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Hip hop, beyond flow

I remember a television program where they interviewed a group of artists who were emerging as leaders in the reggaeton genre, and the presenter asked the group: “What is reggaeton? flow?”.

Several answers were given that my memory does not remember, however, one I do not forget. One of the exponents, with a naive smile but very sure of himself, said: "The flow is…” and began to move one hand, her wrist, elbow and shoulder in succession, like a wave.

There is a variety of terms that are used to describe expressions related to the artistic and that characterize a way of manifesting or a certain technique. In the case of hip hop, some of these concepts are of Anglo-Saxon origin, due to the beginnings and development of this culture. However, in popular speech, many of these words are used without people being fully aware of their meaning, sometimes altering or impoverishing the idea they express.

What is flow, groove, break, beat? How to distinguish between different skills when comparing various artists? What does one have that the other doesn't: more flow, best lyrics, powerful beats, less groove?

On one side, flow —whose translation into Spanish is associated with flowing, marching, flowing, running—, musically it has a lot to do with the way a rapper, to cite an example, expresses his speech. This is closely related to a series of vocal techniques such as intonation, the duration and intensity of sounds, the projection and administration of air, the sense of time related to a complex natural metric from a poetry that preserves a writing discipline. All this, added to the sound timbre, the intention and the emotional link of the message that is transmitted, make up the exhibitor's own style during his interpretation. 

In the history of Cuban rap there are many examples of artists with a flow Very attractive, some names could be mentioned such as El Prosa, Ruzzo, Anderson, Funky, Poeta Lírico, and the groups EPG, Explosión Suprema, among many others that with their style have set the standard in the memory of insular hip hop. Although the flow is used to highlight qualities of the singer, it can be conditioned by the characteristics of the beat, understood in its jargon as background or background music. Similarly, in allusion to one of its meanings (beat), digital composition and recording programs use this term to indicate and mark the tempo/rhythm of the work or what many call the speed of the instrumental, and it is measured in BPM (beats per minute).

The movement that causes beat also determined by groove, which represents the variations of time and intensity between the elements of the piece. By alternating rhythms, delaying and advancing notes, some strong, others weak, musical performance and listening become more interesting. From this point, a difference can be established between works programmed exclusively in software and those performed by instrumentalists, the latter taking on a lot of life since an interpreter will never be as analytical and precisely precise in its execution as a computer, although the search for perfection , through the practical mastery of an instrument, recreates the pleasant inaccuracies that delight our auditory perception. 

This is how the way of enjoying music was revolutionized years ago, at the hands of DJs, when they began to repeat musical sections where generally only the drums and, on some occasions, the bass were heard. The best cuts or breaks They had the most striking grooves, being reproduced cyclically the same (loops), and forming a kind of attraction that led to the emergence of new beats

The ear and listening process are intuitive, yet educable. Learning to decipher the skills and structures that make up the most complex techniques of hip hop culture (sometimes seemingly easy) can become quite a subject. See the case of singers, rappers or MCs (Masters of Ceremony), who use the microphone to communicate.

It happens that sometimes there are creators who still dominate the flow and having an interesting speech, they do not conquer the audiences. How can it be possible, if they have suggestive lyrics, a correct rhythm and a good intonation (although often basic)? Well, it is because most of the urban artists who stand out from the rest also have a good development of communication, both from the psychology applied to the lyrics and from the ways of recording and performing their music live, with which they they get an extra to the previously described knowledge. Examples of musicians who have deciphered these skills are Papo Record and Rxnde Akozta, to name a couple, and it is a fundamental aspect that is not self-taught in all cases.

At the same time, the quality of the speech is related to the vocal education of the performer, which is rarely mentioned in urban music. Rap can become a self-instructed exercise but there are practices that allow us to broadcast better. For example: knowing how to improve and manipulate the use of the resonance system that gives the voice its color, timbre, richness and amplitude; train costodiaphragmatic breathing, as well as diction, articulation, and many other experiences that are cultivated including vocal health, as is the case with announcers, actors, and other voice professionals. Pabelo, from the Ley de Thalion group, is a good example to illustrate all this.

However, the most relevant urban exponents have not only known how to make use of the oral and written language, but gestural, graphic and visual, such as clothing, hair and other symbols. Of course, in certain degrees of eminent popularity, the communication variables can be directed from and towards a business point of view, integrating personal selling, advertising, promotion, marketing, sponsorship and public relations. 

As a consequence, this generates a role model among those creators who yearn to indulge in renown and notoriety, personalizing patterns and a belief system around the idealized successful artist. Although it is true that many famous virtuosos "have not gone to school" to achieve their goals, it is also true that the overcoming and education of the subject in which a subject wants to specialize are necessary to raise the competencies of each one. , whether in business, production or any of the areas that affects the quality of a designed product. 

Today there are theses, databases, conferences, books and articles that reveal the transformative nature of hip hop as a sociocultural phenomenon. That is why it is important to know and educate ourselves on its elements, beyond what is seen and what is heard, in order to establish a better relationship with the public and be more complete artists. 

Raydel Obrador Evora (Fugitive) More posts

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