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Especial HHR: "Hip Hop is a weapon"

Written By Rimas Rebeldes on 19.8.10 | 19.8.10

Hace 5 años se lanzaba "oficialmente" el sitio Hiphoprevolucion.org en el marco de la Cumbre Internacional de Hip Hop que se realizó como evento paralelo al Festival Mundial de la Juventud y los Estudiantes en Caracas. Para celebrar el nacimiento público de una idea que creció hasta convertirse en varias otras cosas (que ni se imaginaban por entonces), vamos a postear varias cosillas relacionadas a aquel proyecto inicial llamado HHR. (Atentis que va a ver música de muy buen nivel). Para empezar una entrevista que nos hicieron a Gustavo Borges y a mí (Manu) para la revista de la Liga de Jóvenes Comunistas de Estados Unidos (sí, existe algo así). Está en inglés pero se puede traducir.

Hip Hop is a weapon: An interview with Hip Hop Revolución
English translation by Jose Garciá / Traducir a español con Google Traductor

The International Hip Hop Summit, taking place in Caracas at the World Festival of Youth and Students, will bring together Hip Hop artists and activists from all over the world. Hip Hop Revolución, a network of revolutionary Latin American Hip Hop organizations and artists, sees the Festival and the Summit as a unique opportunity to promote Latin American Hip Hop culture and to continue the fight for peace and solidarity. Dynamic speaks with Gustavo Borges and Manuel Cullen, the group’s co-directors.

Dynamic: What is Hip Hop Revolución?
HHR: Hip Hop Revolución is a concept that was conceived in that small, great island named Cuba. It was created by Anónimo Consejo and picked up by other artists, not only Cubans. It is a site, and a tribute, which tries to disseminate Hip Hop that is engaged in our People’s realities, taking a special stand in Latin America. Beginning from the site, HHR is becoming a web of artists that understand Hip Hop as a tool of struggle and social change.

Dynamic: What do you do in Hip Hop?
Manuel: Well, I love Hip Hop, I’ve been at it since I was 15, first rhyming with friends, then spreading it through Buenos Aires, organizing parties as a DJ, and writing in fanzines.
Gustavo: I am a Hip Hop promoter, more than anything I’m into the propelling, diffusion and creation of the four elements. I was the manager of a couple of groups for some time and now I’m deeply involved with HHR.

Dynamic: How old is it and which countries are included? Which groups?
HHR: Well, the idea is a little bit more than two years old and the site about the same. The official launch will be during the Youth Festival. On the web there are groups from all over Latin America and even from Angola. We constantly invite folks to join HHR, which they do with enthusiasm. The last one to do so was an MC that lives in Spain but is originally from Bolivia, his name is H Barriga and he makes very good Hip Hop. Others, like Legua York (Chile), Actitud María Marta (Argentina), Skool y Boca Floja (Mexico), Comunidade Da Rima (Brazil), have been with us since the beginning. There are also artists from Cuba, Colombia, and we hope to keep adding more and more to our ranks.

Dynamic: What’s the goal of Hip Hop Revolución? Why was it created?
HHR: The original idea arose from the project of making a manifesto about the reality of our America, taking a clear position in regard to different problems such as Plan Colombia, the blockade on Cuba, the coup attempts in Venezuela, just to name a few on the regional level; and police brutality, and unemployment in our barrios and favelas. The project involves a site to have the manifesto signed by all the artists and people in the Hip Hop community that want to join in. At the same time, in www.hiphoprevolucion.org the idea is to diffuse the work and experience of MC’s, DJ’s, Graffiti Artists and B-Boys that use Hip Hop not only as a means to express themselves positively and creatively but as a tool of struggle and social change. We have proven that these experiences abound in our continent but are not well known.

Dynamic: What projects are you working on right now?
HHR: Currently, we are completely dedicated to the site. Also, I do social work here in Venezuela, in the barrios, which I project through art or design (www.el23.net). We are also collaborating with www.aifahiphop.org, whose idea is to put together a base with sites dedicated to Hip Hop from all over the world. We are also collaborating with the Chilean leftist magazine Pluma y Pincel, which is looking into distributing within its issues, a compilation of revolutionary Hip Hop from Latin America.

Dynamic: What do you guys think is the role of Hip Hop in the youth resistance movement?
HHR: Hip Hop is a weapon. You could use it as a tool of resistance or against you or your people. That’s why we believe the role of Hip Hop in the youth resistance movement is of great importance. We can both help each other and we definitely need each other if we really want to change the current state of the world, at least in regards to youth at the peripheries.

Dynamic: What do you guys say to those that claim that international youth are “copying"? the Hip Hop of the US? Is Venezuelan Hip Hop something authentic?
HHR: First of all, I would tell them to worry about more serious things. We are not going to negate that Hip Hop was born in New York. Those that invented [Hip Hop] culture to express themselves with few resources and lots of creativity were Afro Americans, Jamaicans and Latinos, who shared in common with those from all over the world the same grievances. And of course, there are people copying but [be] careful; folks believe that to be authentic they must sample or use autochthonous music. That’s very simplistic.

Personally, I love that Actitud María Marta uses tango samples or that Hermanos de Causa reedited the Cuban classic “Lagrimas Negras"?. There are also Argentineans, when they talk of the military dictatorship, which use the slang of Buenos Aires. But they never cease to be Argentineans in their flow. Hermanos de Causa are authentically Cuban in “Lagrimas Negras"? when they use a hardcore beat, and express like few, the complexity and reality of the Island. As you can see, we cannot talk of a copy. Besides, Hip Hop is a world phenomenon and the Latin American youth pays as much attention to North American rap as they do to the French, Spaniard, and that of its continental neighbors. In any case, the danger of falling to the MTV stereotype is always present and not only for the international youth. For North Americans, the danger is greatest and that’s exactly what happens--in the United States rappers tend to copy the worst of each other.

Dynamic: What will be the role of Hip Hop in the WFYS?
HHR: Fortunately, this is the first time that Hip Hop is officially included in the program of the World Festival. It was a joint proposal from the preparatory committee of the United States and us. We seek to unite for the first time the greatest quantity of artists and groups identified with this project, and believe it will be a unique opportunity. That’s why we are putting all our strength, determination, and energy to make it happen.

Dynamic: Are the events open to all groups and fans of Hip Hop?
HHR: Of course, we want the convergence to be very inclusive, to include the greatest possible quantity of people, to create a movement from this space. So when folks return to their countries we all remain connected to work on new projects in the future. We believe the movement is going to grow because of the festival.

Dynamic: Why is it important for Hip Hop to have its own space during the festival?
HHR: We think Hip Hop is such an important theme, like all those that will be covered in the Festival. We also struggle for solidarity and peace and against the war. Besides, we are militants and promoters of the ideals of the festival. We are very grateful for the opportunity and to you for the interest. Until today we [only] barked; [now] it is time to bite. Peace.

About Rimas Rebeldes

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