Hip Hop on Trial: Hip hop doesn’t enhance society, it degrades it.

Yesterday evening I went to a debate at The Barbican. The debate was “Hip Hop on Trial: Hip hop doesn’t enhance society, it degrades it.”  I went into this debate against the motion, and very excited at the list of individuals who would be on the panel and giving evidence for and against this motion.  Link here for the list of speakers, quite stellar in my opinion.

What stood out as the main point to me was that mainstream hip hop is ruining what hip hop truly was in the past.  It no longer informs and encourages thought and the seeking of knowledge, but rather teaches us to degrade women through misogyny, degrade ourselves through use of racial slurs, promote homophobia, glamorise the ghetto lifestyle and make murder seem a realistic prospect for solving disagreements.

I agreed with a great deal of what was said from both sides, which left me feeling a little confused as to how I stood on the argument, but then I realised that only a small part of hip hop was being argued about, the mainstream.  Real hip hop, the kind which is though provoking, filled with double entendres, similes and metaphors, hidden meanings and insights into another’s life as well as your own is still out there, but is masked by the commercialised which makes money and clogs up the airwaves.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of hip hop.  I have listened to it for as long as I can remember, and when I go out, I will happily dance to the commercial stuff as it usually has a good beat and I am not too bothered about word play when I am in the zone and feeling the music rather than listening to it.  That does not give artist the right to just fill the lyrical content with profanity and negative messages.

With great artists like Lowkey representing the underground movement in the UK, spitting about real problems and trying to keep to what hip hop is really about, it is not as if true hip hop is dead.  Deeb, one of the speakers yesterday, talked about how hip hop was so important during the revolutions in Egypt, as the media was biased and controlled by the government, so to get real information about what is happening and be truly aware of the state of the nation it was down to hip hop to inform the masses and mobilise them.

In my opinion real hip hop is out there and available, but commercial is more easily accessible, easier to digest by the masses and is not as good quality as the real deal.  That said it does have its place as a weaning tool almost into real hip hop.  If the negativity perpetuated within hip hop could be removed and replaced with a more positive message, I think mainstream would be under less attack and more socially acceptable.  I have not really gone over a great deal of the arguments put forth here but when a video is available online I will add it here or it will be on the sites I have linked in this post.

Seven Deadly Sins Challenge Day 7: Pride

Pride is a sin which I am not sure should really be a sin in a way. I think it is good to have pride, but not to be egotistical with it.

I have pride in myself. I take pride in my appearance, and how I present myself to the world. I try to talk well and act maturely, I am trying to swear less and I always try to always dress well and never dress too messily when out in public, and as sad as it is, first impressions count and people’s perceptions of you mean an awful lot.

There are times when your pride is something which stands in your way, and that is when humility is important. I think I am a reasonably humble person, I will back down sometimes, but I can be very prideful and just argue for the hell of it and not back down simply for the sake of I don’t want to pretend that I am wrong, even though deep down I know that really I am.

In my opinion pride is something that everyone should have, but it should be balanced out with a share of humility. You should be proud of yourself, what you have down and what you are capable of, but show deference to those who can teach you something, and those who deserve your respect. Being humble doesn’t mean being submissive, it means that you understand that you are not the be all and end all of the human race, but an individual who will forever be learning to be a better person.

Another Great Gym Session x2!

Yesterday I went to the gym and I decided today I wanted to push myself further than normal on the bike.  I did my warm up (1 Km on the treadmill) then hopped over to the bike to set myself a challenge.  My personal best up to that point had been 15 Km and I was very proud to have been able to do that.  Yesterday I smashed that and went and did 20 Km, and not only that but I managed to keep my pace up the entire time at around 28Km/h which really made me happy.  It is normal for me to go too hard to start with and then have to slow down to that I am make my final goal, but this time I paced myself better and maintained I high average speed, while still beating my previous record.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sweating buckets while doing this, and it felt odd for me to be on the bike for around 40 minutes, but my gosh it was worth it! The feeling of satisfaction, coupled with the burn (I really love it! I don’t know whether this makes me odd or not but I really like it!) made me feel like a champion.  Post cycling I went and did my usual circuit on the machines, working on my back, shoulders and abdominals.

