunts that would impress a gymnastics team.

“I have never seen dancing like that in person,” said first-year Justin Stafford. “You don’t realize how good they are (un)til you see it for yourself.”

Break! was the real deal and seemed to be the essence of the word hip hop.

“Hip hop culture has been around, it’s just something we took and ran with it,” said Break!’s host. “It’s all about being creative and gathering inspiration from other elements.”

The inspiration comes from everywhere. Break! references African tribes, James Brown, and even some martial arts movies as sources of hip hop culture.

Though the entire evening was enjoyable, it was the group’s closing act that was perhaps the best part for this writer. The host grabbed the mike and began talking. No dancing, just talking. Kind of an odd feature to find in a dance routine, right? That’s what I thought until I began to listen to his lesson.

Education was on the agenda, and turned out to be more informative than some classes offered on campus. As a hip hop listener, I felt like I was well-schooled on my hip hop knowledge. Lil Wayne, T-Pain, and Chris Brown, right?

Turns out, today’s hip hop is only the tip of the iceberg on a culture that extends back generations. There is more to dancing than bumping and grinding at the club. For Break! it is all about finding inspiration in the music, and expressing your voice through dance. The host went on to explain that Hip hop dancing has evolved into four basic forms: Popping, Locking, Breaking, and Free styling. These four dance styles have given way to a hip hop culture shift. Much of today’s dancing consists of grinding over each other, rather than the skill required in learning complex steps and movements.

The other major transition in hip hop occurred when rappers overtook MCs (Master of Ceremonies). MCs are credited with focusing on real issues and expressing life through lyrics. Rap has evolved into party music with catchy beats and steered away from lyrical poetry and catchy rhymes. “Rappers today are misogynous and disrespectful to women,” said the host. “Everyone is from a woman; why should we disrespect them?”

It’s a thought that stuck with me throughout the night. Why are curse words and disrespectful attitudes the norm of today? Why is there little emphasis on the lyrics, and more focus on the artists themselves? Reversing this shift in culture is what Break! is all about.

“We’re so embedded in hip hop, involved in everything,” said Cricket. “We have a very eclectic taste and we’re just trying to give everyone that experience. If we just reach one, then we are successful.”

So if you happened to find yourself in Bryan Hall on Friday night, instead of Dana, you missed out on more than a dance competition or performance. You missed out on an experience that could have changed your entire view of hip hop and its culture. I know for me, it was an experience that opened my eyes to a whole new world. So good work Break!; you were successful, because you at least reached this one.

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