Hip Hop International 2012: We ARE ALL Hip-Hop

Photo Credit: John Salangsang (Pacific Rim Photo Press)

There’s really so much to say about the whole Hip Hop International experience for 2012. It can’t all be said because each moment of every day had its own storyline and memory that will last forever. From the moment I went to say hi to friends and crews on Sunday night to the after party when the Finals were done, it was a year that was HISTORICAL! Meeting so many new friends, viewing so many new moves from dancers, and feeling that community and family aspect that is always present at HHI.

One of the defining moments of the week came during a pretty heated, controversial night during the last All -Styles Final between J Boogie and Larry (Les Twins). There had already been a call out between J Boogie and Laurent (Les Twins) which J Boogie had won. For some reason there were people booing the Twins in the crowd, which sparked some tension in the air. A few battles into the competition and when Larry had won a round, a guy in the crowd yelled a curse word toward the ruling. Obviously, he was not a Les Twins fan. Next round, that same guy was supporting another dancer friend of his, who was battling Larry to go on to the semi finals. Larry undoubtedly won the battle, but for some reason that guy and others wanted to state their opinion through boo’s and yelling. Laurent then took the mic from Mookie and stated that anyone who wanted to battle come up now. Mookie took the mic back and tried to calm everyone down, but what happened next is something that everyone should hear.

Larry (Les Twins) took the mic from Mookie and basically said “I am Hip Hop, you are Hip Hop, we are all Hip Hop. Whether you cheer or boo, agree or disagree, win or lose, it does not matter. Because we are all Hip Hop!” What an amazing statement by Larry to make peace by basically saying this is the culture we all are trying to share and become a community in Hip Hop. I believe not only it was a big statement to be made but something most people in that battle took to heart. It made me have a lot more respect for the Twins.

That event, known as the Olympics of Hip Hop Dance, has been said to change lives and many dancers sacrifice so much just to be there for the whole week. Everyone comes together as family and community in the culture to help spread its love, share in their dance, and share pieces of their own culture. We ARE ALL Hip Hop, and we have a duty to teach correct foundation what the pioneers have created but also share in the beautiful talents we have.

Throughout the whole week there was a sense of hype and energy that can only be found when dancers are giving their all just to have the opportunity to compete and perform in front of so many different countries. Hip Hop International has a done a wonderful job to bring out the best in all these dancers from around the world. This is done not only through competition but workshops, cyphers, and interactions with people from other countries. Media outlets like myself, Pacific Rim, Dance Mogul, DanceOn, and many more do our best to share with the world what its like to be at HHI for the whole week. I can tell you not many of us get much sleep, haha.

Eventhough, I have my favorite crews from the week I will say this –2013 you better really step it up! 2012 brought a whole new level of competition to the crews and dancers from all around the world. Both in crew competition and in the World Battles on Saturday. I can’t wait to see how hard people bring it next year!

Two things I wish would happen:

1. Everyone wants Mookie to host the Finals at The Orleans!!! He works his butt off all week and keeps the energy moving but doesn’t get to host the Finals? Mookie is everyone’s friend and he is the face of Hip Hop International, I think its time he gets to host the Finals.

2. Can there be not as much waacking and choreography? I mean its great to have some crews doing it who really can handle waacking perfectly (namely The Waackers and a few other crews from US and the World), but there were some that added a 1 sec waack piece to hit the different styles for points. Same idea for choreo, except theres a lot of crews who do it well…but the problem is 80% of their piece is choreo and 20% is a little locking, popping, waacking, house, or bboying. I will say the influence of more house dancing this year really really made me happy! I loved seeing how many crews including the Juniors and Varsity were jacking and hitting bounces found in House dance.

SNV from India was the underdog story of the whole competition. This being the first time an Indian crew has competed at HHI and fresh off a win for India’s Got Talent, SNV won the crowd over with their fresh moves, their story, and their smiles! Wherever you went, people were talking about the crew from India and then a smile would accompany their face!

For me the USA really stepped it up this year and specifically the crews from Hawaii: Rascals, Bandits, and Academy of Hype. To be honest the whole School District represented — Academy of Swag, Academy of Villains, and Hype.

Watching Jabbawockeez received the Living Legends Award was such a great moment for not only the guys but for the community in general. One of the ‘Wockeez mentioned about how just yesterday they were dancing in a garage and now look at where they are. Everyone starts somewhere and they love helping the culture grow and feeding off the dancers around the world! It was a historical moment for them and for everybody watching!

All in all big shout out to anyone that danced, supported, or helped in someway push the culture and community that much higher! Expansion in a positive way will always give life to the culture as we know it. Yes there may be little rumblings or bites or tensions, but as long as there are a mass majority of people adding to the culture in a positive way, it will never die! Family, friends, staff, choreographers, people who donated, anyone who helped anyone be at HHI – THANK YOU! We appreciate that you believe in these people and their dreams!

BTW – Arizona REPRESENT!!! We need more crews from different states to start coming out next year! Represent your city or state!

Howard and Karen Schwartz who co-founded this amazing event, Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving us a chance to cover this event and to have memories for a lifetime!

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