Monday, August 4, 2014
Friday, June 20, 2014
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Begintro
Chapter 2: What is Hiphop: The Importance of Fragmented Views
Chapter 3: Joining Perspectives (what is the need for...)
Chapter 4: History of Hiphop Consciousness Movements
Zulu Nation, HEAL, STV, Temple of Hiphop, RBG Fit Club
Chapter 5: Integral Hiphop
Internal and External Hiphop
AQAL: lines, levels, stages, states, types
3 bodies: gross, subtle, causal
Chapter 6: Turning the Mind
Clarifying intentions, motivations
Hiphop and Non Duality
Hiphop as Nature
The Three Faces of Hiphop, God, Spirit, Buddha Nature
History of Hiphop Cultural Awareness
Ego/self identity development and Hiphop
Perspectives: entertainment, education, enlightenment (worldview)
Pre/Trans Fallacy: elevationist, reductionist and integralist perspectives
Mainstream and/or Underground
The Myth of The Positive, Romanticism and Who Fucked Up Hiphop
The Best: A Stage Affair
Evaluating Art: 5 perspectives
Chapter 7: Hiphop As Deep Science: Post Metaphysics
Integral Methodological Pluralism - How to Study Hiphop: 4 elements, 3 perspectives, 2 zones, 1 aim
Chapter 8: Hiphop As Life Art
Elements as Skillful Means: What does it all mean?
Utilizing the elements to increase self awareness, compassion and wisdom
Growth through AQAL: lines, levels, stages, states, types
The 3 universal prescriptions
Bboy as scholar spiritual warrior
Chapter 9: Graffiti
Chapter 10: Bboying
Chapter 11: DJ/Producer
Chapter 12: Emcee
Chapter 13: Freestyling as Cultivating Presence, Genuineness and Authentic Discourse
Chapter 14: Integral Hiphop Life Practice
Chapter 15: Knowledge, wisdom, peace, love and unity i.e Hiphop/spirit
Contentment: a bad word?
Chapter 16: Integral Hiphop: Implications for Psychology
The need for an integrated perspective; unaddressed quadrants
The need for bboy therapists
Chapter 17: ....
Chapter Two pt. 1
Chapter Two: What Is Hiphop. The Importance of Fragmented Views
Hiphop has always been a very pure thing to me. No matter how sullied by wack emcees, biters, crabs, toys or the media it seemed to be, for me it has always been an unstoppable machine of creating joy, togetherness and fun.
I got into Hiphop in the early 80's when Hiphop first turned the world upside down with its new dances, rebellious graffiti art, wild style of dress, soulful samples and brazen emcees. I couldn't bboy to save my life. When I was 8 my mom took my sister and I to breakdancing lessons. Real Breakin 1 stuff. My six step was more like a three step and I eventually ended up watching from the sidelines. Too young to buy albums and living in Prince Georges County a suburb outside of Washington DC, I had little access to Hiphop outside of my friends and the radio. The first rhyme I remember and can still kick to this day was Newcleus's Jam-On-It. Cozmo D's verse in particular was my joint:
"(Said Superman had come to town to see who he could rock)
(He blew away every crew he faced until he reached our block)
(His speakers were three stories high with woofers made of steel)
(And when we boys sit outside, he said "I boom for real")
He said, "I'm faster than a speedin' bullet when I'm on the set
I don't need no fans to cool my amps, I just use my super breath
I could fly three times around the world without missin' a beat
I socialize with X-ray eyes, and ladies think it's sweet
(And then he turned his power on and the ground began to move)
(And all the buildings for miles around were swayin' to the groove)
(And just when he had fooled the crowd and swore he won the fight)
We rocked his butt with a 12 inch cut called Disco Kryptonite
Well, Superman looked up at me, he said, "You rock so naturally"
I said now that you've learned the deal, let me tell you why I'm so for real
I'm Cozmo D from outer space, I came to rock the human race
I do it right, cause I can't do it wrong
That's why the whole world is singin' this song
