Culture is defined in the Webster’s Dictionary as “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.”
Hip-Hop is a way of life for a certain group of people. It has unique rules and customs that are observed. As such, hip-hop is clearly a cultural movement.
Rap and hip-hop are not the same thing. Rap is the music. Hip-hop is the name of the culture that is built around the music. Krs-One, legendary hip-hop artist put it best, “Rap is something you do. Hip-hop is something that you live.”
There are four elements to hip-hop.
All of these artistic elements are related and form the basis of hip-hop culture. I will be covering these elements in detail in my upcoming series of posts, A Brief History of Hip-Hop.
These four elements of the culture are universally accepted. Many people have tried to add to this list, but there is quite a debate about what is and should be included. Some will argue that fashion is an element. Some would say that beatboxing needs to be added. Others argue that skateboarding is a part of the culture as well. I believe that hip-hop is a diverse culture that needs to include the main four elements. The other elements that can be suggested are complementary and not completely necessary to define this culture.
A lot of people don’t understand what hip-hop is all about. I hope that my serial will help educate those who wish to learn about this great culture. I may even make a presentation to accompany these posts. Stay tuned to Silent Cacophony for more.
I saw a great movie on the weekend called We Are Marshall. I was really impressed with the coach in this true-life story. He was an amazing character that brought out the best in his staff and players.
As I was watching the movie, I started to draw comparisons between being a coach and being a teacher. I would like to think that both jobs are about bringing out the best in the team or the class. In both positions, the authority figure needs to inspire confidence, to work with individual players, and to get results.
I know that these two jobs are not interchangeable. There are coaches who could never teach in a classroom and teachers who just aren’t cut out to be coaches. That being said, I think the classroom could run quite effectively if a teacher were to take on some characteristics of great coaching. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t work for a variety of reasons.
Teachers are held to a higher standard than coaches. Proven coaching methods would be deemed inappropriate for the classroom. I have seen great coaches lose their temper from time to time. I have seen great coaches yell and swear at their players. I have seen coaches push their players to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion. Teachers could never get away with any of this behaviour.
I think we need to remember that teachers are real people. Some days are hard. Sometimes things pile up and there is so much pressure that it is hard to cope. I admit to losing my temper a few times in class. Every time it has happened, I have feared for my career. People can be so unforgiving of teachers.
I wish as a teacher that I had more power. I wish I could push my students hard and let them feel the consequences of their actions. I wish I could try some unconventional plays in order to reach all the students. I wish I could draw from old playbooks and use some proven methods.
All I want to be is a great teacher. I want to reach my students. I want every student in my class to reach his or her true potential. I want them all to develop academically and aesthetically. As a teacher, I always have to worry about how my actions and methods are perceived. It’s a standard that I have to live up to. The only thing is that it is limiting.
I know the rules of the game. I know how the education system works. I just think that there needs to be a little leeway. My methods don’t always work but my heart is always in the game. If I have a bad day, I always work hard to overcome it, and to improve. That’s what life is all about.
Raising Hell – Run-DMC
This is the album that introduced me to rap music. I remember it quite well. I was at a family due and my cousin had the cassette tape. He made sure that the adults weren’t around and he played it for a few of his cousins.
One of the rappers swore in one of the songs, and that was all the kids huddling around the tape deck were focusing on. At the time, I didn’t think much of people who swore so I wrote it off as something that I didn’t want to hear.
It took me a while to come around and actually give the tape a good listen. I was glad that I actually did. It was amazing. Something about it really spoke to me and I discovered rap music.
Run-DMC became my favourite group and I bought their previous two albums. I collected all of their albums of cassette and on vinyl. When I finally started buying CDs, I bought all their albums again on CD. I think they are the best group ever and that this album is a hip hop classic.
This is the album that produced their biggest and most recognizable hit, Walk This Way. The funny thing is that they only wanted to sample the beat and not redo the entire song. The producer and label convinced them to do it and they very reluctantly agreed. The rest is history.
Run-DMC brought rap music to the masses. They were the first group to ever have a video on MTV and the first international success story. Quite frankly without Run-DMC, hip-hop would not exist, as we know it today. They are true pioneers and this album is a must have for any music collection.
