Monday, November 12, 2012

Not Giving In: Beautiful slum x bboy uplift

Hello again world! I've been doing other projects lately, but I just had to post this beautifully done Philippine bboy uplift and escape narrative featuring the music of Rudimental.  The shots are artfully done, and it seems they have a balloon or a helicopter camera.  The acting is superb.

The neorealistic video tells the story of Ereson Catipon aka Mouse a bboy from the harcore slums who dodged many obstacles to become a Philippine bboy champion.  He moved to UK in 1996 and continued to win championships in UK and worldwide.     

The guys at Epicenter--the "Sports Center" for Bboys and Bboy culture--had a chance to interview Mouse at the beginning of their 6th episode.  You can listen to this interview here, beginning around 10:50-30:20:

Special thanks: Chesca and Chris Woon!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tastemakers of the Metro? Philippine hip hop DJs shape hip hop's "soul"

DJ Arbie Won diggin in the crates at his record store
Creative Control

A flourish of guitar strings, the clap of crisp snares, and the boom of kick drums drive the beat as a vocalist croons a sultry melody. This musical ambiance accompanies the decor of DJ Arbie Won's record shop, which stands as a testament to a particular hip hop sensibility.  Iconic hip hop imagery such as Run DMC posters decorate the walls, stacked crates of rare vinyl hug the sides of the room, a photo of an Egyptian pyramid dangles below the air conditioner unit, and a number of turntables and beat machines lay around. A customer "digs" in a crate of soul records.

As we chat, samples of Arbie Won's upcoming album United Freestyles 3 plays in the background. The music can easily pass as "state-side" independent hip hop except for the occasional Tagalog rap performed by local emcees, some veteran and some up-and-coming. Arbie's beats sound smooth and refined, almost like 70s soul with a hip hop snap.

He explains that United Freestyles 3 is the third edition of his famed United Freestyles series, the first which was a rough and rugged "one take" freestyle cipher with thirty emcees. This fabled album, recorded at the height of Philippine hip hop in 1999, was followed by the second edition in 2005, which received the First Annual Philippine Hip Hop Music Award album of the year. (Click here to hear "Taken In" from this album).

In a music-oriented nation with an array of genres, DJ Arbie Won's particular hip hop taste is shared by many Filipino music fans. As seen by the collection of emcees featured in the United Freestyles series and the growing independent hip hop scene in the Philippines, hip hop culture boasts fierce creative circles, where both original Pilipino hip hop and state-side knocks are celebrated. 

Groove Blocked

But according to some DJs, this type of music would probably not be heard in typical Metro Manila dance clubs.

"People are close-minded with music here," DJ Thea says. She believes many club promoters misunderstand hip hop, usually dismissing it as "yelling music." This negative attitude towards hip hop by promoters is reflective of the treatment of hip hop on a larger (national) scale.
Thea (aka DJ Teaze), who is credited with being the "first Filipina hip hop DJ," is a resident DJ for the Metro's biggest clubs such as Republiq and Prive and shares some of Arbie Won's musical hip hop preference. Hailing from Baguio, which was founded as an American city and celebrated its centennial in 2009, Thea attended an international school. She would receive state-side hip hop music from her black and white American friends who made frequent trips to the States.

Even though she is a sought-after club DJ, the type of music at clubs she spins for are at odds with her musical upbringing. "Promoters prefer 'open-format' music," she explains as we chat at a cafe. "Open-format" is a generic term used to describe a mash-up of house and popular American radio music. "They want music that's above 128 beats per minute," Thea points out.   

Hip hop, as "slower" music, seems to have no home in the Metro's clubbing scene. "Knowledge of hip hop has nothing to do with professional DJing in clubs," she says. Thea, who associates hip hop's sound to a jazz tradition, mentions that in some clubs if there is "too much dancing," then the bouncers will kick you out.  I saw this practice for myself at Republiq a few years ago. When party-goers get into a groove and gain attention, the bouncers will intervene.

As a resident DJ of Prince of Jaipur club from 2005-2008, she witnessed the rise of the so-called "era of the superclubs." The infamous Embassy superclub, located next to Jaipur, opened in 2005. "I played hip hop and people had fun. There was no dress code and we had a faithful following of hip hop fans and dancers."

But when Jaipur began to emulate Embassy in 2008 by instilling a dress code and a "superclub feel," the regular Jaipur clientele stopped going. "Some people were blocked because they were wearing 'hip hop clothes,'" Thea remarks. "Dancing for fun stopped."