This dude just took out Superman! Ever since I was hooked on rhymes and began to listen more intently to lyrics. Hiphop artists became my heroes, Salt N Pepa, Slick Rick, Doug E Fresh (who I venerate because of his "dice roll" beatbox), BDP, X Clan, Whodini, UTFO, The Fat Boys, Roxanne, Dana Dane, 3rd Bass, A Tribe Called Quest, NWA, De La Soul, Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock, LL Cool J....I could go on for days. In the mid 80's Video Music Jukebox (a video music service that let you call in and request the video you wanted to see) was my teacher as was a radio show hosted by a DJ named Big Brother Conan that could only be heard if you tuned the radio juuuuuust right. I also fell in love with djing, in particular scratching which first became a fascination after hearing cutting by DJ Richie Rich on 3rd Bass's first album, The Cactus Album. I began to emulate the scratching in my head and then using my teeth would figure out how moving the record forward or backwards made a particular sound. Another good tool for scratch practice was a pencil. During class I would practice moving the pencil back and forth on the edge of my desk until it sounded like I was a pro. Nobody's records were safe. I remember practicing scratching my friend Hashim's Led Zeppelin Kashmere and Run DMC's Its Tricky records until they were barely playable. In 1991 I got my first turntables (Technics B200's that weren't made for scratching at all). I used wax paper for slip mats and a rubber band, pennies and nickels to weigh down the shell head) from a kid named Trader James who would barter his junk for yours. After buying a 2 Channel mixer for $6.00 from my friend Boosie and asking my handy Uncle Mitch to solder some wires for me, I had my first set up. I practiced djing everyday transferring the scratches in my head to the turntable. For records I would steal my Dad's jazz albums and use my lunch money to catch the subway to P Street Records in DC to buy the latest hits. I practiced for hours everyday for years until I got the basics of mixing and cutting records. Around this time I also started writing rhymes and freestyling. Listening to instrumentals over and over again helped me to find that I had something to say. When I first started rhyming it was others lyrics. Soon I learned that what was more important was to learn style, or how and where to place words. In 1996 I bought my first piece of production equipment, an ASR-10 and started making beats. I never wanted to be famous or an entertainer, what was more important was the sampling of sound and finding the unheard to play it for others. My goal was curation and preservation of music that had been forgotten about. It was what my favorite producers did; find rare music, sample and play it. I used to love reading the liner notes of albums where the artist would tell you who they sampled. Paying homage to the musical ancestors doesn't happen as much anymore. Over the years, collecting records and sampling became (and still is) an obsession for me and I can find no greater tribute to my elders than reintroducing their music to the world. These are just my formative Hiphop experiences and since the mid nineties, I've continued to experiment with writing, freestyling, djing and producing in ways that I feel honor and advance Hiphop culture.
I flew home from Amsterdam on August 1st, 2000 still processing the profundity of the Ayahuasca experience. I couldn't clearly capture everything that happened but a few unshakable truisms stayed with me.
1.) "Hiphop" did not exist like I thought it did, 2.) the divine/spirit/nature/essence etc. was not only not separate from Hiphop but was an intimate and important player in understanding and practicing Hiphop, 3.) that I needed to know the divine in order to truly know Hiphop. 4.) because I see Hiphop as a tool of self understanding, that Hiphop is an effective tool of a means of realizing the divine.
The first week after Amsterdam I thought heavily about how to live these truths and my mind flashed back to what I learned in my recent Philosophy class. There are various paths to the divine, all divine paths have steps, levels of development that progressively introduce you to the source of ones personal suffering (usually thought to be the self/ego), how to transcend the self in order to see self in other/self as other, this leads to treating others with kindness and not as separate beings and eventually introduces you to the nature of all things as fundamentally being you, others and all things. The experience of seeing oneself as all things, in all things will ever berate throughout ones family, community, nation and world eventually leading to mass enlightenment. These "laws" if you can call them that, are familiar to most of the worlds religious traditions. Also familiar to most of the worlds traditions are the practices of meditation, prayer and contemplation, each of which serve a different purpose and introduce a particular perspective of the divine. Whatever path I chose should have those components: levels, progressive stages, ego transcendence, cultivating compassion, introduction to ones nature, sharing with and waking up beings to their nature.
