Today, I went on YouTube in search of music because everybody knows the porn on there is no good. It’s a rip off really, but that’s another story. In my search for the good stuff, I found myself clicking on nearly every video by Homeboy Sandman, Dirty Diana and…. Afrika Bambaataa? What can I say, I got carried away. While I was listening to Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” and breaking, popping and dropping; I began to ponder what all the fuss was about? You know, why do people get their knickers in a bunch when hip hop artists decide to make tracks that people can just dance to? After all isn’t (break)dancing a key element of hip hop?
The other elements in case you’ve forgotten are DJing, emceeing and graffiti. Though there have been many additions and alterations to what has become a culture, I believe that we at times tend to forget the basics, and view hip hop from an elitist perspective. Off the bat, people will know what I mean, but for those who don’t, it’s simple: we expect hip hop music to always be logical and sensible, while forgetting the emotional and carefree aspect of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not supporting the nonsensical and demeaning music that’s been tagged as hip hop. What I am supporting however, is the emotional and psychological appeal of hip hop music. The feel good, fat burning movements of the Cabbage Patch, the MC Hammer dance, New Jack Swing, Rump Shaker (although we’ve taken that to a whole different level today), and even the Stanky Legz potentially has a greater effect on your emotional and physical health than lyrics that are meant to be internalized. In response, you may say that one of the biggest concerns in music is that people don’t pay attention to lyrics, and this in turn encourages mediocrity in hip hop, but I believe making hip hop music for dancers isn’t a hindrance to making intellectual music. It’s all about balance.
No one wants to hear Nas talking about the depressing state of the world every day, just like no one wants to hear Christmas carols every day of the year. No one wants to hear Mary J Blige and Keisha Cole sing about their failed relationships and life lessons every day, just like no one wants to hear Wiz Khalifa sing about getting high every minute they turn on the radio. If they do, then that’s really not healthy. It’s important that we give our brains a break and escape from the thought process at some point throughout the day. Why do you think we sleep? The brain needs a break.
If you are in disagreement with my stance, then maybe a look at the effects of dancing can sway you. Dancing is the entire movement of the body in accordance with the rhythm of a song- and sometimes not. It’s a form of aerobic exercise; like a work out but way more enjoyable. So, the first effect is obvious: dancing raises your heart and breathing rate, which consequently increases the level of brain chemicals that encourage nerve cells to grow. According to completewellbeing.com, “dancing that requires you to remember dance steps and sequences boosts brain power by improving memory skills.”
In addition to putting you on the path of health, dancing is a source of stress relief. Whether it’s dancing in your bedroom alone at midnight to energetic club mixes on the radio, or dancing with your friends at a club thinking about how your ass is heading home, one thing is certain: no one has ever complained about being stressed out after dancing up a storm. One reason is the fact that you’re with positive people having a good time, and the another reason is that dancing is a form of nonverbal communication. By using the body as a means to emotionally express oneself, Neenu Khanna, an aerobic “dancercise trainer” for Reebok, states that dancing produces “neurotransmitters such as endorphins, increasing physical feelings of wellbeing, which in turn translate into emotional and mental wellbeing, as well as a reduction in tension…”.
I shouldn’t have to delve into additional benefits (the strengthening of bone and muscle without hurting joints, improvement of posture and balance, an increase in stamina and flexibility, boost in confidence and effective social activity), of dancing. I will just reiterate that hip hop made for dancing shouldn’t be viewed in an obnoxious manner. Every musician serves his or her purpose and creates balance not only to the airwaves but to our minds. There are so many depressing and heart wrenching problems in the world today and music is an effective medium for relaying these stories. Think about the fact that, in addition to your daily personal problems, you’re internalizing the problems of millions of other people through music. Frankly, this is not something I could deal with every hour of the day. I’d go insane! So please pardon me if I just want to take a break from the social commentary and do a lil Harlem Shake with a side of Chicken Noodle Soup once in while.
Now back to Planet Rock.