DJ Thea (aka DJ Teaze) chatting at a cafe

Despite the seeming twilight of the kind of hip hop Thea and her Jaipur audience enjoy, DJ Jena, Thea's "4X2" turntablism partner, has a more optimistic vision of hip hop's trajectory in the Philippines. The duo, who perform beat juggling on four turntables, has toured in Singapore and Qatar for sold out audiences.
"I'm not exactly against it," Jena says about superclubs' peculiar musical choices.  "I like making money. And I love seeing people have a good-ass time. Are superclubs and hip hop in direct opposition? No. Are superclubs and that old golden era of hip hop in direct opposition? Yes. It is what it is."

Sure, the "golden era of hip hop" (which could either mean state-side jams or original Pilipino hip hop that had its hayday and payday in the 1990s for Filipino artists seeking mainstream deals) is a thing of the past, but does that mean Philippine party-goers have abandoned it forever in exchange for "open-format?" As I have written in a prior entry, some hip hop advocates in the Philippines believe right now is the "golden era of hip hop" in the Philippines because of the enormity of creative production happening today.
But, as the DJs will tell you, you won't hear anything "golden" in the club.  But that might be ok. "Hip hop music might not sound exactly the same as it did in the past. But it does sound new. I like new," Jena admits. 

Playlist Operators?

Certainly, the music has changed since the 1990s, but how much control do DJs have in shaping the reception of new music, especially when much of the music being produced by Philippine artists are not even getting much love by Filipinos? If "open-format" cannot accommodate hip hop (at least at this point), even more does it fail to promote original Pilipino hip hop.

Philippine DJs are in a constant struggle to be a part of this changing musical soundscape, which does not always sound the way they'd like. But they spin anyway. And as fans first, their profession is rooted in a passion for hip hop.

DJ Arbie Won's moniker "The Beat Traveler" serves him well.  His musical journey began in 1991 in San Francisco where he used to carry crates for his uncle's mobile DJ business.  He moved to Manila a few years later and brought all his records. Because he owned the latest music, he would make mixtapes for artists who were interlocked with the brewing Philippine hip hop scene. Soon enough, he was invited to join the hip hop crew Urban Flow, got signed to a label, and things took off from there.

DJ Jena on deck at B-Side. Photo credit: B-Side

DJ Jena's journey was similar. Of a younger generation, Jena grew up in the Los Angeles and Seattle where she immersed herself with hip hop. She became a DJ after attending college in Manila. Now she has become a staple in the sonic world of the Metro. 

Without a "state-side" background, as mentioned earlier DJ Thea was exposed to hip hop via her American friends in Baguio. After moving to the Metro in 1999 and before becoming a professional DJ, she performed as a "hype" dancer at clubs with a crew of girls, some of who would eventually become members of the world champion Philippine All Stars hip hop dance group. Starting off as a dancer prepped her ears for playing good dance music. Today, she is a member of the Styles Team, a group of DJs and emcees (or more accurately hype men) hired to rock parties across the Metro.

Love of hip hop for these DJs was born and bred in various ways, and they have different views about the current state of hip hop. But their strategies of inserting hip hop into a "open-format" Philippine party scenes are similar.  

Arbie Won, who also spins at big clubs, sometimes sneaks in two or three hip hop songs, a risky move he thinks few DJs attempt because of the unsure reaction of the crowd and the promoters. Thea plays this subversive game as well, often playing tried and true hip hop anthems at the end of the night (think Arrested Development, SWV, Tribe Called Quest, Naughty By Nature, etc.) when the crowd is thinner, the people are drunk, and a few hip hop fans stick around. 

Their professional expertise as musical performers is called into question in the era of superclubs.  According to Thea, DJs are often treated as employees--not as creative performers--who are paid to play what people want, like someone who operates a playlist from an iPod.

Arbie, Thea, and Jena spin at Boom Bap Friday at B-Side, where hip hop is loved and promoted in The Metro

Arbie Won has a more hopeful outlook at the state of hip hop at clubs. Aside from the occasional "sneaking in" of hip hop in the bigger clubs, he plays hip hop at smaller venues, such as Alfonso's in Ortigas or at the Distillery in Makati, that cater to a niche audience. "I can play hip hop not for a big crowd like at superclubs, but for sixty people who allow you to take them on a journey."

Will a Philippine party crowd in 2012 allow a hip hop DJ to be the captain of their party?
In a country that for the most part tends to disparage hip hop, the hip hop DJ continues to confront an uphill challenge. Arbie laments, “It's sad because Philippines should be leading in hip hop. Other countries support their artists. It’s not about money so much as ignorance of record industry and promoters.”

