HIP HOP PHILOSOPHY
HIP HOP PHILOSOPHY was the second chapter of C.R.I.S.I. composed by three parts: EDUCATIONAL, COLLECTIVE NARRATION and MEDIA. It was developed together with four collective initiatives: COORDINAMENTO MIGRANTI and their Hip Hop Lab ON THE MOVE in which young’s who are still studying at the high school meets in weekly journeys of collective creation, improvising free-style, mixing life experiences with amazing rhythms and intense poetics lyrics. The documentation was produced by TELEIMMAGINI an independent media-activists collective working in the in Bologna since 2000. They develop practices for socializing the communication from the bottom through the sharing of resources and technological knowledge. A key person for this chapter is the MC Manuel Kyodo Simoncini one of the most active figures in bologna contemporary hip-hop. He has been supporting and stimulating the new generations as school professor and through his workshops and laboratories (from where we took the title of this second chapter).
As part of this project was produced the album entitled C.R.I.S.I with songs and beats composed by On The Move.
If you want the album and support the initiative click here
MEGLIO IUS SOLI CHE MALE ACCOMPAGNATI
Coordinamento migranti Bologna was created in 2004. Migrants and Italians, women and men, form a political collective that rejects the Bossi-Fini law, as well as the European regulations that, thanks to the link between residence and employment contract, make a specific migrant workforce destined to be exploited or expelled according to the needs of the market. The “Bossi-Fini” law is not only an immigration law but also a lever for the casualization of labor and the exploitation of migrants.
We affirm the political role of migrants in their struggle against the policies of job insecurity. We believe that the leadership of migrants – both women and men – is a priority for all, representing a policy against job insecurity. We, migrants and Italians, fight all forms of racism, both everyday and institutionally, which emerge in many of the regulations that make difficult, if not impossible, to access public and social services that are mainly conceived for Italians, leading to a situation in which migrants are materially excluded and left without access to basic social services and programs. We have always been establishing transnational connections with migrant struggles in European and extra-European countries, because we recognize that the violation of boundaries by the migrants is the first and most important form of globalization. The people of Coordinamento migranti are opposed to any form of administrative detention of migrants in Europe and outside Europe. We claim the full freedom of movement for every man and woman who decides to build a different future.
Out of the experience of Coordinamento migranti in 2007 we formulated On The Move lab, which included boys who were both children of migrants and Italians. Labeled as “second generation,” the children of migrants are often at the center of the debates that concern the redefinition of the concept of citizenship. Yet, despite the thousands of proclamations, the lives of thousands of children continue to be linked to the “Bossi-Fini” law. In our case, one’s 18th birthday is not a cause for celebration, rather it’s the opposite, and after reaching the legal age in order to remain in Italy, the boys must find a job to get permission to stay, otherwise they could become illegal and face deportation to their parents home town. This situation is difficult also because these practices for obtaining a residency permit, also for study, are normally reserved for those who can prove they have sufficient income to continue their education. However, these problems are very often silenced and in many cases even those directly involved rarely know the full affects of the Bossi-Fini law. Others, however, are fully aware of the extent to which even the choice of education has been changed by the law. Most of the migrants’ children, in fact, choose technical and vocational schools because they offer a work placement; thereby enabling them to receive a residency permit in order to stay in Italy.
That said, we must not think that migrants and their children passively accept institutional racism. For many years they have spoken out as protagonists fighting for the abolition of the “Bossi-Fini” law. The experience of the workshop On The Move is emblematic of this idea: both Italians and children of migrants have taken to the floor together, using hip-hop, sports and politics. Rejecting the label of second generation, “because we are second to none”, the Workshop On The Move has emphasized the desire to foster leaders who determine their own future. Using hip-hop music and sports the laboratory On The Move has sought to foster channels of communication that allow a space for their thoughts, stories and narratives to unfold. In the weekly laboratory, which is active every Tuesday in the public space of XM24, “native boys” and “children of migrants” use music and the hip-hop culture to remove these labels in order to build
a collective future: a future of differences but not of inequalities. Therefore, every year we also organize a street basketball tournament on Piazza dell’Unità, a moment of social and healthy competition to show that the match against racism is not over yet. We must stand united against all forms of institutional racism – and this is at the very heart of On the Move! The slogan this year was ” meglio ius soli che male accompagnati ” with a joke to reiterate our position.
FILOSOFIA HIP HOP
by Manuel Kyodo Simoncini
Hip hop is a culture comprised of four central disciplines (MCing, DJing, B-Boying and writing) and involves many other related practices such as Beatboxing and Beatmaking. This movement’s inclusion of diverse artistic forms – writing, improvisatory rhymes or “freestyling,” the use of the turntable, the production of backing tracks, dance and graffiti – allows those who participate to utilize various modes of expression. Its creative range has given it a way to regenerate and survive for more than thirty years, often changing form, without ever losing its original identity. The hip hop movement has a global presence and has greatly contributed to the overcoming of racial and cultural barriers; acting as a catalyst for practitioners to become aware of their roots and social contexts. A key factor was a collation that allowed the enrichment of a common cultural background, far away from the uniformity that gradually leaves any historical identity behind. With the passing of time, the situation is complicated, however, and hip hop has also given rise to stylistic approaches which are as bombastic as they are negative. The same force which has a current born out of the intention to unify, distinguish and develop can clearly have the same potential to divide, conform and destroy. We can observe this phenomenon even more clearly in the political and religious sphere. For this reason it seems necessary, to me, to have clarity with regards to cultural and educational interventions
regarding the world of entertainment.
For some years now, I’ve proposed MC workshops in schools, youth centers and neighborhoods with the intention to explain to young generations the original meaning of this culture – looking to get out from the classic stereotypes that you can too often find in this domain. The art of the MC is rap; it is a means of externalizing which very immediate and accessible to all, allows the attainment of modest results within a short time and gives an organization to our own language and our logical reasoning. It inspires the need to learn, to enrich our own cultural backgrounds, to acquire the largest possible vocabulary. It’s a great way to interpret our own emotions. Unquestionably, art – in search of an outlet – leads to self-knowledge.
Activities are typically organized as follows:
– Explanation of the movement’s path from the 1970s to today (in America, Italy, and Bologna) to understand its role in contemporary history.
– Practice exercises in rhyme improvisation (freestyle) and more games on rhetorical forms
– Lessons on writing, on the metrical, rhythmic and musical aspects in relation to the practical realization of a song.
– Opportunities for discussion on the theme of the song and art in general.
– The use of audio and video material to go in depth on selected issues.
– The presence of guests specialized in other disciplines (DJing, B-Boying, writing, beatboxing, beatmaking, etc.)
– When the song is complete it is recorded and mixed.
– Preparation for the live concert which takes place at a celebration at the end of the course.
– Eventually, we screen the video clip of the song made during the course
Since the beginning and the end are always the most difficult parts to write, this time I would like to start from the assumption that the words COMMUNITY and COMMUNICATION come from the same linguistic root. Communication is one of the foundations on which the community rests and it is essential to the participation of each individual in the context of ordinary life. It may seem trivial, but now that interpersonal relationships are profoundly changing, it is our duty to not be blindly carried away by the events which surround us. Thanks to new technologies, you can interact in real time on a global level by simplifying operations and shortening the response time for each request, you can create new forms of information, promotions, sales blah, blah, blah … We already know, don’t we?
We also know that people are moving away from each other and relationships are colder and colder. Town squares are empty, the streets are crowded with people who are alone. Families crumble more easily than before, and our children chat from one room to another without being able to look each other in the eyes. We live zapping and on average we are unable to concentrate for more than three minutes on any activity.
We also know that a relationship is not composed only of words and images, but also silences, perfumes, hugs, slaps, handshakes, impressions, allusions, cries …
EXPERIENCES and SITUATIONS.
Experiences are inner treasures. Situations are the result of our projections … They surround us and give us the opportunity to expand our horizons … to each, according to ability. Communication allows us to see the sphere from different angles, to put ourselves in the shoes of others, to grow with the people around us, blah, blah, blah … We also know that. But I wonder what it is when when it comes to this KNOWLEDGE …
There are various levels of knowledge. The more relationships are volatile the more the social fabric gets torn, more experiences will
indirectly be less we really know. Storing large amounts of self-contained pieces of data and waiting to confuse them and forget them – I do not think this is knowledge. To know, you must least understand. It is from the taste of experiences that understandings arise. My impression is that insights are related to the touch. We can not understand without understanding each other. Understanding each other is placing us above our selves. To accept who we are beyond the ideas that we have of ourselves, to become aware of how we operate. Blah, blah, blah… Concentration is already surrendering …The fact is that it takes a lot of courage to strip ourselves of all the stereotypes, the armors, the identifications. Why? Because they’re defenses. Man lives in fear and struggles to accept giving up his masks. The more he identifies with them the more he will perceive a sense of death when he has to abandon them and man is afraid of death as much as he is afraid of the new. To relate to others he must question himself, and the fear of learning is the fear of abandoning the old comfortable self. The fear of the new is fear of the dark. It’s easier to assert our role than see ourselves for what we are. These are two very different ways of making art. I want to be naked … Really. Surely you’re wondering where I’m going with this … What the connection is between what I’m saying and the MC …
As an MC, I am a broadcaster, since one of my main tasks is to communicate. Hip hop is the channel; the means by which I express myself according to the codes of this culture.
It is a way to send messages, talk about ourselves, discuss, outdo, learn, share, have fun – but obviously it is a double-edged sword: It can become an excuse to conform, clash, stress, stereotype, pretend, envy, etc … It‘s very easy that movements deteriorate with the passing of time. The more you move away from the source, the murkier the water will be. For this reason, we have a big responsibility to carry and pass the torch. For as strange as it seems to me, I am also a teacher, although not an academic. I think it’s a matter of calling and the calling depends on the demand. The one who feels the need is the one that expresses himself. If we identify with the most disparate characters we’ll lose contact with ourselves and, at that point, who will speak up? The child of blind desire and fear. The result of the mechanical. Who is unable to listen is not receptive and is not fit to teach any living thing.