I used to volunteer at the community cable station in Stoney Creek. It was quite the experience to go into a tiny television studio, operate the equipment, and actually be part of a team that put on television shows. That was a long time ago but the memories stay with me.
Operating a camera inside the studio wasn’t as easy as you might think. The cameras were huge and quiet heavy. I would wear a headset to get instructions from the producer on what shots he wanted me to get. After a while, operating it became a snap. I thought I could shoot anything. That was until I went out on a mobile production.
The station had a mobile studio and could drive to any event to tape it. The hardest thing I ever had to film was a figure skating competition. I didn’t realize that it would be so tough to follow the skaters across the ice. My camera was fixed in one location and the truck would switch to my camera whenever they need to get a shot from my angle.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Of course, in the studio all I needed to do was focus on someone sitting down. It is a lot harder to focus on someone when they are moving quickly across the ice. As the skaters moved from one end to the other, you would need to pan the camera to keep them in the shot. If they got closer or further away you would need to zoom in or out. You would also have to tilt the camera depending on where they were on the ice. All the time, you needed to constantly adjust the focus so that the skater wasn’t blurry on the screen. I just couldn’t do it.
It took me the entire competition, about two agonizing hours, to figure out how to keep a skater in the frame and in focus. It was a disaster. I try not to think about it, even today. I know the producer in the truck was probably banging his head against the wall because he had to use some of my shots and I know that they were all horrible. And of course, the only time someone notices the camera operator is when something goes wrong.
That’s why I want to salute camera operators everywhere today. I was amazed when I saw the Winter X Games this past weekend. A camera operator would follow a snowboarder down the slope. You could see these operators at times during the broadcast. It is amazing to me just thinking that they had to do all of the things I had to do during the skating competition, all the while they were skiing down a hill at the same time. That must take a huge amount of talent.
So I say we need to give the cameraman some applause. That sporting event was great this weekend. I enjoyed every minute of it. And it is all thanks to the camera operators who capture every moment in clear focus and keeping the subject in the frame. Great job!
Transformers are an iconic part of my childhood. I remember quite clearly running home form school to watch the cartoon show. I was excited about the theatrical release and dragged my parents to it. I even bought the soundtrack. The songs wouldn’t normally have been my taste of music but it was Transformers so I loved it. I wore that tape out from playing it so much.
I asked for the toys for Christmas and birthday presents. I had quite a few of the toys too. I had an original Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Ironhide. Man, I wish that I still had those. I remember when they started selling smaller toys that had a colour changing logo on the front. You would have to rub the logo to see if the robot were an Autobot or Decepticon.
They have tried to keep the franchise going since then, but nothing has ever really matched that original animated series. They have had several other animated series, some have even been computer animated. The only one that was remotely good though was Beast Wars, and while I can say it was okay, I can’t say it was great.
A few years ago, they started up the comic book again. I was intrigued and started buying the montly issues. Dreamwave told stories that focused on the robot characters. They were adult stories and quite well done. They had a series entitled, The War Within, which I absolutely adored. Finally, I thought, someone gets what Transformers is and should be about. The story took place in the past and focused on the civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons. There were no human characters involved whatsoever. It was entirely the robots on their own planet. It was brilliant storytelling. Unfortunately, the company went belly-up and the third story arc was left uncompleted.
A new company has picked up the title and put its own spin on the franchise. So far they are doing a fairly good job. I really miss The War Within though. I was so looking forward to the live action movie, but it was garbage. There is also a new kids animated show on the weekends, and it is horrible as well.
I’m not sure why the Transformers can’t seem to get it right. I have high hopes that the big budget sequel to last summer’s movie will focus on the robot characters and tell a better story. The compelling thing about the Transformers has always been the robot characters. The gimmicks, and effects don’t really matter as long as there is good character development and story writing. Here’s to a return to the glory days.
I started working on a new novel three weeks ago. I had a situation, a character name, one rough scene of dialogue, and not much else. That was my starting point. I didn’t really know where I was going with it, but I sat down and typed away anyway.
I wrote a prologue and then got stalled. I wasn’t sure how to connect my story idea to what I had written. Truthfully, it was the second prologue I had written for this story. The last one, I wrote way back in the summer. It just didn’t seem to work for me for some reason. I was afraid that I was going to get stalled again.
