In the office it seems like everyone wears slacks and suits and combed-over hair. Due diligence, documents, networking events and billable hours–that’s all there is to life. Most days. And then one night, I had the chance to leave the high-rise hustle and bustle and go underground to see the world of hip hop.
Hip hop’s roots go back to 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, in the Bronx of New York in the 1970’s. As the movement got bigger, Hollywood picked up on it. You know the movies “Flash Dance,” “Beat Street” and “Breakin'”? That’s hip hop. Well, sort of. They focus on break dancing, or “b-boying” as it’s known by insiders.
What is hip hop culture? It’s the DJs, the MCs, BBoys, and the graffiti artists. It’s an entire sub-culture lifestyle. After the popularity of hip hop lost steam, it went underground. People still gather in “crews” to practice their art and keep the culture alive.
My friend, T-Vice (as the bboys call him) took me underground to this “art show” where DJs were scratching records, bboys were dancing, and the graffiti artists were showing their stuff.
It was a special night, because bboy legend, Ken Swift, was in town for a workshop. This guy was one of the original New Yorkers in Rock Steady Crew, when hip hop was really gaining momentum. He judges break dancing competitions (called “battles”) and does workshops with crews of bboys across the States.
As you can probably guess, this was not my usual scene. No wine and cheese, no investors or entrepreneurs, no fancy talk and Louis Vuitton shoes. By getting out of my usual scene, I gained an understanding of the hip hop lifestyle, and an appreciation for how it has influenced popular culture today. Couldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone underground. Yes, I’ll be returning to my office tower (piles of paperwork await!) so learn this lesson– Get out of your comfort zones! Go underground or overseas or wherever to appreciate people different from you! Different cultures! Different values! Different beats! Then when you go back to your office towers, you’ll be different, too! ….(mic drop)……