Personal experience, in any endeavour, is golden.
One of my biggest discoveries was realising that there are effective ways to express ourselves without words. You can express yourself by channelling your energy into something productive and meaningful. Most likely into something physical and artistic. I have Hip Hop culture to thank for this realisation.
Thinking back to how I got introduced to Hip Hop - it’s a plain story. To summarise in one sentence: I had nothing to do, found out about a Breaking (proper name for Breakdancing) class in Scotland, and decided to go along and see what it’s like. That was about 10 years ago.
Little did I know that my life after that would change drastically.
A way to change lives
To start, I had zero confidence as a teenager. Due to a severe stutter, I found it hard to communicate with others. As a result, my anxieties went through the roof.
It was only through engaging in Hip Hop, and the culture that surrounds it, that I found a way to release any negative energy I had.
Over time this gave me mental clarity, confidence, a new sense of self, and fluent speech. Fast forward to today and I’m on a mission to improve the mental health of 100,000 young people.
YoungMinds UK claim that over 80,000 UK youths are severely depressed.
These numbers must drop – but how?
To me, Hip Hop is the answer. It’s an uncommon belief that it can be of great benefit to people’s health & wellbeing. Most likely due to mainstream media interpretations.
However, through my own personal travels (and research as a Winston Churchill Fellow) I see it as a great necessity in society today. Underappreciated and undervalued as a way of expression and unlimited creativity.
Proficiency in any skill leads to confidence. In Hip Hop there are 4 main elements/outlets of expression: Breaking, DJing, MCing (Rapping), and Writing (Graffiti). All perceived to be difficult to do but are easier to learn that we think. Plus, with competitive battles being an integral part of Hip Hop, your skills are always tested. Which is a great way to improve, and leads to building confidence.
Alleviates anxieties and improves social skills
Hip Hop is a social culture which has roots in parties and community events. Its multicultural ethos allows for a sense of belonging between people of all ages & ethnicities. This is extremely important to consider. Lack of belonging has been identified as a cause of male suicide.
Hip Hop offers the opportunity to escape current struggles in life. A sentiment that rings true from countless people I’ve met, from different parts of the world, at various cultural events & festivals. It’s also a highly effective coping mechanism.
In addition, it’s also a creative culture. With creative thinking being a core component in every element. A highly sought skill that 82% of US college-educated professionals wish they developed as students (Source: Creativity At Work).
All in all, there is a lot to gain from engaging in Hip Hop. It has allowed me to travel and experience life in ways I never imagined. When you immerse yourself in the culture, and its associated events, you will feel a positive change.
Thanks for reading! Tell me what you think of this article. I’m on Twitter @chazb and Instagram as ChazBonnar.