WJ#9

Writer’s Journal #9 – Generative Writing

Growing up as an Italian-American kid in Italy, questions of belonging and community have always puzzled me. Am I Italian, because I live and grew up in Italy? Or am I American, because that’s what I feel my background is for most aspects? To this day, I have yet to find an answer. I like to think it’s because it’s not that important. At least, for now. But reflecting on the topic of “belonging to a community”, I can surely say I feel I belong to the hip-hop community and have done so for about 15 years now. Hip-hop is more than just the music you can see videos of on TV and YouTube; it’s a culture that comprehends many disciplines like break dancing, graffiti, DJing and beatboxing, and promotes values like peace, love, unity, respect and knowledge.

My first approach wasn’t one to really brag about (I started because a friend of mine listened to Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer, not ideally the most prominent members of the community), but it did introduce me to the community and made me curious to investigate and go deeper. And that’s how I learned about what hip-hop is and what it stands for. To be recognized as a member, you first need to share the values and ideals it promotes, the paramount of which is knowledge. If you know about the history of it and the most prominent members that have contributed to its development, you can start thinking about yourself as a member. If you would like to contribute by rapping, DJing, break dancing or doing graffiti, you need to understand that a certain attitude is expected of you: one of commitment, dedication to improving and respect for your elders and peers. It is a highly competitive community, but this competitiveness is aimed towards improvement, both personal and mutual.

To be recognized as a member, you first need to share the values and ideals it promotes, the paramount of which is knowledge. If you know about the history of it and the most prominent members that have contributed to its development, you can start thinking about yourself as a member too. If you would like to contribute by rapping, DJing, break dancing or doing graffiti, you need to understand that a certain attitude is expected of you: one of commitment, dedication to improving and respect for your elders and peers. It is a highly competitive community, but this competitiveness is aimed towards improvement, both personal and mutual.

The behaviour that allows me to be identified in this community is my respecting all the above-mentioned traits: I am a beat maker, i.e. the musician who makes the instrumentals for the rapper and DJ’s to use, and without false modesty, a well-respected one, at least locally. When events are organized, I can show up and be sure to know at least 80% of the performers involved on a personal level, though not being a front man makes me more difficult to be recognized by the general public. I do have social networks, but I tend to rely more on my music than my image.

As per my appearance, hip-hop has long since started dictating fashion trends and we can see that on a daily basis. Thos of you with kids will definitely confirm. There are scores of brands that are endorsed or even started by members of the community, thus making it rather easy to spot a member. However, the fact that it is fashion means that it can attract people who have no interest in understanding what lies beyond the apparel and just want to fit in and be up-to-date with the modern trend. Personally, I do not follow the fashion anymore, and though I still have some items I keep in my closet as a relic of old times, I tend to keep my appearance as “clean” and simple as possible. I have never really loved standing out, and that’s probably the reason why I chose to make the music, traditionally a role that stays in the background. Kind of like the drummer in a rock band.

I have never really loved standing out, and that’s probably the reason why I chose to make the music, traditionally a role that stays in the background. Kind of like the drummer in a rock band. ¬†And come to think of it, my being confused as to who I am nationality-wise may be the reason I have chosen this background role: I don’t know who I am exactly, and I don’t want to burden my neighbour with the same doubt. It confuses people and, historically, people are afraid or refuse what they fail to understand. So in order to feel accepted, I need people to not be confused and afraid. It probably has many other ramifications, but I feel I might be getting a bit OT here, so let’s just leave it at that.

Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply