Hip Hop Theatre and The Highjacker
I call Gill Scott Heron today a couple of times. I’m making a documentary on the man and the legend for BBC. The last time we met was ten years ago at his home in Harlem for a documentary on The Last Poets which I made for BBC radio Four. Poetry and hip hop have the same DNA and it is written from the code of these two dynamics.
At about noon I buzz Morganics, we hire a couple of bikes. There’s a great bikeroute here in Vancouver, along the sea wall and up into Stanley park where thegreat cedar trees are. These cedars are the ones that make the totems of firstnation peoples.
We spend the day talking of the history of Hip hop theatre and beatbox. Morganics is a practitioner of both. You can count the innovative and ground breaking beatboxer’s and hip hop theatre practitioners on two hands. There are many who repeat what has gone before. “it is from the black community” says Morganics a white Australian “but that doesn’t mean white people can’t do it”. I suppose it is like Jazz in that respect.
He works with indigenous communities in Australia and Africa , spreading the word of beatboxing to communities ravaged by alcoholism and self destruction. It is here that Morganics resolves the development of hip hop and connects it to new roots, his own and theirs. It is clear to see the relationship, the through line, with the art, it’s history, and the people and himself.
His works stretches from the interior of Australia to MIA to Jay Z. And it is true that Hip Hop Theatre practitioners outside of America are the ones that have stimulated itsgrowth in America, particularly New York. There are three people who stand outin Hip Hop Theatre from outside of America and they are Jonzi D, Benji Reid and Morganics.
Morganics should have been at the southbank centre with The Black Arm Band a while ago and knows of fellow artist in residence Rafael Bonachella who is now artistic director of Sydney dance company at Sydney Opera House where Morganics does alot of work. I hear that Rafaella is the talk of the town in Sydney. It is good to know the power ofThe artists in residence is so international. Here’s myself at The Canada Olympiad andRafaella in The Sydney Opera House, Gauri Sharma travelling across India, The Cape Farewell team in the Arctic, Bellowhead tearing it up on tour and Shlomo making tidal wave like rhythms to international audiences.
My friend, the South African Hip Hop artist Kabomo vilakazi chats to me on facebook. He was hijacked in Jo’burg at the traffic lights. He was returning from a gig. Hiscomputer was stolen. It had his next book of poetry inside it. And he didn’t back up. Man, like knowing your history, we artsits must back up. There’s hundreds of writers whose computers have been stolen. Whole pieces of art , some great work by great authors lost in the thiefs hands. We must back up our work.