Today I was feeling very angry, frustrated and annoyed at some new information I had just got and I needed to get this aggression out of my system before it became self destructive.  I knew that being alone in my room would be counterproductive so I decided to walk to the gym and get exercise on.  This was the best idea I have had today yet.  I got there and got changed, and because of my anger I went hard.  I jumped on the treadmill and instead of my normal 1k, I only did 500m, but I sprinted it.  In retrospect this is probably a bad idea as I could potentially have hurt myself as I did not warm up or stretch in any way, but I did it and it felt good to feel out of breath.  Then I went on the bike and pumped out a 10K with an average of 35Km/h and that felt fantastic.  The feeling of powering through your barriers and finding your body is more capable than you know is so satisfying, it is a rush.

Chemically I think that exercise releases endorphins, which are the happy hormone.  I knew exercise makes you feel good but I never really sat down and thought about how good it really makes me feel. It makes me feel alive, it makes me feel powerful, it makes me feel unstoppable…until I run out of puff! I love going to the gym, it makes me feel so good about myself, now if I could afford to eat as well as I would like to and the things that I should, I would be a buffed up monster in no time.

Seven Deadly Sins Challenge Day 6: Envy

Envy is another sin I can relate to.  Envy of someone else’s possessions, whether that be someone has a nicer car than you, or someone’s position in life; a person being born in to a very wealthy family, is all very normal in my opinion. Envy is to want another person’s possessions, and wish them misfortune because of it.

People will always want what they cannot have.  I know I certainly want many things which I do not have in my life right now, but I know in the future I one day will own them.  Envy is more associated with wanting material objects that someone else has, but I think envy over the intangible possessions of an individual can be just as powerful.  People always want newer and nicer things, or bigger and better things, and when we see others with them; it is especially common in British culture, put people down for having something better than you.  Say someone got a new car, people would mock that individual saying things like “oh is that to make up for your lack of hardware downstairs?” or “overcompensating much” or even “yeah well, it doesn’t look that great and you look stupid in it as well”.  The put-down culture is fairly normal here, whereas in other places, success of something like that would be celebrated as it shows that yes, your hard work has paid off and yes, you deserve your success as you have worked for it.

Envy of intangible possessions, such as the fact that someone is in love, or perhaps that someone has found peace and is no longer in emotional turmoil, is just as valid a form of envy as tangible possession envy.  I think to want things such as to be loved and to be wanted are important to individuals, as we all want to feel that way, but I did study motivational theory, so it is building on what I have learnt while studying.

With relation to me, I am envious of people having possessions that I do not have, but I do not wish them ill because of it.  I do not necessarily agree with the fact that Kim Kardashian has all the money she has, especially where her “fame” is originally derived from, the same applies to many artists who I may not like their music, but they entertain others.  They have got theirs through their methods, and so I will get mine through my own methods.  My envy will be for those who are super rich, but i know that in my future I will get everything I need, and hopefully a little more of what I would like as well.

Seven Deadly Sins Challenge Day 5: Wrath

Wrath is another sin I am partial to at times, more so in my past, but still one of the more fun sins for me. I have a bit of an aggressive streak, acting violently, whether that be physically or with very horrible and slightly twisted thoughts, this would be me acting wrathfully.

In the purest sense of being wrathful would be vengeance for a wrongdoing committed against you or your nearest and dearest. In that way I am not wrathful as I have not physically hurt anyone intentionally in anger. I am more a punch a wall or hit the gym hard until it burns kind of guy. I am wrathful only in thought, but not in action.

As agressive as I can be at times I never really need to get to the point of having to do something physical like fighting someone as the situations are usually resolved through talking or in some cases never talking again. I am not an advocate of violence to solve problems, but I won’t deny that rush of blood when you are seeing red and letting it all out is not undeniably satisfying.