The Philippine Difference

Regardless of an unreceptive clubbing audience, Philippine DJs and artists are spinning and creating hip hop in their own ways, and with small but passionate hip hop circles there's no sign of it slowing down.

Given the more frequent appearances of Philippine hip hop artists on daytime shows and in marketing campaigns, it may not be a question of if hip hop will become embraced by the mainstream Philippine populace, but how mainstream Philippine hip hop will sound/look like.  Will it be "indigenized" and sound more "foreign" than the American-style of hip hop cherished by many hip hop enthusiasts? Or will it sound like the hip hop of Arbie Won's United Freestyles series? Or will it be a balance of both sensibilities?

Whatever the case, the Filipino/a hip hop DJ plays a key role in popularizing and celebrating the rise of Philippine hip hop. On the crowded dance floor, the DJ has a special opportunity to be the captain, and accompany Philippine hip hop on its journey.

Special thanks: Thea, Arbie, Jena, Chesca, Justin Breathes, Jerome Smooth, Leo, Teishan, and Vince.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gunshot Sounds of Seattle: Prometheus Brown's "May Day"

Asked to write a Seattle Times guest column in response to last month's deadly shooting spree in Seattle's University District, Blue Scholar's Prometheus Brown wrote a song instead.  He wrote "May Day" to address the less-acknowledged and more pervasive violence in the city. (Lyrics and media below)

A media spectacle erupted around the May shootings in a city that, according to a ABC news clip, "prides itself as one of the safest big cities in America."

Stirring a firestorm of internet controversy, Pro Brown's "May Day" attempts to debunk the myth of Seattle's"safe" reputation. Do we really know whats going on in "grimier environments," where shootings and other acts of violence happen frequently?

Aftermath of the May shooting spree

Pro Brown's song is dense with layers of references and images (Spike Lee's provocative 1989 movie "Do the Right Thing" reveals Brown's generational sensibilities), but is clear in its indictment of popular media's tendency to sensationalize violence in so-called "safe" urban areas, when violence in the hood is often left ignored. It seems there exists a double standard: some lives are worth more than others.

Pro Brown doesn't valorize the hood or champion its condition.  Instead, "May Day" laments the situation that folks have no choice but to live in and criticizes the expectations made by city officials and commentators that marginalized people must "act right" as "proper citizens" in order to be fully enfranchised. Brown says, "They saying that you gotta act right if you wanna have rights, but what if you were born into a wrong situation?"

Sadly, violence has become normalized in certain parts of town. "It’s something that’s been happening for a long time in the south end." Certainly bounded within the geography of Seattle's metropolis, the song illustrates that the south end is not fully enfranchised. Sure, there is "panic" in Seattle, but there is also an indifference to people's lives in abject areas. Perhaps the disavowal of the conditions of the latter is necessary in creating the mythology and materiality of a "safe" Seattle.

Prometheus also alludes to the danger impacting Philippine journalists who for some time have been "disappeared" due to their investigations of the Philippine military and government.  He urges us to see the links between the dangers confronted by ordinary citizens in the lesser-respected parts of town and that of Philippine journalists who testify to injustices. Both bear witness, and both are vulnerable to death due to state-complied violence.

What happens when our collective consciousness normalizes violence, especially when it is targeted toward groups that are stripped of voice?

How long does it take for our collective consciousness to "wake up" from the numbness, indifference, or ignorance we have towards the chronic premature death of black and brown people?  How many more Trayvon Martins or South Side Chicago shootings?

Prometheus does not claim to have the answers, but he says "neither does a person who practices double standards." 

"May Day" is concise, smart, subversive, and should prompt us to rethink what is being normalized and provoke us to change those grievous conditions.

Never heard of this, city getting murderous —
occupation dangerous like Philippine journalists.
Crazy and deranged they describe him in the same pages
that would call him terrorist, if not for the melanin deficiency.

Gang problem bigger than just juvenile delinquency.
Gangs is survival if environments is grimy.
To begin with — speaking of which, let’s be consistent —
Today is called a tragedy, yesterday a statistic.

I’m listening, before I ever speak upon insisting.
My name is young Prometheus and this is my opinion:
Watch “The Interrupters,” see ordinary civilians
can police themselves before they have to call police for help.

At least a little space to breathe, if you believe all violence
is abhorrent to your being, then why you oversee it?
If the killer wears a uniform but if the killer’s me,
it’s normal if the victim also looks like me.

