Written by: BluRum13
The creation of my latest album INVERTED took me all over Europe and Australia to find inspiration and flavour. In visiting these places, I was pleased to learn how well-received hip-hop was among such vastly different cultures. Where I grew up, hip-hop was first perceived as this untouchable thing created by Black Americans. No, hip-hop is alive and well in these cities that have reached so far from the days of the God Father Kool Herc and the Bronx. It’s refreshing to know however that I can travel the world and find the culture I embrace so loving and prevalent. Here are my Top 5 countries where the elements of hip-hop are alive! Each one contributed greatly to the album.
#5 – Switzerland: Geneva, Aral, Bern
Coming in at number 5, is the visual art element the writers also known as graffiti artists, or bombers, not to be confused with the taggers who simply just write their stylized name for notoriety. I’m talking about the artists like Phaze 2 and Banksy. A Mecca for the travelling graffer making his mark, many Swiss cities are hotbeds of hip-hop art. Whether Geneva, Aral, Or Bern, there are endless train car walls full of innovative graphics that reflect a colourful underground culture emerging over the white-grey sea of clinical concrete. There is beautiful art and innovative design here – prepare your colour palate for an overdose as you cruise the spray-painted Swiss underland.
#4 – Germany: Berlin
Consistently hosting the World Beat Box Championship for 5 years, Berlin is a phenom in this art forum where the competitive platform really pushes the skill to its heights. Heavyweights like Babeli and Robeat are top contenders for the ever-slippery World title. Also, some of the best Hip-hop shopping outside of New York City is found in Berlin… Factory outlets, “Design your own,” and “one-of-a-kind” shops make Berlin a serious hip-hop clothing destination.
#3 – Russia: Moscow
Not exactly Europe, but still “representing” at number 3, Russia, hosts some of the most incredible b-boying (breakdancing, for the uninitiated) seen this century. Moscow has hosted its share of b-boy championships, including the RedBull B-Boy Championship in 2011. This element of hip-hop culture is authentically represented here down to style and dress. The b-boying essentials – Beat Street and Wild style – are well known among this crew. Russia also has some of the most diverse nightlife, from elite clubs to illegal 24-hour warehouse parties. Though not very popular these days for other reasons, Russia remains a must stop-and-check-it place for its b-boy scene.
#2 – France: Paris, Lyon
France comes in at number 2 as in 2 turntables, although turntablism has grown tremendously over the last decade or so with names like Q-Bert and Rock Raider pushing it to commercial visibility and organizations like the ITF (International Turntable Federation) insuring there is a forum in which the craft can grow. Paris and Lyon both host competition and incorporate the culture in the many varieties of all nightclubs. CTC the French turntable crew, is bound to be performing their own brand of record manipulation. This however does not exclude the amazing graffiti exhibitions in small galleries, Hip-hop clubs, and underground venues. Paris especially embraces this music culture and all it stands for.
#1 – UK: London
Number one on this list is… England… yes, specifically London. There has been a hip hop scene almost as long as France, with ‘80’s groups like Stereo MCs and Mad Ethnikz, and don’t forget Mr.Mixx who later left the UK to Join Luke of the Too Live Crew. London has it all from full train graff, to b-boy culture, to great hiphop producers and amazing emcees and DJs. Run DMC did their collaboration here with the Rolling Stones. London also has some of the freshest gear you can find. You can experience a lot of what hip hop culture is and see it through the eyes of the islanders, whose history from language to industry, has been heavily influenced by other cultures.
BIO: Prodigious and prolific emcee James Sobers, known professionally as BluRum13, has had an iconic career as a solo artist and a collaborative artist. He’s released two solo albums, done over 1,000 shows, and worked with such luminaries as Us3, One Self, Reverse Engineering, Bullfrog, the Russian Percussion, Resin Dogs, Ez3kiel, Groundworks, True Ingredients, and The Funginears. His legacy is celebrated in St. Petersburg in the form of a mural immortalizing his likeness after BluRum13 toured the country with One Self.