In my head it is a different story all together. A combination of having a very vivid and active imagination, combined with having seen my fair share of gore and violence through films and games has given me a plethora of ideas upon the subect of how to hurt someone if I wanted to. There are with tools, without tools, aliens, animals, nature, and of course good old Dexter style (Michael C Hall show, not genius child cartoon show). I’m pretty sure I’d be committed if someone could ever poke around my head and see what I am thinking, but the majority of people I know probably would be as well, so I wouldn’t be lonely!

I used to be a very angry individual, and anything could set me off, but as I have got older I have learn how to control it and take things a little easier. I think a combination of hormones and being a male made me like that back then, but as I have settled into being more comfortable with myself, so has my view upon the world and my place in it.

Seven Deadly Sins Challenge Day 4: Sloth

This deadly sin is another of the top 3 I believe I partake in a great deal, or at least used to considerably more in the past.  To be slothful is to be lazy, or to waste ones talents and abilities through apathy and indifference.  I did this a great deal before, but I am changing that and not being like this anymore, as it really is counter-productive.

I am a reasonably intelligent individual, but my slothfulness was and still partially is today one of my downfalls.  I have written about this before so link here to where I talk about intelligence and laziness.  When I put my mind to it I am a highly capable individual, but laziness combined with self confidence issues leads to a bad place, so I am walking away from that bad place (Craig David is now playing in my head…awesome!)  I am guilty of wasting my talents as it were, but this is changing and I am embracing my motivated side, pushing myself and making things happen.

With being slothful in the classical sense of being just lazy I can say I did this, and am still capable of this now when I have down time to do with as I please.  I can quite happily spend days just laying on the couch or in bed, watching films, playing games, eating junk food and doing sweet FA.  When I say days, I mean days.  At one point when I should have been revising and I felt procrastination was much more important, I put off revision for days watching films, catching up on a few TV series and playing Lego Guitar Hero until I completed it as I really wanted to unlock all of the songs.  You could call that motivated laziness in a way, just motivation directed towards the incorrect tasks!

I think I am a go getter by nature, but my slothful side chains me to the floor with more entertaining tasks and trivial bits and pieces that keep me from reaching my true potential and really getting my nose down to the grindstone.  These shackles are being loosened and removed and this sin I indulged in greatly before, less so now, will eventually be removed and I shall break free from it all together very soon.

Seven Deadly Sins Challenge Day 3: Greed

This sin is one I can partially relate to. Greed in the context of the seven deadly sins refers to a greed for money, power and status. I can safely say that in one sense I am very greedy when it comes to money, I could always do with a bit more, but on the other hand I love to buy things for other people and share my wealth when I have it with my friends and family.

When it comes to money I will work like a dog to get it if necessary. I have been known to do 60 hour weeks for weeks on end, overnight shifts, 18 days in a row and 4 shifts in 2 days once to earn as much as I could. When I get that money though it is so much more fun to pay for dinner with family, or go and buy drinks with friends, or just a surprise gift for someone to see them smile is so much better than hoarding it and never spending it. I’m all for saving, but when you have that little bit extra disposable income at the end of the month and don’t want to save it, splashing out on others feels fantastic.

With greed in the sense of power and status, I can say yes I would like more power and status, but I am not greedy about it. I am willing to share power with someone as other people’s opinions can be better than my own, especially if they are more knowledgeable than I. Sharing a status is fine with me as well, as I am pro working in group. I perform my best when I do group work, always have and probably always will. I generally like people so sharing knowledge to help us all get ahead is fine with me, and I am definitely not one to hog the limelight or pretend an idea is mine to get a pat on the head. Dishonesty is not something I approve, and I try to avoid it as much as possible.

I would say I am greedy in the context of wanting more for myself, but it is not for completely selfish purposes of just getting myself ahead. I am greedy so that when I can, I can help out those around me, and treat those who are near and dear to me. It is a little warped, but it is me.

Seven Deadly Sins Challenge: Breaking My Deal

Well we should be on day 3 here but the problem is I am not at home. I could write the next piece from my phone like this one but I will not have extended access to a PC or laptop to read about and write my opinion properly. When I get back home I will carry on with the challenge and finish it properly.

