Hip Hop: A Way of Life: DJ Rasp and the Krip Hop Nation

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At the end of my last post I observed the community spirit of Hip Hoppers and how all their different elements came together to make something Hip Hop. This past weekend has been a busy time for my investigation into Hip Hop. I first went to visit Scratch and Spit resident DJ and turntablist DJ Rasp. I then spent the rest of the weekend with the Krip Hop Nation. From both of these very distinct Hip Hoppers I continued to get this thread of community.

I met Rasp at his home near Warrington, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Rasp and I had met on a couple of occasions, but never in a more personal setting. I too am a scratcher and turntablist so we took the time to jam in his garden shed come studio. This was a pleasure for me as I don’t know too many other scratchers and it was a great opportunity to spend an afternoon talking about technique, kit, the evolution of the art form and digging for records (or lack there of in the digital age). In the spirit of collaboration here is a short video of Rasp and myself scratching (it’s Rasp up first, followed by myself):

It soon became clear to me that Rasp was a very passionate man when it came to Hip Hop: he is a professional DJ, making his living through not only playing sets in nightclubs but also from competing in international DJ competitions and teaching workshops. Furthermore, Rasp is also a key figure in the Liverpool Hip Hop scene, with his production, scratching and raps appearing on numerous records.

Rasp had this to say when I asked him what Hip Hop meant to him: DJ Rasp on Hip Hop

I thought it very interesting that he picked on the Scratch and Spit Weekender as his example of Hip Hop. As can be heard on the audio I too was in agreement; this mini festival incorporated all the elements of what Hip Hop is and by combining them, made an event that was truly Hip Hop. I was also interested to hear that he felt these ideas of collaboration and community were necessary to making something Hip Hop.

I had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with Rasp and it was very kind of him to allow me into his home and meet his wife and daughter. His final quote on where Hip Hop is heading really sums up his attitude towards to the culture: Rasp_ Future of Hip Hop

As part of the Happening Weekend of DaDa Fest 10 International, the DaDa team commissioned the Krip Hop Nation to make a group appearance. The Krip Hop Nation is an international collective of Hip Hoppers with disabilities. The nucleus of the the group is Leroy Moore Jnr, an American, though Krip Hop has members in the UK, Germany and Africa. Over the course of the weekend the collective performed live, conducted DJ workshops, and hosted a social afternoon. I was lucky enough to attend all the Krip Hop activities and I was struck be the level of collaboration within the collective, given that many of them had never met in person. When I asked MC Binkiwoi what he felt about collaboration in Hip Hop he had this to say: Binki Woi

I was very interested to hear Binkiwoi talk of the use of different messages, languages, experiences and culture all united in Hip Hop. I was struck that Hip Hop, something that that the commercial media would have us believe is about negative things, could unite people from across the globe in a creative activity.

During this weekend I also had the chance to interview Leroy. I felt that he represented a very unique view on Hip Hop for two reasons: one was his perspectives on the negative aspects of the culture, given his disability; and secondly that he remembers and was present for the birth of Hip Hop in the late 1970s. When I asked him what Hip Hop meant to him, he had this to say: Leroy Moore What does hip hop mean

What interested me the most about what Leroy said about Hip Hop was the way that he immediately identified community and sharing skills as a key elements in the artform. He was quick to identify the diversity of Hip Hop as being important. What makes this more interesting is that he refers to Hip Hop in its original form, before the commercialisation, something that he himself experienced as young boy in the New York in the 70s. When I spoke the Rasp about this, he too concluded that although Hip Hop has changed and evolved over the past 30 years, he still felt that the ideas of the four elements, the collaboration and community were still fundamental to what Hip Hop is.

I went on to ask Leroy about what he felt about the commercialisation of the culture and whether this was a misrepresentation of the art form: Leroy Moore on the Commercial Image of Hip Hop As can be heard on the audio, he too sees that it is all too easy to gloss over the positive aspects of the culture when one only explores the commercial side. As Rasp too said, “sex and violence sell” and thus this is what we see in the mass media. Following on from this I question I asked Leroy what he thought the positive aspects of the culture were: Leroy Moore on the positive images in Hip Hop I was very pleased to hear that, like me, he felt that knowledge of self was a key message found throughout Hip Hop.

It has been a busy and informative weekend in my exploration of Hip Hop. Though interviewing quite diverse Hip Hoppers, they all returned to the idea of community and collaboration, and that without these, true Hip Hop cannot be made. I am pleased to have met other people who share my passion and beliefs about the culture. Photographically I now want to try and capture this sense of community. But the question is how to do this? I do not want to revert to gig and studio pictures but do want to maintain the humanist element that so interests me. Tomorrow is another instalment of Scratch and Spit, perhaps coming full circle from my last post, with the new information I have will allow me to do this.

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