Thursday, 9 February 2012

What is Hip-Hop?

Earlier, we - Skittlez Crew - had the great honor and privilege to be taken under the wing of none other than one of the founders of Filipino hip-hop, Jmasta.

Aside from the bboy foundations, hip-hop history and culture, and tricks he taught us, he shared some amazing pearls of wisdom that isn't just for the random street dancer. He taught us how to 'keep it real', really.

Over 20 years on, and still rocking.

Note: These are not verbatim; I have kept the spirit of the lessons alive (even if synthesized for clarity), if not the exact wordings. Any and all errors of fact are mine alone.

On Knowledge
"Hip Hop isn't just about choreography or the dance itself. You have to know your roots and your history. The years when hip-hop was born, its roots from disco, its music from rock, the first important events, even historical hip-hop places. You have to know all of these to know hip-hop."

"To truly know hip-hop, imagine you're entering a big box. Inside that box are all the styles ever created and invented, all within the big thing called hip-hop. Bboy, locking, popping, krump - they're all part of the big hip-hop entity."

On Battles
"You can't be a hip-hop dancer if you haven't been battle-tested on the cypher; you're just a toy. The cypher is sacred; when you dance in it and you have no idea what you just did after (and no one else does) - the spirit of dance took over."

"Losing is never an option. When you do anything, do it to win. When you do lose, that's okay, learn from it because it shows the things you need to improve on."

"If someone in your crew is weak, it's everybody's fault. You dance as a team, you learn as a team. No man left behind. Everything is done as a team."

On Hip-Hop
"You can never ever say 'I was hip-hop'. Years from now, you may be older and working already, dressed in your corporate attire.. but when you hear a beat and your head bobs to it, you're hip-hop. You never left; it's in you forever."

"My generation is getting old. I'm giving these knowledge to you guys, and I pray that you continue this, continue teaching and giving knowledge to the next generations. One day, one of you will teach my kid hip-hop.That's how hip-hop works because we are all in a family.

"I've learned not to ask for anything when I give knowledge on hip-hop. Why? Because these things, they are small stuff here on Earth, but they're big things for God, and He rewards with many blessings."

"The things every hip-hop practitioner must know are the four elements and the four pillars. The elements are emcee, bboy, DJ, and graffiti. The pillars are peace, love, unity, and have some fun."


So what is hip-hop? I think more than a dance and a culture, it's also a rich and sacred living thing present in each and every one of us. It's something we just know when we feel it.

We're proud and so humbled to have him call us 'family'. It wasn't simply inspiring; it was a call to action for us - the new generation of hip-hop artists - to make sure the torch is passed on and the rich culture and history kept alive.

Jmasta is from Battle Crew International and Zulu Nation. He gives workshops to aspiring and experienced dancers alike all around the country, and is heavily involved with bringing the love of hip-hop to orphans.

Skittlez Crew holds open training sessions almost daily at the Yuchengco Lobby, De La Salle University. No experience necessary. All you need to bring is an open mind and the hunger to learn.

Share if you were inspired!


  1. thank you for asking kuya jay to join and teach you. he is one heck of a guy:)

  2. Hi Sir Peter, thanks for the comment. I agree, he absolutely deserves all the respect dancers give him, and his humility above it all is most inspiring. I'm so happy to know people like you guys! :D