Buddhism always rang true to me. My sophomore year in high school I read a story about a Buddhist monk who when trapped in the mountains of the Himalayas conducted a practice that allowed him to generate heat to keep him warm. He brought to mind the image of a fire and imagined it inside his belly. I tried repeating this practice to no avail. In 1991 I was taught how to meditate by my Judo Instructor, Steve Seaquist. We would meditate after every Judo class and then I would go home and practice by myself in my room. I'd describe those early experiences as letting my mind blank out. The instructions I was given were to sit zazen (Zen Buddhist) style, hands folded in my lap, thumbs touching and then to let my mind focus on the faintest sound in my surroundings. When my mind wandered I was to bring my attention back to the sound. I did this 3-4 times a week for four years until I went to college and started partying. It wasn't until taking the class in Amsterdam that I remembered how inviting and interesting Buddhism was. I began searching for a Buddhist center to practice meditation the first week of August, 2000. The first place I found, a Kadampa Buddhist center was closed and I went to the second listing that came up on the internet, the Shambhala Buddhist Meditation Center.
Ken Wilber, an American philosopher and whose book The Integral Ken Wilber I read in Amsterdam had a profound impact on me. Ken's claim to fame was being able to synthesize various systems of development; physical, mental, cognitive, emotional, moral, spiritual (more than 100 in all) into a map or a way to not only show how they were all connected (and important) but how to traverse them in a way that would produce the most growth possible. I wanted to grow, badly. In my mind I've always envisioned myself as more than the meek, fearful and misguided person that I thought myself to be. In my mind I was a good and decent man. Stories of mystics who were able to perform magical feats of levitation, meditate endlessly and achieve peace beyond words were intriguing but what was more intriguing is that they were usually normal people who one day committed themselves to finding out the truth about themselves and the world and found it. I wanted to be like them. Ken seemed like an American mystic. He meditated four hours a day, worked out, did yoga and had a seemingly endless intellect. I kept thinking about one thing he said in his book, The Integral Ken Wilber. He described himself as a "practicing Buddhist" meaning that he didn't proclaim Buddhism as his only path but felt it was the path that spoke the most to him. He felt that Buddhism unlike other traditions, had done the most to clearly describe the condition of human suffering and the way out. Buddhism provided the best map of the human mind and had the best track record of providing experiential evidence through repeating the practice of meditation for 2500 years.
What I was looking to do was to not only become an ardent spiritual practitioner, but also to find ways to use methods that didn't involve me having to deny the existence of the divine in my everyday life. I wanted to find the sacred in the secular; not as an intellectual exploit but because it was my experience. Understanding Hiphop from a "spiritual" perspective caused a great deal of inner conflict. What is Hiphop now, versus what I used to think it was? What were its origins? What do the elements of Hiphop have to do with spirituality? Is Hiphop a religion? Can it be used as a tool of growth? What are Hiphoppers seeking?
Without question when most people hear the word Hiphop they think music. And why shouldn't they? Historically Hiphop has garnered attention due to its provocative lyrics over recognizable repetitive beats. Even if you asked the truest of Hiphop heads about what Hiphop is or isn't, they'd talk your ear off about their favorite albums and rappers, not about Futura 2000, The Rock Steady Crew or DJ Q-Bert. Hiphop is largely created by artists and embraced by fans as a form of entertainment and it has been since its inception. To the purist this is a bad thing, but the reality is that it has been this way since the days of Cold Crush Brothers and Afrika Bambaataa. Hiphop as a form of musical entertainment serves many masters: for many it was and is a way out of poverty and and the false hopes of an unreachable American dream; It's a multibillion dollar industry that makes record executives exponentially more money than the artists that work for it; its a way for cultural voyeurists and exhibitionists to get their rocks off; its a way to display talent and receive validation. It's all about the ego baby. TV, radio and the internet all reinforce the message that Hiphop is a form of music, devoid of other elements or any psychological or spiritual depth.
Peace to whoever reads this.
I've been working on a book on and off for the past 15 years and decided that now is a good time to be "on". I've been struggling lately with some personal challenges and writing about Hiphop and Spirituality brings me out of whatever funk I find myself in.
This is the first part of Chapter One, titled Begintro. Enjoy.