Shots fired in the south end, nobody cares.
Shots fired in the north end, everybody scared.
Nothing they can do for us that we can’t do ourselves.
Point the finger at the mirror instead of somebody else.

Shots fired in the parking lot, nobody cares.
Shots fired in the coffee shop, everybody scared.
Nothing they can do for us that we can’t do ourselves.
Point the finger at the mirror instead of somebody else.

Can’t lie, I know the music can be influential,
but not as influential as desperation. They saying
that you gotta act right if you wanna have rights,
but what if you were born into a wrong situation?

Moral relativity — that passive aggressive city stuff —
becoming history quicker than you can blink at me.
Rule 1: Protect yourself at all times.
Rule 2: Always end but never start a fight.

Came up in the era of the hand-to-hand scrapping
‘til the drugs happened, now it’s bloodshed at transactions.
I’m calling time out like Samuel L. Jackson
playing DJ Love Daddy with the African medallion.

Tryin’a do the right thing. I don’t have the answers,
but neither does a person who practices double standards.
If every death’s a tragedy then join us when we’re chanting,
and not just when we’re singing and dancing. Too many

shots fired in the south end, nobody cares.
Shots fired in the north end, everybody scared.
Nothing they can do for us that we can’t do ourselves.
Point the finger at the mirror instead of somebody else.

Shots fired in the parking lot, nobody cares.
Shots fired in the coffee shop, everybody scared.
Nothing they can do for us that we can’t do ourselves.
Point the finger at the mirror instead of somebody else.

Prometheus Brown, also known as George Quibuyen, lives in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

FlipTop flowin the dough in: The sponsorship era?

Si Kuya Guard knows wussup.
Our FlipTop favorites Batas, Loonie, and Abra are at it again, this time in a heated battle with the legendary Pinoy rock group Parokyo Ni Edgar. Everyone knows its bout to be on, especially Mr. Guard in the back nodding his head (ha!). 

This TM Tambayan ad is nicely shot and pretty satirical. FlipTop and its stars are now gaining sponsorship. In the ad, these rap acts are visually parallel to the more widely-accepted, "safe," and recognizable rock group Parokyo Ni Edgar. The money is beginning to flow for the once underdog, underground, little-known FlipTop hip hop scene.  Will it only get bigger?


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Return of the Fil Am: MastaPlann x Bambu

Via The Hip Hop in Her.

The connection between veteran Philippine hip hop group MastaPlann and Bambu, one of the hottest emcees in the nation right now, are alone worth highlighting. But even more, they are taking their unique link as Filipino American pioneers in hip hop to the Philippines in their "Homecoming" event in April.  MastaPlann, a group of Filipino American artists from California who made a lucrative career in the Philippines in the 1990s, are usually credited for bringing a certain aesthetic and style to the Philippines that had forever changed the Philippine hip hop landscape.  Bambu, who states "MastaPlann raised Bam" in the MastaPlann x Bambu collaborative song "Benefit," started in the early 2000s with a faithful following of Filipino American activista-types and has since rose in meteoric status to reach a broad, diverse, and nationwide (and worldwide) audience, while staying true to his message.

They come together at B-Side in Makati in Metro Manila in April to celebrate their links. Philippines and Fil Ams crossover! We send positive energy and good vibes to this intergenerational and international event.

Notably, Tracer One of MastaPlann, his son, and fellow member Type Slickk are featured in the 2009 Bambu music video "Crooks and Rooks."  Can you spot them?  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Joe Bataan homecoming at Malasimbo Festival in Philippines

From the tough streets of Spanish Harlem to the swaying palm trees of the Philippines, Joe Bataan "returned" to the homeland for the first time to perform for his Filipino people at the Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival in Mindoro earlier this Month.  Hope you had a memorable and meaningful homecoming, Joe.  We appreciate your artistry and message in spreading Filipino hospitality and togetherness everywhere you go!

For more on Joe Bataan, watch this video.


Monday, March 5, 2012

RIP Francis M

It's been exactly three years since the untimely passing of the great Francis M.  Yet, Philippine hip hop is still growing and transforming year by year.  Rest in Power, King.  The Philippine music scene is indebted to you.

Picture taken by Ryan Andres
Picture taken by Francis Magalona, recently released by Syke


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A stranger unto ourselves (and others): Know your history!