I am a little disappointed in myself for this but this was poor planning on my part. If I had chosen to start it next week this problem more than likely wouldn’t have arisen, but plans change and one must be fluid and flexible to get by in life.

Thanks for your understanding Miss Internet and see you very soon.

Seven Deadly Sins Challenge Day 2: Gluttony

Gluttony is probably the sin which I partake in the least.  It is about partaking in something to the point of over-indulgence, mainly in reference to food.

I tend not to over eat, if anything I am more prone to under-eating.  When it has come to competitions with my friends on who can eat the most, I am most likely to be one of the people who cannot eat a great deal, and on some occasions been beaten by girls! I swear some of them must have hollow legs though as they ate like two people yet were really slim and not at all overweight…damn them and their high metabolisms!

Of the seven sins which I will be writing about I think this will be the one I have the least personal experience with, thus will not really be able to link it to myself in any way.  I know people who eat a great deal, but that is not through gluttony, more that they are bulky individuals who eat that much purely to sustain their larger than normal muscular bodies and active lifestyles.

The YouTube channel EpicMealTime could be the closest thing to gluttony in my life, but in reality even though they may act gluttonously, they are actually the opposite in their eating.  EpicMealTime put some insanely large and outrageous meals together and the members of this group then go on camera and savagely consume as much as they can for the cameras.  When the cameras are off, they actually have other friends around who they share the food with and make a gathering of it, eating, drinking and laughing together.  So though their videos may depict them in a gluttonous light, they are actually sharing, caring guys.

All in all, gluttony is not a sin I can really relate to, but there are certainly gluttonous individuals out there who do eat more than necessary and the effects of parking in more than you should are fairly obvious, on the outside and the inside.

Seven Deadly Sins Challenge Day 1: Lust

Of the seven sins, I feel that this is one of the top three that I indulge in.  Lust is about wanting something more than necessary.  It can take many forms like a lust for knowledge, or a lust for adventure, but it is mostly associated with a lust for all things sexual, and that is what I am going to explore.   I see myself as a fairly highly charged young man, and I suspect like many 23 year old males I have thoughts involving the opposite sex and they aren’t always that I want to go and hold hands and skip through a field of flowers in the countryside!

I am very much attracted to women, I think that they are pretty damn amazing, if infuriating at times.  I most definitely appreciate the female form, but there are certain things that really draw me in when it comes to admiring what I can see.  This varies a great deal, as I have a wide taste when it comes to what I like, but currently I am infatuated with blue eyes.  Women with blue eyes seem to just draw me in like a tractor beam, I just cannot control it.  Add to that a nice pair of legs and a cute bum and I am putty in your hands.  I realise this is turning into a “What I like on a woman” post so I shall get back to my main point.

When I see women I will admit that sometimes I go “Yeah, I would” in my head.  It is not something I am proud of or I am boasting about, it is something I simply do.  When it comes to certain people, past and present, lust is definitely a word which would seem appropriate.  I crave their touch, their voice, conversation and physical time with them, and other things besides that.  I feel like it is almost an addiction and I really don’t like being away from them.  This sounds really staker-ish, creepy and needy when I am writing it down, but seems much nicer in my head!!

Lust could also apply to how I feel about certain famous people I see and all I can think is “Phwaaarrrr”.  This list of people includes but is not limited to Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Emma Watson, Emma Stone, Kaley Cuocu, Stana Katic and Nicole Scherzinger.  I don’t go to their houses and peep through their windows but I do lust after them and would probably just lose the ability to talk if I ever met them.

All in all I don’t feel lust is that terrible in the grand scale of sins, so long as you have control over it and it isn’t manifested in you following people everywhere and forcing yourselves upon them.  With today’s celebrity society there is a fair amount of lust in the general public to know about their lives and everyday movements, it has almost become a normal part of life to last after the lives we want or the things we would like.  Lust is not really a sin in my eyes, but I am sure my mind could be changed.