Five pillars of hip hop revealed

By Time of article published Jul 6, 2009

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The annual Hip Hop Connected performance at Artscape will showcase the pillars of a socially conscious movement that has been both misunderstood and commercially exploited, says producer Teba Shumba.

The 2009 Artscape Hip Hop Connected show is sub-titled Love Of My Life and focuses on both the performance and creative elements of hip hop culture, bringing it into the dramatic setting of a theatre context. Committed hip hop head, performer and educator Teba Shumba has directed a show that promises "dynamic dance, funky beats, spectacular lights and a superb cast" that will offer "jaw-dropping performances against an urban backdrop, representing the treets where our youth are raised".

"Hip Hop Connected takes hip hop to the theatre; introducing people who like the theatre to hip hop, and introducing hip hop to the discipline of theatre," says Teba. "It educates people about the essence of hip hop, which does not have a proper platform in most popular media, and it creates a platform for hip hop artists who seldom get the facilities to articulate their work."

What can Teba mean, saying hip hop is not in popular media, when our screens and airwaves are filled with the sounds of American rap?

"That is not necessarily hip hop," says Teba quickly. "They are using hip hop elements, which they appropriate into their pop. Hip hop is cultural commentary. True hip hop always has five elements or pillars: the visual, the graffiti artist; the DJ who creates the music; the talking, the MC or rapper; the dancer, the b-boy or b-girl. Then we take the strongest element, that is the knowledge of self. What you witness in the media as rap is often used for commercial purposes, along with the portrayal of certain stereotypes, like gangsterism and pimping. Anyone can rap, anyone can riddle, but that might not be necessarily be productive or progressive."

A key theme running through hip hop culture, and a key message underlying the Hip Hop Connected series, is a theme of social consciousness and social upliftment.

"Hip hop is a culture, it is protest music," says Teba. "It is a culture that is there to create better thinking. It is all about being positively utilised and exposing youth to it; to spread it and make more people to overstand it. I am just an individual who is involved with it, but hip hop is a thing that belongs to many. I've grown and learned and interacted and travelled so much. I have experienced fulfilment and mental liberation and overcoming the stumblings that I faced as an individual. Now it is about sharing this."

Teba was a clear choice as director for the show, both in terms of his experience as a hip hop artist, but also given his experience of the benefits of what it can teach.

"In 1990 I got involved with hip hop and began writing songs and entering competitions and being educated; listening to the teachings and rhyming. We came from the schools of Prophets of the City and Shamiel X and Rozzano, when we used to go to The Base as youths; while Blaze and Bionic were holding it down in Johannesburg. I have been involved in hip hop and raggamuffin for almost 19 years and I will be for the next 20 years and more. With Hip Hop Connected, we are taking that message further. The show is for the family and the entire human species. Hip hop is a clear and positive culture, and people should embrace it and try to learn more about it."

  • Hip Hop Connected is on this Saturday at 2pm and features Teba, Godessa's EJ von Lyrik, Brasse Vannie Kaap's DJ Eazy, Rattex, Chronic Clan, Eavesdrop, Ill-Literate Skill, D.A.T, Jaak, Umyalezo, 5th Floor and more, with performers backed by Champions, a five-piece band featuring DJ Azhul and Grenville Williams (Godessa, Firing Squad); breakdance crew Immortal Style with B-girls Vee and Snooky. (Artscape Theatre and Foyer, R35, tickets from,

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