Plug: Rappers Without Borders is a community at UBC that loves hip hop and creates space where hip hop is celebrated. To root ourselves in cause, we raise donations for MSF (Doctors without Borders). As a club, we often just hang out, talk, and let freestyles happen (Freestyle Fridays). We also have cypher recording sessions and a monthly hip hop night at The Pit.
What’s interesting about me being the president of RWB is that I used to dislike hip hop back in high school. It’s more of the fact that I wasn’t exposed to it, but I generally accepted English teacher’s making fun of rap music as c-rap music. But in the second year of my university, my friend from my jazz combo invited me out to Freestyle Friday.
And it was there that I fell in love with hip hop.
There is something incredible about witnessing a freestyle. You may have seen some impressive feats from YouTube, but when you see it happen right in front of your eyes, as the rhymes reference the environment around you, and it react to your reactions, it becomes this powerful energy. Even just by being an audience, this energy is reverberated and connects everyone in the earshot.
It is sometimes easier to drive self-expressions to a rhythm. When the music is playing, you simply let go and share. And when we listen to each other’s words, there is real intimacy through this understanding.
The hip hop community is one of the first places where I felt a lack of diversion. It’s hard to describe but something was different. Differences weren’t concealed or highlighted, but simply understood.
Hip hop, as I understand it, is a culture that embraces diversity. Historically, it came out of a place of systematic oppression and racial prejudice against the black people. Hip hop was a counter-cultural, non-violent alternative to the youth who felt angry and hopeless. So since its beginnings, it has been a platform for the minority and the oppressed to voice themselves. It is the spirit of building something for yourself or for your community. This is why I embrace the hip hop community.
Image is from Rappers Without Borders