If I told you that you can learn a lot from Hip-hop, you would probably think I’m lying. When people usually hear the word ‘Hip-Hop’, they automatically associate it with ‘bling, drugs, sex, and violence’. Contrary to what you see on T.V these days, Hip-hop actually promotes ‘Peace, love, and unity’. It was an underground movement which started in the early 70’s in Bronx, New York City. It was a way out for youngsters to escape from the ‘gang culture’ and violence. It gave the people a voice they could use to be heard by the world. People practicing this culture found meaning and thus made their lives worthwhile. 

My journey in Hip-hop started roughly 8 years ago. One of its elements, b-boying or popularly known as breakdancing caught my attention. The Internet was my only tool as b-boying was new in my city (Bangalore). I faced a lot of hardships like identity crisis, moments of self-doubt, and more.When I look back, I realized that I’ve learned a lot through this art form. I would like to share what I’ve picked up during the course of my journey (still on-going). 

Always be yourself

Bruce Lee once said ‘’ To express yourself honestly, not lying to yourself, is very hard to do.”. It’s easy to go out and be somebody else, it’s hard to be yourself. The world already has enough people trying to be someone else, it has very few people who can be themselves. You have to learn to be comfortable with yourself and whatever flaws you may have, you can use it to your advantage or work on it and become a better person. When imitating people you like, you should only use it to grow. You shouldn’t try to become that person as you will lose your identity. In b-boying, its all about being yourself and speaking through your movement.Everyone is unique, and if you are trying to stand out, just be yourself.

Break down your goals 

Aim for the stars when setting goals in life, but break it down by making it step-wise (or anything similar), to make it achievable. Start with baby steps. If you set the bar really high initially, the chances of failure are higher. You will get disheartened if you can’t achieve what you set out to do. The world today is highly competitive and it is easy to lose your way in the race to the top. Every miniature milestone you pass, you will feel happier and more

confident. B-boying is a competitive dance form filled with thousands of dancers who have taken this art-form to a very high level. When I started out, I thought it would be impossible to reach that level. However, with proper planning and goal setting, I’m closer to my ultimate dream goal more than ever.

Discipline is key 

Discipline is forever, motivation is fleeting. Never be dependent on motivation to push you forward. It is a temporary feeling and volatile. Discipline will help you in all aspects of life. Even if you aren’t driven to achieve something a particular day, it will keep you going. Being productive and focused will no longer be words you say, it’ll become part and parcel of your life. The ultimate key to success is discipline. As a b-boy, there are times when I haven’t felt the need to practice or push myself, as I wasn’t ‘feeling it’ for some time. For a dancer, this can be dangerous as you can become lazy if you depend on it to practice every day.

Work hard and smart 

“All men are created equal. Some work harder during pre-season.” – Emmitt Smith. In today’s world, you should not only work hard, you should work smart also. Whoever your role model is, you should realize that they were also in the same position a long time ago. You only get to see the end result, you never get to see how hard someone is working. No one gets really good overnight. They would have pushed themselves tirelessly for a really long time to get where they are at the moment. You should work on, what are you good at, first. Work on your weaknesses later. There is another quote by Bruce Lee which says “ I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”. A powerful and meaningful quote and I always read it before going out for dance practice. I’ve met a lot of famous B-boys who are really good at what they do. The one thing they have in common is that they all worked hard and pushed themselves to the limit to reach where they are now.

Live in the moment 

Don’t dwell on the past or think about the future. Appreciate what you have at the moment. You should also try doing things that you would usually never do. Go out of your way to make things happen, try to get as many new experiences as possible. There are tons of things to do and you may run across more things you enjoy doing. The possibilities are endless and no stone should be left unturned. I picked this up from the ‘b-boy cypher’. A cypher is when the dancers stand in a circle and if you want to dance, you dance inside the circle. As the cypher gets intense, the circle gets smaller, eventually to the point where the circle is so small you can barely move inside it. Doing choreographed moves inside is impossible as you can never prepare for what can happen inside a cypher. You have to go with the flow and see what best you can do with your present situation (how big the circle is). When you are in one, you have to learn to respond to what another person does. This might involve trying something new out, even if you have never done anything like that before. This will help you enjoy what you are doing.

The beauty of this culture cannot be captured with a photo or video, it can only be felt. You have to witness a b-boy event to understand what I meant by the above line. I’ve grown in ways I couldn’t even imagine and I’ve had a lot of life-changing experiences. I was a shy, timid and had low self-esteem when I started out, but when I look at myself now, I am the complete opposite. Hip-hop brings a lot to the table, and you can learn so much from it. Just open your eyes and see for yourself, rather than to believe the way in which the media portrays this culture.