But as I talked to a friend about my idea, he gave me exactly what I needed to move on.
He said that I should start the next part of the story with, “I can’t believe that it’s been five years…” I ran to my pen and scribbled that idea down. It was perfect. I was back on track. That was January 7th.
Well, last night, I just incorporated my initial rough scene of dialogue into Chapter 3. I can’t believe it, but the story has come quite a way. It’s actually been a surprise how it has all unfolded.
It’s amazing what you can do with just the seed of an idea. I can say this because I now have over 12,000 words written. I am aiming for 80,000 – 100,000 words so I am only just getting started.
I like the fact that you can write without knowing where you are going. It’s like going out on a hike around town. Who knows where you might end up? It’s just nice to go out for a stroll and explore the environment.
First I saw a commercial where cars were stuck in a gridlock and a few of the drivers stuck started to blow bubbles. It was a light moment in a usually tense situation. It was also kind of beautiful. The voice over announced this as a “blatant act of road joy.” Nice!
I then came across this blog http://cindy-hesse.blogspot.com/2008_01_01_archive.html
and read her post that gives us ideas on how to perform random acts of kindness. She actually lists 100 different ideas and has the post linked up to this website.
This website has a teacher’s guide and resources on how to bring this idea into the classroom.
I then found this site from visiting Lone Grey Squirrel
Is this a revolution happening online now? Are people doing kind acts for no reason other than doing them? This is such a great thing. When I was a Boy Scout in my youth, our movement encouraged us to all perform a good turn daily. Simple acts can make all the difference to someone. It seems like this idea is catching on. It’s about time I got back to actively looking for opportunities to do a good turn daily. Today’s surfing has been enlightening.
Tuesdays are when new music is released. I used to look forward to Tuesdays. I would run to the record stores downtown and try to find the lowest price on the new must-have tape. Yup, I said tape.
I reluctantly started buying CDs when I realized that I could not save the cassette tape format all on my own. It was a losing battle. Surprisingly, I now own over 800 CDs. I’ve just gotten used to this format and it is dying too. Fortunately, CDs can be transferred to digital files easily enough. It’s harder to convert over tapes but I have managed to do so with a few of my most favourite albums.
I am beginning to think that this new digital music revolution is killing the album. It seems to be about the song now. Singles and ring tones are ruling the charts. Albums don’t seem to be as important anymore in the grand scheme of things, but they are to me. So I am starting a new weekly feature here. Tuesdays will be album spotlight days. I will post an entry every week about my all-time favourite albums.
Choosing what albums to spotlight will be a chore for me. I have so many albums where I can sing along to every single song. I have albums that have special significance for me for a variety of reasons. Of course, I also have albums in my collection that merely collect dust. I blow off the dust every now and then play them but I have many albums that have remained unplayed for quite some time and will probably stay that way as well. I have jewels in my collection but I also have turds. I think all music collections are like that.
So, be on the lookout for the album spotlight. It starts next week. I hope this feature will be as well received as my Commonplace Book Tuesdays, which has been spun off into its own blog. Remember to go check it out at Thoughtful Cacophony. I highlight song lyrics there every Wednesday as well. I hope you enjoy both features.
Story by Robert McKee
I first heard of this book from a comic book convention. I sat in on a writer’s panel discussion and was quite fascinated. It was amazing to hear writers speak of their craft, characters, and creations. I have been to a few of these events and have been able to meet some legendary writers. One of them was Brian Michael Bendis. He is an amazing writer, so when he sang the praises of this book, I knew I had to check it out.
This is a must have for any writer. Read it with a pencil in your hand. Make underlines and notes. Study it, memorize it, and apply it to your work. It is the best book I have ever read on the craft of writing and I know many writers in several different genres that sing its praises. If you don’t already have a copy, you NEED to go get one.
It was one of those rare occasions where I had time to surf for blogs. Here are a few that I found today that I thought might be of interest.
http://www.valeriemorrison.net/blog/ Thinking Out Loud – humour, observations, etc
http://zenhabits.net/ Self help advice, etc
http://daily-rambler.blogspot.com/ Daily Rambler – info on blogging, advice, etc
http://writetodone.com/ Advice and tips for writers
http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/ Nathan Bransford is a Literary Agent and his blog has tonnes of advice and tips.