I grew up in a society where everybody looks to impose their way of thinking on others because they believe they’re in the right. If there’s one thing that worries me, it’s this idea of justice that legitimizes stifling free enterprise. The most effective way to teach is by example, so if you shout while you’re teaching education to a child, you will teach him nothing but an angry abuse of power by people that can not control themselves. In my opinion, a teacher has to put his students in conditions to serenely expand their own potential.
To be clear … I’m not against discipline. It has its place. I’m just saying that repression and this mechanical way of teaching based on imitation produce fear, boredom, strings for puppets, desires, performance anxiety … until you get to a categorical refusal by the
students. You have to stimulate interest, enthusiasm, and receptivity in order for discipline to become the result of a direct rise of awareness and of a logical and conscious analysis.
Of course we need order. To achieve it we need rigor, but what is rigor without understanding? What is order without love? What is discipline without personal freedom and the chance to be wrong? How can a person without interests learn discipline? Does repression foster interests? I do not think so. In my opinion, order must be the result of harmony and voluntary participation. Is giving orders the right way to bring order? Can constraint create harmony and participation? At best, it generates resignation and rebellion.
On the contrary, how is it possible to learn to understand without being rigorous in our own way? How can we educate ourselves without being disciplined? How can we be free without being responsible? How can we be free without knowing what we want, why we want it and what we really need? I think the WILL is a focal point. How can a person be free if he has no will? Does repression create will?
I don’t think so. Repression creates submission. How interested is an individual that is not receptive? How receptive is a person that is not interested? It takes concentration. All of this is impossible without any will. Desire and will are two different things. Desire must be conscious to be defined as such, and consciousness is a function of being. Consciousness is presence. Desire creates a sort of will that, really, I don’t know how to define it, but I don’t think it deserves this name. Who can be called free who is prey to his desires? At most, he can be satisfied … until the return of the great void. Sorry, but I have always loved mirror effects. I’m fanatic of balance, but on the other hand I could never be a tightrope walker. I have read a little about how to walk on a wire, but I do it every day without expecting
any recognition. I also have a monkey on my back like the rest of you.
What meaning would this crossing have without the possibility of falling? How could I help others to overcome vertigo if I didn’t deal
with the abyss from instant to instant? To conclude this parenthesis, it seems clear to me that it takes a very complete effort on the part of the educator. At the least, you need to develop moderation and the mastery of yourself. You also need to be able to establish contact with the recipient. It’s difficult to put into words … It’s like tuning into the same radio frequency. Then there’s the difference between educating and teaching, even though these two ideas often mingle and travel hand-in-hand. Do not forget that we are working in the interest of others, and thanks to this we learn and from which we benefit, but if are not educated in the first place, we will try to cater to our pride, our arrogance, our ambitions, etc … eventually providing despicable examples while maintaining the conviction of being right …
Obviously, workshops that I manage have a structure. Otherwise, they could not stand. It is a rigid structure that adapts itself to the environment, the situation and the expressive needs of the participants. The workshop path consists of a series of 7 steps: Enthusiasm, Awareness, Organization, Implementation, Operation, Return, Renewal. Each of these phases is discussed both at a collective level (while explaining historical and social aspects) and at a personal level (facing the theoretical, practical and intimate aspects of any aspiring MC).
The “Enthusiasm” phase is connected to work on emotions, improvisation and entertainment. The “Awareness” phase includes work on reasoning, discussing and developing themes. The “Organization” phase is related to harmony, teamwork, writing, live performance preparation, the use of the microphone, the use of the body on the stage. The “Implementation” phase hones skills for the recording of the song. It ‘s a work of interpretation, vocal setting, and proper use of equipment. The “Operation” phase is composed of live performances where participants can connect and compare themselves with people coming from other “Hip Hop philosophy” workshops. The “Return” phase features an objective of the course. This obviously entails the delivery of the material produced during the workshop process. The “Renewal” phase is necessary to start the cycle over again by developing personal initiative.
It takes many hours of work and certain types of conditions to properly investigate every aspect of each step. It is almost always essential to read just the workshop in the working group and I assure you that this is not a bad thing. It’s just a fact. Totally unexpected and interesting developments can often arise from unanticipated events. It’s very important to establish and carry out goals that we set out upon, but it is equally important to readapt them to the conditions that arise. You always have to get somewhere, walking without direction is just a way to pass the time. The experience needs to be fixed at various levels in the memory in order to be helpful.
On the contrary, the goal that we set out initially should not preclude our openness to the unexpected. Usually when you go on a trip, you make some plans. Your mind calculates, programs and ends up hating the reality of the moment when it does not adhere to daydreams … I always try to be a balance.
Manuel Kyodo Simoncini