Breaking Negativity

11/11, 2018 | Prague

An open letter to the breaking community worldwide.

This topic is well-worn by me, but I think the this community needs to take a long, heavy look at our behaviors in battles.

This weekend, I got to experience a ton of dope kids and “juniors” breaking battles here in Prague. I was sad to see that during most of these battles there was a lot of shit talking and rude gesturing, and very little respect and Love. Of course, it is almost always this way an adult battles as well, because they get it from us.

I’ve heard the “but this culture came from…”, “but battles are supposed to be…”, “bbbbut”…

  • Fact: negativity will never spontaneously create positivity; not even when multiplied or divided.

  • Fact: when you talk negatively about someone in a battle, you are putting that person down.

  • Fact: Hip Hop is about lifting people up.

When a kid gets told they are a whack, unoriginal, and off-beat dancer to their face multiple times at every event it leaves a lasting negative impact.

We live in a world where people kill themselves. Regularly. I learned recently that, in Belgium, if you have a family member who commits suicide by jumping in front of a train, there is a legal procedure where you and your family need to pay a large amount of money to compensate for revenue lost from that train… Woah. Why do I bring this up? Because these are serious times we’re living in, and serious changes need to be made. We need to start supporting each other more in battles, regardless of which side we are on.

When you support people, they feel supported. Wow, *head explodes*. Isn’t Hip Hop all about support? Peace, Love, Unity and Having Fun. There’s no asterisk *when not in a battle situation*. Breaking started to END violence, to “get on up”, overcome, get together, have a funky good time.

I’m not saying to drop everything and start blowing up for all of your opponents mediocre rounds at the next jam (like you do for all your cremates), but I am saying we can do better. We can have some integrity during battles, and we can create positive change. We can drop some of the double standards we hold for our opponents, we can lend a smile, a soul clap, and even share the joy of an epic beat kill sometimes. There are THOUSANDS of insanely dope breakers on Earth, and yes, even some who are better than you and your crew. AND, by telling them they are not good you don’t actually get any better. “Well uh, he was off that beat and I told him about it, soo, just move me right up that list to slot 16,364”. Sorry fam, that’s not how it works.

As an experienced dancer, you are a God to the aspiring children of Hip Hop. They want to be you in every way: walk, talk, dress, eat, act, sound, etc. You have a responsibility to pave a positive road forward.

What are you goals?

  • Do you want to be the best? Be the best. If you can’t do that without putting down the dancer across from you, obviously you have a lot of training to do.

  • Do you want to be “real Hip Hop”? Be real Hip Hop. Inspire youth, share Peace & Love, create Unity and have Fun.

  • Do you want to express yourself? Express yourself. But what does yelling at your opponent, telling them how whack that round was, have to do with your personal expression?

  • Do you want to abuse people and hurt their feelings? Perhaps you should get into MMA or work at a haunted house or one of those weird restaurants where you get to verbally abuse diners.

When you watch many of the “successful” breakers in the world, they tend to spend most of their time with their mouths closed, and many of them even give props where props are due. This is the LEAST you can do. If you are afraid enough in a battle to think you have to put your opponent down to “get in their head”, obviously you need to get better at dancing and stop playing reindeer games with your mouth.

If you think this is just the way it has to be for the battle “spectacle/experience”, you lack imagination. Sure, maybe this isn’t the way it’s done in sports, martial arts, Gladiators in ancient Rome, etc. But we are Hip Hop. We are HIGHER Inner Peace, Helping Other People. HIGHER. Not “the same level as” or “just below”. We can set ourselves apart and create something totally new. Where do we start?? There are many dance styles (Locking, House, Krump, Hustle, etc etc) with a much higher propensity for Love vs hate. Sure, you can always find a case where things go South, but there are SO MANY examples of incredible battles and events *ahem* where Love is abundant. Perhaps it’s just time for the walls to come down.

If you have beef with someone, settle that beef in a cypher! That’s the real place to do it anyways: without judges, politics or outside decisions/bias. And sure, on the rare occasion that you get bracketed up against that person in a competition, live your emotions. Be free and don’t fake the funk in either direction.

If you disagree:

Before you begin to argue, please take the time to look deep within yourself and ask the question “why am I defensive about this, and what am I defending?”. Imagine a world where this all came to pass, what would be missing? Now imagine, if you can, that world truly being a better place regardless of your predictions: would you be willing to change your ways for the greater good? If you can’t get there mentally, then you aren’t willing to compromise with your ego for the culture and we can't have a conversation. I’m all about considering the perspectives of those who are likewise willing to consider another way.

I understand that I don’t see ALL of the angles: i’m speaking from my 14 years of breaking experiences. I also understand that I have been as bad as the next person with all of this, and that I still have a long way to go down my own road. But i’m working on it every day.

“Are you ready for the real revolution? Which is the evolution of the mind? … universally, we will stand and divided we will fall, because Love conquers all... This is a call to all you sleepin' souls: wake up! And take control of your own cypher, and be on the lookout for the spirit snipers, tryin' to steal your light”

-Public Enemy