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by Jack Sinclair

People are always asking me why I like hip-hop. It's because it's more than music - it's a musical force than has become a lifestyle. To begin to understand hip-hop, you need to understand the four basics of hip-hop – the elements that've been keeping it real since the beginning: MCing, DJing, break dancing and graffiti. It all goes back to that.

Hip-hop was born out of boredom and rebellion, like most music. In the early days, disco was 'it' – and it got old real quick so people started making their own music. The early dudes started by mixing it up with their DJ's... guys who could keep the beat going if you spun one record into another. Then, the MC's started getting the crowd pumping by giving them a little lead in – something to repeat, and really get the party grooving. The DJ's kept spinning and the MC's kept rapping and hip-hop was born.

The B-boys (breakdancers) have been around since the first rappers. To be a B-boy, you need to have a strong sense of rhythm to really get into the beat. Each dancer brings a special flavour to the moves, which defines their style. And, man, break dancing is tough. I've tried it. You have to have to be incredibly fit and have a lot of self-control.

Graffiti and hip-hop fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. Just like hip-hop, graffiti was born of creative minds coming together to make something out of nothing. Graffiti artists use their surroundings as their canvas and use the cheapest tools they can find – spray paint, markers, whatever will hold colour. The coolest part about graffiti is the way it's recognized around the world – you can find graffiti in all sorts of neighbourhoods, whether it's on the walls of buildings, or zooming by on a train – people are leaving their mark.

There are lots of different opinions about who started what and when and how, but there is no question about the influence that hip-hop has had over people. I may not know all there is to know about hip-hop, but I know that I love it – it gets into my soul. It's all about saying what needs to be said on your own terms, in your own way. Look around, I bet you have a lot more hip-hop culture surrounding you than you thought.

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