It’s one of those weekends again. It’s a weekend where I will need to bring work home. I don’t know if most people realize this, but teachers put a lot of work in outside of the classroom. I normally spend three hours every weekend drawing up my lesson plans for the upcoming week. I can sometimes manage to do some of this planning during the school day but most of the times, I need to do it on my own time.
I also spend a lot of my own time conducting extra-curricular activities. I run the choir and a sports program every week. I really love doing both of those things and donate my time freely. I will always run an extra-curricular activity of some sort for as long as I teach. That is a commitment I am unwilling to compromise on. Students have always responded well to my extra programs and that makes it all worthwhile
During my free time at school, I often have to do some paper work, marking, or photocopying. I have to gather materials for art lessons. I sometimes need to make examples of work and assignments so students will know what I expect of them.
I am not complaining here at all. I love my job, but it is hard work. There are aspects of it that I don’t like. I wish I didn’t have to be a police officer and patrol the halls or playgrounds during recess and lunch hours. And it would be nice to not have to bring work home.
There are many other professionals who always leave their work at work. Teachers don’t have the luxury of doing this. I am always a teacher. I am always thinking of ideas for the classroom, materials I can bring in, marking work, putting together report cards, and planning lessons. It is constant. My bag is quite heavy today too, with work that I didn’t have a chance to mark this week. My planning still needs to be done for next week as well. It looks like this will be another typical weekend where I will need to bring work home.
Why are TV commercials now filled with impossible to read small print? Have you noticed this? I was watching TV last night and noticed that three commercials in a row did this.
Where is the honesty and integrity of these companies that advertise something but then feel the need to put disclaimers and warnings on the bottom of the screen? I mean, who reads these things?
The one that disturbs me the most is the one that tells the elderly that they can get a loan from the equity in their homes. The commercial makes it sounds like a no-lose situation. You get money to do whatever you like and you get to keep your home. The small print reveals the catch; the lender basically owns your home. It’s like they are stealing homes away from families.
Of course, there are the commercials where we need to be told not to duplicate what we see. The drivers of cars are “trained professionals on a closed course.” The cat that appears to be stuck in the wallpaper is “not a real cat.” The act that we just saw is “a dramatization.”
Are people really this stupid? Do we need to be talked down to like this, taken advantage of, or be sold something that sounds way too good to be true? Do people fall for this?
It’s gotten to the point where I can’t stand to watch commercials anymore. ECD commented here once about the need to get rid of commercials for the good of society. Just in case you missed it, check out the original entry. I think he may have something here.
I wanted to write about this when it happened but I didn’t get a chance. Better late than never they say; besides I think this is an important issue. Here’s the set-up.
On New Year’s Day, I had to drive on the highway to another city. We had gotten quite the snowstorm in the night and early morning. Fortunately not too many people were on the road. The conditions were horrible. It was one of those days where the three-lane highway had only one set of tire tracks on it, in the middle lane. The snowplows had not yet been out to clean it up. Everyone was following the singular path and no one was driving in any of the other lanes.
It was still snowing. My wipers were working hard. The road was slippery and it was a bit hard to see. I used a lot of windshield washer fluid. I was traveling at a comfortable speed of 80 kilometres an hour. The speed limit is 100 but the regular flow of traffic on this highway is usually going 120 km an hour. It didn’t feel safe to go any faster, so I stayed at a constant 80 km/hr.
An SUV came up behind me and started to tailgate. I couldn’t believe that this person was riding me so hard during these conditions. I swore under my breath but kept my speed steady. After a minute of this, the SUV decided to try and pass me. They pulled into the fast lane. I watched them in the rear view mirror and laughed as they slowed to a crawl. They must’ve realized that they couldn’t travel in that lane either. They fell a few kilometers behind me.
They pushed petal to the metal and were riding my six again in a few minutes. I waited until I saw a merging lane just up ahead. I didn’t want to pull over into a snow filled lane to let them pass me. It didn’t feel safe. The merging lane was fairly clear of snow so I put on my indicator, slowed, and changed lanes so they could pass me. As soon as they did, I pulled back into the safe lane again. Fortunately, I had no other problems on the rest of my trip.