Chapter One: Begintro
In the year 2000 I was an undergraduate student at Towson University trying to bring an end to a tumultuous 5 1/2 year Bachelors Degree program in Sociology. Fortunately I still had a couple of electives to finish up so I looked into some classes in the Philosophy Department. I could've taken Bowling 101 or Contemporary Peruvian Basket Weaving but I was at a point in my life where I needed some blend of freedom and pragmatism. I decided that I would take a class on self hypnosis, meditation and yoga. I also remembered that my friend Jeremy had taken a class with the same professor the year before in Amsterdam, Holland. He described the class as a whole as part coffee shop adventure, part Hiphop head fantasy and part educationally enlightening. Who could resist? Especially a class named the Philosophy of Addiction, Co-Dependence and Self Liberation!
After taking care of the requisite planning and financial burden of a month long trip to Europe I was off to Holland. If you've never been to Amsterdam I'm sure you've heard the stories of coffee shops offering the best weed in the world, the sanctioned prostitution, blah blah blah...all the stuff the average American tourist does. But after the first few days, that grew to be the norm and it was all pretty tame. To me the real beauty of Amsterdam is its ability to create a city that allows for different beliefs and practices to coexist peacefully. When I walked down the straats (street in Dutch...cause I'm cultured) I would pass Buddhist temples, brothels, hotels, record stores, coffee shops, heroin needle dispensaries, artist squatter communes and professional offices sometimes all on the same block.
The class was held in a hostel in Vonndelpark, one of the biggest parks in Amsterdam where we were also staying. Every morning we would wake up, eat a horrible breakfast and attend class for two hours. It was during this class that I was introduced to the teachings of Ken Wilber, Carl Jung, The Enneagram, Michaels Overleaves, as well as the various developmental structures of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.
After the class we were free to roam around the city at our leisure for the next 22 hours. The idea was to explore theories about the self and then go into the dynamic city of Amsterdam to explore who that self is when presented with a multitude of options of how to be. Amsterdam was the perfect choice for this experiment. I was told by my professors that on the last day of class we were offered to take part in a ceremony called Ayahuasca which involved taking a very powerful hallucinogenic potion that is likened to "holding hands with God". As a budding psychospiritual spelunker I couldn't resist the opportunity find out what the experience had in store.
On July 29th, 2000 three students and one professor took a ferry across the river Ij to a church that looked as if it were built in the 18th century. When we arrived we filled out waivers that informed us about the ritual, the potion (called Jurema) and the group leading the ceremony called The Friends of the Forest. The Friends of the Forest are a group of like minded spiritual seekers that practices ethnobotany, or healing through the ingestion of medicinal plants. The Friends used Ayahuasca to help individuals who struggled with depression and substance dependence and reported favorable results.
Ayahuasca is an ancient practice engaged in by various native cultures of South America. The word Ayahuasca ("Aya" meaning spirit and "huasca/waska" meaning vine) roughly translates as "vine of the dead/soul/spirit" called so because it introduces the taker of the potion to profound spiritual realities about the nature of the universe and deep insight into their true purpose; it can also cause temporary psychosis and severe emotional distress. We were told that what determines our experience is our relationship with our minds and how comfortable we were with seeing what it really contained; some people see angels some demons, some both and some neither. As I was told on the waiver, I should also expect to purge i.e. vomit or diarrhea which is a side effect of the potion and an important part of the ritual itself representing a release of negative energy and emotions. It's recommended not to eat or take any medication at least 12 hours before the ritual but it was too late to do anything about my full stomach of Lebanese lamb shwarma. So Ayahuasca is no joke, and I don't recommend doing it without very experienced guides and a healthy grounding in experiences with other psychoactive substances.
The Friends of the Forest were there as facilitators and guides throughout the 8-10 hour process to make sure that we were comfortable and deal with any disturbing things that we experienced. In the main hall of the church was a shrine on which sat symbols from various religious traditions. Through the center of the hall leading to the shrine was a path of candles and crystals, mainly large geodes, about 100 feet long and a space in the center with a small square blanket with room for about four people to sit. The participants sat along the outer walls of the church surrounding the path. The four of us that attended were joined by about 50 others, all dressed in white, some who appeared to be yogis who wore turbans and had beards that reached down to the floor.
