DJ Lobito talks to Time Out about how MCs, DJs, break-dancers and graffiti artists are saving lives in Haiti
Hip-hop’s had a bad rep for years, the poor thing. In the late ’80s-to-mid ’90s it was because of the gangsta rappers who made the genre synonymous with guns and violence. And for the last 15 years or so it’s been the turn of the bling rappers who’ve made it – in the public eye, at least – all about money and sex. But now local boys DJ Lobito, DJ Solo and Jibberish are trying to turn that around with a series of nights that will show the diversity of hip-hop music and the various elements of hip-hop culture.
But their first night – launched under the Zulu Nation banner owned by pioneering DJ Afrika Bambaataa – is hoping to do much more than just that. This first edition will also help out victims of the Haiti earthquake by donating all of the night’s proceedings to Cure International, a charity that is currently funding a team of doctors in the country as well as a support hospital in the Dominican Republic.
It’s a reflection of both the community-minded origins of hip-hop music and the kind of spirit that the Zulu Nation nights aim to foster in the city. DJ Lobito explains: ‘After relocating here last year [from the UK, where he’d been working], I found that most people only knew about the commercial side of hip-hop, with all the consumerism, materialism and other negative connotations that implies. I thought it was important to focus on the positive origins of the genre – it was used as a way to bring together communities and stop gang violence. So I’ve spent the last few months reaching out to DJs, MCs, graffiti artists and b-boys in the region to help build a real hip-hop community.’
Which is all very well and good, but what does it mean for you, the reader? Well in terms of Hip-Hop for Haiti, it means a night of surprisingly eclectic music. ‘It’s important to break down this pre-conception of hip-hop that people have,’ says Lobito. ‘You’re going to hear music from across the spectrum, from Latin music to funk to old-school hip-hop and even some jazz, disco or afrobeat. Anything that could have an MC doing his thing over it. It’s a lot broader than what you hear on MTV.’ Lobito also promises to represent the other classic elements of hip-hop: Jibberish will be MCing on the night, breakdancing (or b-boy) battles will take place on the dancefloor and there will also be graffiti artwork being made on the fly.
There is also, says, Lobito, a fifth part to the proceedings. ‘Zulu Nation says the fifth element of hip-hop is knowledge, and that’s what ties everything together. The commercial side of things has broken off and ignored some elements of the culture. We’re bringing it all back together.’
The three elements
Say hello to your hosts for this night of rhymes, beats and dance moves.
Jibberish Hip-Hop for Haiti’s MC, Jibberish, has been on the Dubai scene for four years now and is in intelligent hip-hop group Diligent Thought with DJ Solo. He’ll be keeping the crowd hyped and providing rhymes on the night. To hear him in action, see myspace.com/diligentthought.
DJ Lobito A breaks specialist, Lobito will be providing music for the night’s b-boys to breakdance to. He’s done his time on the London circuit and has played alongside De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Slick Rick, KRS-One and more. For more, see facebook.com/BreakDjLobito.
DJ Solo Solo’s skills with a turntable and eclectic musical tastes (he plays everything from soul and funk to electro and hip-hop) earned him a nomination for best local DJ at Time Out’s recent nightlife awards. He’s also the official DJ for the Rage skate clothing line. He’s pictured right. For more on Solo, including his radio show, see facebook.com/DjSolo.Live.