Hip-hop exploration 

Workshop teaches the roots of hip-hop

What: Ndidi Cascade hip hop workshop

When: Thursday, Jan. 5, 8:30 p.m.

Where: MY Millennium Place

Tickets: $5 for members, $7 for non-members

Try your thoughts at a different beat with the upcoming hip hop/spoken word workshop Thursday, Jan. 5 at 8:30 p.m. at MY Millennium Place as part of the LUNA (Late and Unique Nighttime Alternatives) 2006 program.

Move past the glossy, gangster rap of mainstream listening, and delve into the historical roots of hip hop with Cassandra "Ndidi Cascade" Onyejikwe.

"If you are listening to pop culture hip hop, you are only getting one side of it," Ndidi Cascade said. "Not only will (participants) learn how to express themselves, but they will also learn the art of rhyming, writing and performing."

She explained hip hop originally emerged from African aural traditions and then eventually found its way onto the streets of New York.

"Different cultural backgrounds living in poverty came together and set up big sound systems in the park and had big dance parities," she said. "The emcee would give a toast to the crowd, and the toasting turned into rapping."

She said turntabling, breakdancing and graffiti also played a huge role in hop hop culture, giving impoverished minority cultures a voice and identity through hip hop.

Cascade, a Canadian with a rich multi-cultural background of Nigerian, Italian and Irish heritage, wishes to help others discover the creative outlet hip hop provides through her workshops.

The VanCity hip-hop artist is no stranger to the emcee scene. Over the past 10 years, she’s shared stages with Femi Kuti, Abstract Rude, Michael Franti, Kelis, K-os, Prevail of Swollen Members, Kardinal Offishall and Michie Mee, just to name a few.

She switched from performing to teaching decks two years ago when she realized the effects of the materialistic/misogynistic nature of mainstream hip hop on impressionable young fans who she wanted to empower through true hip hop traditions.

"Kids often find their identity through pop culture," she said. "So, why not use hip hop in a constructive way to teach them about lyrical writing and looking at the things that are happening in their community and life."

The popularity of Cascade’s workshops led to classes being expanded to adult students. Her workshops explore the five elements of hip hop, including the history of hip hop, rapping writing, performing, basic breakdancing and socially-responsible graffiti.

"We will look at the history of hip hop, the state of hip hop today and how it applies to our lives," Cascade said.

Whether a hip-hop regular or never-even-owned-a-hip-hop-album music fan, Cascade said everyone will be writing his or her own raps and freestyling by the end of the evening.

"You’ll play around and think off the top of your head doing some freestyling and have a lot of fun and party it up," she said. "Hip hop is healthy self expression."

Tickets are $5 for LUNA members (ages 18-29) and $7 for non-members. Limited space. Workshop starts at 8:30 p.m.


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