We were told that the ceremony would consist of three rounds and at the beginning of each round we would come to the shrine and receive a cup full of the Ayahuasca potion. I brought a journal with me to document my experience and wrote in my normal penmanship to my girlfriend at the time about how much I loved her and hoped that the ritual would improve our relationship. After I jotted down some other notes it was time to take the first potion. After the first dose I sat down and we were led through guided meditation while listening to subtle atmospheric music. I began to see trails and have some milky bodily feelings. I remember thinking that it was like taking mushrooms. When my eyes were open I saw vivid colors and had a general sense of peace. When I closed my eyes, my mind was awash with images all of which transformed into whatever it desired. The first round was cool. I remember being so caught up in the experience that I was surprised when we were called for the second round. After drinking the next Dixie cup of bitter Jurema I sat down and began to write a little more about the first round.
" The first round was very peaceful. We went through different meditations and then a silent round. During the silent round is when I began to really feel the effects of the Ayahuasca. It was calm and tingly, like shrooms, then it intensified and began to give me very intense geometrical and audial visions. Audial visions. That sounds like an oxymoron but the sounds were so vivid and in other languages and voices but somehow it was all in English but me speaking to me. I went to the bathroom and sat and thought that soon I would be home but no matter how far I fly I can't get away from me."
The second round is where it all fell apart.
I can't really explain the second round because I wasn't really "with it" anymore. Whatever ties I had with reality were cut and I went quite literally somewhere else. It was as if I was transported to another realm where I was present and awake to my experiences but had no control over what I chose to experience. My mind showed me whatever it felt I needed to see. There was no persecution or judgement in my visions, there was nothing that tried to hurt or scare me. Everything I experienced seemed to come to me for my benefit. I remember having a conversation with my deceased grandfather and apologizing to him for not being the grandson I felt I should be. I don't know if he forgave me or not but I do know that he seemed happy. During the second round I joyfully laughed and cried at the vivd, dreamlike display. Writing during the second round was drastically different than the first. Aside from the fact that my handwriting regressed about 20 years, my ability to capture the experience in sentences had been reduced to singular words. I remember opening my eyes and asking myself, "what do I write". What I wrote is:
"The question is what don't I write"? "2nd dose, Trans-critical plateaus unimagined, love, fathomless, grief, beauty, explosions of God, me, ME, WE! J-Who? C'mon now, you know the answer, you've always known. That's the pain. SHOWING UP! SHOWING UP! SHOWING UP!
Showing up, or being present for life is what I took from the second round. All of my life's pain and suffering could be boiled down and distilled into that phrase. I saw how much fear and avoidance were my dominant responses to life and that if I had only been more brave, more trusting that I wasn't crazy, more self affirming, more sure that I wouldn't be destroyed by the experience then I wouldn't be haunted by moments of weakness and frailty. I also realized that because of my conditioning, I could only end my suffering by pledging to show up as soon as possible. Little did I know I would soon be presented with an opportunity to do just that.
While the 50 or so participants of the group were on their internal Jurema journeys, outside of us, in the center of the room was a group of three people playing soft music on a guitar. I remember listening to them and beginning to nod my head to the rhythm. I then began to beatbox very quietly, or make rhythms with my mouth in sync with the guitar melody. I quickly stopped myself, thinking that this was a sacred occasion and out of line. The highly spiritual, yogic like appearance of the other participants and the meditative environment informed me that there was no place for anything Hiphop related. Hiphop is not spiritual, it is not gentle, not subtle and has nothing to do with the divine at all. My mind then flashed to a lesson I learned in my class about a term, "non-dual". That things are not two, nor are they not one. All phenomena do a dance called "the one and the many" where they maintain both their connectedness and individuality at the same moment. What that meant is that Hiphop was not separate from spirit/divine and that although it manifests in various ways that it could never be separate. So me beatboxing was no less "spiritual" than the Ayahuasca ceremony itself, the difference was the degree to which my heart was in aligned with my intention.