I think we need to educate drivers to drive according the road and weather conditions. It seems that people think they have a right to exceed the speed limit all the time. If the limit on the highway is 100 km an hour, people feel that they must do that speed at the very least. We need to realize that there are days and times when doing this speed is a stupid idea.
I think it is time to lose speed limits. Either that or have fluctuating speed limits. We could have electronic signs so that on a regular day the speed limit could be 120 km and on ill weather days, it could be 80 km and hour. I realize that this would be a huge investment but so would an education program for all drivers. Perhaps if we had something like this in effect, I wouldn’t have seen as many cars in the ditch that day, or the jack-knifed tractor-trailer. It’s just an idea, but I think we really need to lose the speed limits on highways. What do you think?
Tuesdays used to be the day where I would share one of my quotations from my commonplace book. I’ve collected over 300 quotations on all sorts of interesting topics. I’ve enjoyed sharing them here with you.
My commonplace book has grown and continues to grow. It actually demanded its own blog and as such, I have spun off my Commonplace Tuesday’s feature into Thoughtful Cacophony. I think I already have enough quotations to keep this new blog running well for two years.
Head on over there this week to read some great quotes from R. Crumb, Soul Asylum, Everwood, Paulo Coelho, and an anonymous Graffiti artist. I hope you will enjoy it.
I enjoy watching Wheel of Fortune. I like winding down every night in front of the television, solving puzzles. It gives me a chance to relax after work, although there is one thing that I find frustrating about the experience.
During every show, there is a point where the viewer can win a nice trip and some cash. The only catch is that you need to join the Wheel Watcher’s Club. It’s free and easy to sign up for online. Once you’ve signed up, you get a spin ID. If this number is shown during the broadcast, you call or go online to claim your prize. Sounds great, right?
Wrong. This contest is not available to Canadians. I don’t know why this is so. It seems unfair to me. We see the exact same program as the states. The only difference is that every night during the spin ID segment, we get a graphic covering up all the numbers and telling us that we can’t play. Why are Canadians not treated the same way as American viewers? I would really like to know.
I had a similar problem this Christmas. I watched Clash of the Choirs and was absolutely blown away by Nick Lachey’s choir. Before watching this show, I would have written off the guy as a no-talent hack. This show totally changed my opinion. He commanded his choir with heart, integrity, and talent. It was a stellar performance and his group deserved to win. Now I don’t normally vote for reality television shows but I felt compelled to after seeing his choir sing “Flight of the Bumblebee” using non-sense syllables. It was unlike anything I had ever seen.
I dialed the phone and was met with a message that the call could not be completed. I then remembered what they had said on the show all night, “America is voting.” I guess Canadians need not apply.
Nick Lacey’s choir did end up winning the contest, even without my vote. But I have yet to win a trip or cash, even though I am getting quite good at solving the puzzles on Wheel of Fortune. Friday night, it even seemed like Pat and Vanna were taunting me. They were announcing a new contest where they will be giving away two prizes a night of $25,000 for two weeks in February. Pat urged us all to join the club. I would if I could, believe me Pat. I would if I could.
I have finally joined the digital age. Yes, I broke down and bought an MP3 player. I did a lot of research before buying one and I think I have found the perfect player. I didn’t buy an Ipod. They are extremely limiting. I needed something that could work on more than one computer. I needed something that was easy to use, and I wanted a player with expandable memory. I found all of this in the ZEN by Creative.
This player has 4GB of internal memory but it also takes SD cards. You can take an SD card right out of your camera and view your pictures on it. That is a nice feature, but even better still is the fact that you can use an SD card as a disk drive. I bought a 2GB card and managed to fit 27 albums worth of material onto it.
The coolest thing about this player is that you can hook it into any computer via a USB port and the computer will recognize it as a disk drive. My old out-dated computer won’t load up the software to put songs directly onto the player but it will recognize the SD card and I can easily put songs on there.
I will probably dive into the digital age a little more deeply in the future. This is a start for me and I really enjoy having this player. I will still be buying CDs and converting them over until I get a better computer. Besides, I like having the whole experience of a CD. I like to have a hard copy of it, as it were, in my collection. I don’t see myself downloading tunes anytime soon. But I can say that I have finally joined the digital age. It feels good.
