Northwest Folklife

2015 Cultural Focus: Traditional Roots of Hip Hop

Traditional Roots of Hip Hop

Every year, Northwest Folklife engages a Northwest community to showcase during the year leading up to the Festival. This ‘Cultural Focus’ allows Folklife to connect more in depth with the people that we serve and empower their artistic expressions and cultural traditions.

Brazilian Capoeira

The 2015 Cultural Focus, Beats, Rhymes and Rhythms: Traditional Roots of Hip Hop explores the cross-cultural roots of arts expressions that have evolved into contemporary cultures today, specifically examining the traditional roots of Hip Hop.

African and Latin traditional dance, the blues, gospel songs and spirituals, scat-singing of the early jazz days, African-American street culture, word battles, socially conscious songwriting—these are just some of the seeds we’ll explore for this year’s Cultural Focus. Hip Hop serves as an umbrella for this program, tying together many communities from around the Pacific Northwest—some of those that have been representing their cultures and traditions for years at the Festival. The goal is to present a multi-generational, multi-cultural, inter-disciplinary program to educate the Pacific Northwest about the cross-cultural roots of local communities while highlighting Hip Hop’s traditional folk roots.

Capoeira and Breakdancing’s roots are live expressions of freedom and practice of Social Justice. Capoeira Angola and Regional differs on style, but both disguises a language of independence disguised in music and dance. Breakdancing, with several movements inspired by the movements of capoeira, overlaps the slave rebellion in Brazil with the urban revolution in for of arts in the streets of New York. Both, Capoeira and Breakdancing are growing in popularity in the modern world, yet keeping the paradoxical reflection of the way to step out to conventions and voice out against injustice
Eduardo Mendonça, Show Brazil Director and Co-Founder and Co-Director for BrasilFest

This program comes particularly timely in the state of development of hip hop culture and education, as Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed Hip Hop History Month in the State of Washington this past November to honor the culture, lineage and impact of Hip Hop in the Northwest.

Hip hop began as a youth-led movement and an alternative from violence, drugs, alcohol, racism, and other ills that plagued the inner-city/urban communities of color; one that connects people from varied social and economic backgrounds today.

During the 44th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival (May 22–25, 2015), audiences can experience four days of music and dance performances, panels and presentations, films, visual arts and participatory workshops that explore the world and roots of Hip Hop. The Program ties the five key elements of Hip Hop—Music (DJing), Dance (B-boy and B-girl), Storytelling (MCing), Public Art (Graffiti), and Social Awareness–back to the origins of Hip Hop.

Starting in January, we will be building up to the 2015 Festival through monthly events that will be held in Seattle and Northwest regions with partnering communities.