I stood up and walked around the path of crystals to the area where the guitarists sat. They smiled, gestured for me to sit and offered me some water. I spent a minute listening to them play, gathered my courage and then began beatboxing, loudly. All of a sudden the group awoke from their collective hallucination, raised their heads and began to nod to the beatbox in unison. After some time the guitar players began to slowdown their playing and I followed suit, bringing the beatbox to a close. When we stopped, the group placed their hands in front of their heart and bowed.
The third round was a blur. I was completely overcome by my visions and don't remember a thing. I did manage to write one word. "Ghost".
At the end of the ceremony many people walked up to me and shook my hand telling me that the beatboxing took them and the ceremony to another level. One man, Soma, had me call his family in America and beatbox for them. I wasn't rejected and in fact the beatboxing seemed to be of benefit to others. Whether it was beneficial or not I can't really say, but what I could say with certainty is that I had never felt closer to "God" and "Hiphop", and my definition of those two concepts had never been more malleable. From that moment I vowed to live that experience whenever thinking about, speaking about or creating "Hiphop". However my vow alone wouldn't be enough to turn my insight into actuality. What needed to drastically shift was my view and practice of Hiphop which would only come with my own psychospiritual development. I needed a path.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Hiphop and the Three Perspectives
Much of my work is informed and influenced by the teachings of Ken Wilber who I have studied for some time, but to say that I've achieved any level of mastery of his dense and profound theories would be a gross overstatement. So forgive me if my writing is basic and without any real depth of understanding. Writing for me is like untangling knots; the more I work with it, the more a greater reality is revealed. This is just practice writing.
One of the things that assists me with my writing process (in particular when writing rhymes) is looking at an idea/concept/action/thought/feeling in as many ways as I can. This way I am sure to have a thorough grounding in the reality of that which I am currently witnessing (or are planning on being) engaged in. Just as much as a diamond can only be described after looking at all of its facets, I can only describe an object (including mental objects) or subject in full when I look at it from all sides. As my awareness inhabits more perspectives, I increase my direct experience (and as a result increased knowledge and understanding) of the ob/sub and can better express the totality of the experience hopefully without the taint of shortsightedness and prejudice.
To understand Hiphop fully and reap the most benefit from utilizing the elements, one must be willing to view and create from as many perspectives as possible. Why?
Well in general because looking at any situation, idea, etc from multiple perspectives frees us from myopia, or viewing things from a singular view. It provides a wider, more inclusive and more importantly, more real view of a situation. Hiphop is not one thing, nor are the elements or the ideas that the elements can capture. Taking on multiple perspectives makes us more intelligent, not because of what we now know but because of our increased capacity to know. It widens our mental lens, our awareness and tolerance of other viewpoints. If you're an entertainer it may even widen your audience. When we create, the more perspectives we take the more we can know about the subject, the more we can relay to others and the more we can connect to others through our element.
But from a larger perspective, as Hiphoppers we are often out of touch with who we are. Taking on multiple perspectives (of self and other) helps us to know ourselves better and live more authentically by short circuiting the tendency towards self/other deception by taking something at mere appearance or face value. Taking on more perspectives we attempt to "directly know" a phenomena, meaning we no longer base our knowledge on strictly guessing, belief, hope etc. We know because we experienced the perspective as much as we could. Viewing things from multiple perspectives also provides options for how to interact, treat or better assist a situation. Consider the ramifications it has when trying to truly be creative (instead of adopting old patterns of manifesting), solve difficult inter/intra personal decisions, be truly empathetic or resolve conflict between parties who can't see out side or beyond their own viewpoint.
For those interested in healing, connecting, helping, growing etc. I can sum it up like this.
The more perspectives you take the more you know about yourself and others.
The more you know about self and others the closer you grow to understanding and empathizing.
The more you empathize and understand the more you begin to see how big your heart really is (and always was).
The larger your realize your heart is the more space you have for other beings and your behavior and life naturally become skillfully helpful.
When there are masses of open hearted, compassionate beings, our families, our communities and our world will experience less suffering and more interconnectedness.
When individuals and families begin to see their interconnectedness to each other they will begin to see natures perspective and our connection to it.