Last summer, I thought that it was so great that I managed to save some space and organize my entire CD collection (see entry.) This Christmas break, I found myself organizing this same collection yet again.
It took a lot of time and effort but I managed to convert my entire collection of rap CDs into MP3 files over my Christmas vacation. I borrowed my mom’s laptop since I don’t have a computer capable of doing this. I then burned the MP3 files onto CDs and was able to fit, on average, ten albums onto one CD. I was able to fit my entire rap collection, 500 CDs onto 48 discs. They now fit into two CD wallets.
I can’t believe that I can take my entire rap collection with me anywhere now. This is amazing. I have noticed that MP3s don’t sound as good as the regular CD format. But like all people, I am willing to trade a little bit of sound quality for the convenience.
I love the fact that I still have the DJ crates so I can access the original CDs easily enough whenever I want to. I can still open up the art and explore these albums that way I always have in the past. I can’t see myself ever selling my collection of CDs. I love having this collection and I like the fact that I have now backed up my collection. This is something that I would never have been able to do in the past. Technology is so amazing in what it can do these days. Tomorrow I will tell you about my new player.
Water is something that we all take for granted. We don’t have to think about it at all. If we need it, we head to any tap, turn it on, and the water flows. We don’t know how lucky we have it until one day, we turn the tap and nothing happens. This happened to me yesterday. The water has been out since then.
I really missed my morning shower today. The dishes have been piling up in the sink. The toilet won’t even flush. Fortunately, there is plenty of snow outside. I scooped up some of the white stuff and dumped it into the tub. The snow melted quickly enough in the house and gave me some much-needed water. I am now able to flush the toilet by scooping up water from the tub and pouring it down the front of the toilet.
I normally have three 4-litre water jugs in the fridge. It is nice to have cold water available whenever I need it. It is also a good idea to have water stored up, just in case something like this happens. 12 litres of water won’t last long in most households but it’s better than nothing. It is amazing how much water we use in our regular day-to-day life. It is something that we don’t really think about either, until it is not there.
I know that this problem will be fixed soon. The water will probably be flowing again by tomorrow. Until then, I can ration what I have in the house. Of course, I can go to the store to buy water whenever I need it too.
This water stoppage is just a local problem. Imagine what would happen if the water was out across the entire city. Bottled water would become the most highly valued commodity. No one can live without water. We are fortunate enough to have an abundant supply of it. I know that I won’t take that for granted anymore.
Commonplace Book Tuesdays has now been spun off into its own blog. I have wanted to do this for some time now. The best thing about it is that I will be able to effectively share my extensive collection of quotations. I will organize the entries by theme, topic, author, and any other label I deem appropriate.
I will be doing weekly features on this new blog as well. Motivational Mondays will focus on quotations that are inspirational. This will help start off the week on a good note. Tube Tuesdays will showcase wisdom pulled from television shows and movies. What!?! Wednesdays will highlight song lyrics that have made me pause and admire excellent songwriting. Thursdays and Fridays will be open for me to post anything from my extensive collection that I wish to share.
I am not sure whether I should continue this feature here as well. My online commonplace book can go places where I wouldn’t be able to here. I am really looking forward to this new format of my commonplace book. I hope that you will head on over to check out Thoughtful Cacophony.
I will probably keep up this feature for a few weeks to help promote this new blog. I could also pick my favourite quotation from the week and post it here on Tuesdays to keep this feature alive and well here. Let me know what you think. And if you have any great quotes that you would like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks.
The battle in hip-hop is an art form all to itself. In a freestyle battle, two rappers compete against each other in order to deliver the best rhymes. The object of the battle is to deliver funny and witty rhymes that tear down your opponent.
Some emcees will write rhymes and practice them just for battles, although this is not what a true rapper does. Freestyle means that you create your rhymes right there on the spot with no preparation.
If a rapper is truly freestyling, they should never repeat the same rhyme. It is like talking because most of the time you don’t rehearse what you are going to say.
I found this blog entry that delves into the topic with great detail and gives tips for any aspiring battler. Check it out!