"...They took over hip hop dancing."
Deon Cole: "Oh, that hurts."
"Linsanity" has reached FilAm Funk. And its also reaching the late night talk show circuits. In an episode of Conan, show writer Deon Cole makes a satirical commentary on Jeremy Lin's dominance: "I'm nervous because I don't want Asians taking over basketball."

As if Jeremy Lin poses a real threat to the "racial ownership" of the NBA. Too funny.

Cole continues, "Like, they took over hip hop dancing. Oh, that hurts."  A picture of Asian males dancing in what looks like the World Hip Hop Dance Championship flashes on the screen.

Cole's anxiety might reflect a real (but ridiculous) fear. But his commentary also elicits a very real need of the Asian American and Filipino American community to know our history. Especially with hip hop, we have already seen this episode of "invasion" before, like in the LA Weekly article on the "invasion" of Filipinos in the Hollywood club scene. 

 Slide from my "Bearing Witness to the Funk" presentation at CSUN
I recently presented on the role of hip hop within the Filipino American (and global Filipino) community at a conference. I emphasized the fact that Filipino Americans have been embedded in and contributors to hip hop culture for such a long time, and that in theory, Fil Am students in college today can have a hip hop parents. And this has been the case for some students. Yeah, old school.

What is surprising, unfortunately, is that many (near 100%) of Fil Am students I have encountered do not know the history of Kaba Modern, the Invisbl Skratch Piklz, the Beat Junkies, Mike Dream, etc. Sadly, many do not even know who Native Guns and Blue Scholars are. Yet, many veteran Fil Am performers are coming out of the woodwork and telling their stories about "back in the day"--before hip hop was called hip hop.

During the conference, I provoked the question: For Filipino Americans, can hip hop be "trad" instead of "fad?"

Given hip hop's deep immersion within Filipino American culture, can it be just as "traditional" (if not more) than the "trad" dances of PCN--which are really liberal interpretations (of interpretations) of so-called Filipino dances?

My post "Grab the mic like I'm on Soul Train" and the OC Weekly article on Kaba Modern attempt to synthesize the history of hip hop dance among Filipino Americans in Southern California, and its direct impact on hip hop dance internationally. If one delves into the history of hip hop dance, you might discover that Asians aren't necessarily "taking over hip hop dancing," as Cole dryly comments, but they have actually been (Filipino Americans at least) the creative minds of the craft for some time now.   
So, as Asian Americans like our brother Jeremy Lin continue to gain more recognition and "voice," naturally, let us be proud and encouraging. But it is also critical that we know our own histories, so that when representations of Asian Americans (like in Cole's skit) poke fun at our "invasion," we can feel comfortable that the "truth" is less shocking.

If we are always a stranger unto ourselves, we will always be a stranger unto others. And that is where the real "hurt" resides.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Grab the mic like I'm on Soul Train"

Don Cornelius, founder and host of Soul Train
With the news of the untimely passing of Don Cornelius, the founder and long-time host of Soul Train, the world gasped in sadness and shock. As a pioneer who is credited with bringing African American dance and music to the visual consciousness of the nation, Cornelius featured the biggest, baddest RandB, soul, disco, rock, funk, and hip hop acts on Soul Train, which aired from 1971 to 2006.

Dance styles that are staple in street dance circuits today--like popping, locking, and waacking--were often given their first chance to shine nationally on the Soul Train stage. This is certainly the case for Don Campbell and the Campbellockers.

As Asian American street (aka hip hop) dance crews continue to flourish around college campuses, we can say that the Soul Train stage first gave "breath" to the styles that we know and love. What is seen as "hip" and "cool" has a long legacy. In this case, the legacy is foregrounded by a push by Cornelius for more representation of African American creativity and "soul," which wasn't given light on television prior to the inauguration of Soul Train.   

Michael Jackson performing The Robot, which he learned from Soul Train dancers.

Today, Asian Americans and non-Asian Americans alike are advancing an alternative embodiment--a "cool" representation--through the kinetic language of street dance. And their getting noticed.

But, as "Americanized" subjects of U.S. colonialism, Filipinos have always been engaged with American dance culture since military occupation around 1900. In the diaspora, they have been American dance culture's most loyal adherents, as seen by male Filipino taxi dance hall performers in the pre-WWII era, the creation of Kaba Modern in 1992, and the dance crews that are thriving today (with a special shout out to the exploding dance crew scene in the Philippines).