When we see from the perspective of the divine calling us to call us its name, we will have peace because no thing is threatened by the fear of feeling other.
When you are everything there is nothing that you are outside and nothing that is outside you.
Then you can relax among the chaos of the world knowing that to resist would pull you from that integral perspective and peace that reality offers.
Wilber postulates that there are three primary perspectives, 1st, 2nd and 3rd person, by which all things may be viewed and the possibility of 4th, 5th, 6th and maybe even more perspectives yet to be discovered. These three perspectives are found in all human language and represent the ways we've developed to view the world.
If we look at how we describe experience, we find that we use 1st, 2nd and 3rd person pronouns. "The 1st person refers to the person who is speaking which includes pronouns like I, me, and mine (in the singular) and we, us, ours in the plural. It is what's going on within us. "It's the person speaking". Our 2nd person experience refers to who is being spoken to and includes pronouns like you and yours. The 3rd person perspective refers to the thing being spoken about such as he, him, she, her, they, them, it and its." (18, IS, Wilber)
So if I am talking to you about the new album by MF DOOM, "I" am the 1st person, "you" are the 2nd person and MF DOOM's album is the 3rd person (or the "it" being spoken about. When "we" communicate your 2nd person and my 1st person are engaged in dialog about MF DOOM.
1st, 2nd and 3rd person perspectives are part of your being, right now and are available to you in any moment. It is by adopting these perspectives that we see deeper into all experience. 3rd person perspectives refer to objective truth (science, nature), 2nd person perspectives refer to how we treat each other and 1st person perspectives deal with how i express myself. These three perspectives put can be stated more simply as truth, good and beauty or nature, culture and self. By visiting these perspectives we become more whole and begin to see the reality of ourselves, others and all things. Utilizing these perspectives when engaging with Hiphop can lead to a fuller and deeper experience of reality as well and can unlock the true power of the elements.
For instance, when Organized Konfusion wrote Stray Bullet in 1992 they did so from a 3rd person perspective; what it's like seeing through the eyes and mind of a bullet and gun. Why was that significant? Because in becoming the stray bullet one can more clearly relay the terror and trauma of those effected by it from a previously unseen perspective. Pharoahe Monch's verse was especially visceral:
"Aww fuck it", next target's Margaret's face *bang*
And I struck it
Now it's a flood of blood in circumference to her face
And an abundance of brains all over the street
Shame how we had to meet *bang*
Dashin, buckin, greet by fuckin family
They follow behind me in a orderly fashion
Bashin through flesh I'm wild
Crashin through the doors of projects hallways
To deflect off of the tile
I'm coming for you little girl
Once inside I shatter your world
Swirl, no more dreams no hopes when I spray.
If we take into account all of the perspectives involved in Pharoahe writing his verse we see that his depiction of the chaos of a stray bullet involved multiple viewpoints: a bullet (3p object), the 1st person view of the bullet (1p which are the lyrics), all coming from Pharoahe Monch's 1st person perspective (1-p).
But let's say we switch that around a bit: Pharoahe could've written from the little girls perspective as well. Had he have, he would've been writing from her 1st person view (1p) of a 3rd person (3p) from his 1st person (1-p). Had he chosen he could've written a dialog between the two of them as they discussed the horrors of gun violence. If he did he would've been giving a 1st person view (1p) while taking on a 2nd person perspective (2p) from his 1st person (1-p). He could've not written anything and instead did some introspection: that would be him taking a 1st person view (1p) of his 1st person awareness (1p) of his 1st person (1-p). What if he wrote about the proliferation of guns by large corporations? 3rd person view of a 3rd person institution from his 1st person. The corporation also has an internal view which could've focused on as well. That would've been Pharoahe writing from their 1st person about a 3rd person from his 1st person.
This attempt at looking at the exterior and interior perspectives of a phenomena is what Wilber calls Integral Methodological Pluralism, which is a really nerdy way of saying that we can view (and better study) the internal and external experience of individuals and groups from both inside and outside those experiences. Better yet. Here's a chart. (Fig. 1)
Upper Left, Zone 1/Zone 2: The movement of my intelligence
The upper left (UL) of the chart refers to the individual, I, and also includes my self concept, identity, symbols, sensations, concepts, rules, structures of consciousness, feelings, thoughts, memories and experiences. Me. Zone 1 is the internal experience of the individual. Only the individual can see inside the individual. Wilber associates this Zone with the study of phenomenology, the study of mental arisings. Zone 1 is where we come in contact with the healthiness or unhealthiness of our thoughts and emotions, where we do the psychospiritual work of removing mental barriers to love such as greed, pride, anger, jealousy etc., cultivate healthy emotions such as generosity and gratitude and where prayer, meditation and contemplation take place. Zone 1 is also where we deceive ourselves by casting out thoughts and emotions that we find it hard to identify as ours. Wilber calls this our shadow. I often question emcees when I hear their lyrics. Is what they just said who and how they really are or a learned maladaptive response to unresolved trauma or pain? Zone 1 is where we can begin to witness our tendencies to distance ourselves from certain thoughts as well as begin to see how imbedded or fused our identities have become with material that we are completely unaware of.
Using the elements from a Zone 1 perspective
Emceeing, DJing, Bboying, Graf Writing, Producing: Resting AS Hiphop (peace, love, unity) in formless awareness as the Witness consciousness that sees the arising of your perceived emcee identity. Practicing stillness and conscious breathing to be aware of the present moment and to calm thoughts and feelings. Awareness can then be brought to thoughts and feelings to determine quality, motivation and intention. Thoughts can be assessed for healthiness or lack thereof. Questions such as, "what's keeping me from feeling my best", "are my thoughts pre/rational, post rational", "who am I", "where is the I that I think that I am", "what have I learned that can help me with this subject", "which aspect (level of self development) of my self do I wish to create from", "what am I trying to not feel", "is my identity in alignment with my intention", "how can what I'm about to create help or hurt me/others", "what may be the result of my creation", may be asked.
Zone 2 however is what Zone 1 looks like from the outside. It is the attempt to look at the arisings (thoughts, feelings, perceptions) of a first person perspective by someone other than the individual. Examples of this include studying the effects of meditation on an individuals perception. From a Hiphop standpoint, Zone 2 is where we attempt to explore and understand the experience of other practitioners 1st person perspective through contemplation, research, interview or other form of inquiry. Theres no way to conduct the research from the inside of someone else's head, but we can ask them to report their experience to us so we can try to understand it better. Attempting to describe the experience of a practitioner is useful because although ones 1st person perspective is not legitimate by itself, if you and I discuss our experience and come to a consensus about the means and fruition of that experience we can begin to discover HOW to repeat that experience. Meditation is a good example. Meditation can only be experienced by the meditator. No one can see inside of their experience. However if we both meditate, follow the same instructions and get similar results, it gives credence to our method and fruition as valid. People have meditated for thousands of years using the same instructions and getting the same results. Faith in the practice is based upon the experience of others, our experience while meditating and cross checking our experience with the lineage of meditators. What did they say would happen if I meditated? Did the same thing happen for me? If not, is meditation flawed, was my teacher flawed or did I not follow the instructions correctly? My experience has been that its usually my fault. I either didn't practice at all/enough, or I thought that I could replace practice with thinking, as if the thought was the same as experience.
No one can see inside the 1st person experience of a bboy, however if two bboys both uprock and then share their experience with each other, and agree on the experience, it gives validity to the experience. It then is not just my experience, it is ours. Lets say a group of 1000 bboys do the same thing. Then we can be more sure that our experience is valid and repeatable. Knowing the means (the 4 elements) that produce favorable developmental outcomes and sharing our results with each other will validate Hiphop as a tool for growth.
Hiphop is already a lineage based on study, practice and discussion of the results as validity for future study and practice but I don't think it's very recognized. For now i think that Zone 2 is largely used by those interested in entertainment. My hope is that Hiphop will utilize this same scientific method to explore the benefit of the elements on our psychospiritual, cultural, social and physical development. Researching and validating reports of heightened states of consciousness, increased self awareness, interconnectedness, compassion, wisdom etc. through skillful use of the elements helps Hiphop transcend its current egocentric and ethnocentric associations.