In a recent Orange County Weekly article, Kaba Modern founder Arnel Calvario testifies about the hip hop dance scene among Filipino Americans in Los Angeles in the late 1980s/early 1990s. During a time when hip hop was not widely accepted among members of the Filipino American community as a "Filipino thing," Calvario and other Fil Am hip hop performers (like Funki Junction, as written by Cheryl Cambay in Empire of Funk) had to carve their own avenues of hip hop expression. The article explains:  

"Calvario, a freshman [at the University of California, Irvine] at the time, wanted to use the event [Pilipino Culture Night] to showcase the full Filipino-American experience, his experience, through the style of dance he loved most.

'I went up to the [club] president and said, 'Since it's Pilipino-American Culture Night and so many Filipino Americans do hip-hop, shouldn't we include our current styles as well as our historical, cultural styles?' he recalls.'"

Thus, Kaba Modern was born out of Pilipino Culture Night, which itself has acted as a promotional stage of Filipino representation. Hip hop has since been a necessary "suite" in the many suites of Filipino culture showcased in the PCNs (and Barrios Fiestas, on the East Coast). 

When hip hop became more popular in the mid 1980s, Don Cornelius didn't understand the rebellious cultural genre either. But as a shrewd businessman and so-called representative of African American popular culture, he gave hip hop a shot on his show. Like Filipino American "ethnic absolutists," Cornelius eventually learned to accept hip hop even though he didn't like it. Hip hop's historical march forward was unstoppable, and existing cultural institutions had to deal with it. 
Baby-faced Public Enemy on Soul Train
Don Cornelius does not get it, in an awkward interview with Chuck D and Flava Flav
Bboys on Soul Train

Since the days of America's Best Dance Crew, street dance has not only increased in popularity among Asian Americans but also among the broader general public. But we must keep in mind that Soul Train provided a crucial venue for dancers more than 35 years prior to MTV's "discovery" of the styles. Now, street dance has been a stage--complete with a mic--for many young Asian Americans who are finding a "voice."

Street dance would not be the same without Soul Train. Certainly, the Filipino American/Asian American choreographed dance scene is indebted to Don Cornelius's legacy. Like Cornelius's vision of giving more representation to African American "soul" on TV, Asian American street dancers on TV are grabbing the mic (an ode to Rakim) like their on Soul Train.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Keep the Bells Ringin! Rock the School Bells 2012

Rock the School Bells is back!  On March 24th, 2012 at Skyline College in San Bruno, CA, the alternative educational conference and concert returns for another round of workshops, performances, and forums.  Last year we at Fil Am Funk presented on documentary filmmaking.  Will the Funk be present again this year?  We shall see.

RTSB organizer and emcee Nate Nevado continues with his firm belief in the power and praxis of hip hop in our communities.  Sometimes traditional schooling has failed us.  For many of us, hip hop has been there to fill the void.  But an event like RTSB that champions the educational utility of hip hop does not come free.

Let's help Nate and the good folks at RTSB make the event happen.  Their IndieGoGo online fundraising campaign is in full swing, having raised to date over $1,000 of the  $15,000 goal.  You can help them reach their goal by February 15th.   

Keep the bells ringin!

What is Rock The School Bells?

Rock The School Bells (RTSB) is a hip-hop educational youth conference based in the San Francisco Bay Area. It includes a comprehensive blend of workshops and performances that enhance students' ability to:
  • think critically about current issues in their communities as well as in the world
  • read and write about topics related to their life's experiences
  • display effective oral and written communication through readings, spoken word and poetry
  • understand the historical and cultural aspects of hip-hop and its effect on society, education and personal development

These workshops integrate the four key elements of hip-hop: b-boying (breakdancing), graffiti art, DJing (turntablism) and emceeing.

Some of RTSB's past workshops have covered topics such as:
  • Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship
  • DJ Fundamentals
  • Hip-Hop and Social Justice
  • B-Girl It's Your World
  • Weapons of Mass Promotions

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Watch Global Pinay Style

Global Pinay Style documents the rich hip hop dance scene that Filipinas are creating in the Philippines and these dancers' creative influences around the world. Focusing on members of the Philippine All Stars and Stellar, the film shows how Pinays are carving out spaces for a vibrant dance subculture and proving their skills for a global audience.

Welcome to 2012! It's been a year-and-a-half since making Global Pinay Style.  As the women in the film will  attest, so much has happened within that time period: more championships won, more world tours, more music, more albums, the opening of Capital G Shop in Robinson's Galleria where young (and older) people can learn dance moves, and many more updates!  

I hope 2012 has much more in store for Pin@y dancers, musicians, artists, and performers all across the globe!! It's just the beginning.