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YES ASEAN Jam/Battle/Showcase
Here are just a few photos from one of truest Hip Hop experiences I've ever had a chance rock. I really had no idea what to expect from my time in Banda Aceh. Run by Sharia Law, Banda is the most conservative part of Indonesia. In fact, when the local government found out that the US Embassy was sponsoring my participation in the event they almost shut it down. But that had more to do with lack of knowledge about Hip Hop more than political or religious belief. After a meeting during which event organizers explained the meaning and purpose behind Hip Hop, the local government was 100% on board. A few members even attended both the day-time battle prelims as well as the evening showcase--check out my photo with them--classic! Lol As an American, even one who considers himself to be pretty open-minded, it was difficult not to come to Banda Aceh with a few misconceptions. However, I quickly had to put those aside when I was faced with the reality of a warm, embracing, "chill" people who's faith has gotten them through some of the darkest times that one could even begin to imagine...the 2004 Tsunami. Chilling at a coffee shop, watching the sunset at Ulee Lheue--heck even the way the traffic moves, there is a flow to Banda that was far too familiar. I kid you not when I say, it felt a bit like being back in my hometown of El Paso, TX...which for me is a huge compliment! Big ups to the young Hip Hoppers pushing the culture forward in Banda Aceh! Your style has reinvigorated my love for Hip Hop...and you all have inspired me to see the intersection of youth culture, religion and politics in profoundly different ways. Achenese Bboys, emcees, DJs and graffiti artists embrace and practice the culture like every other place I've been blessed to visit. However, I still feel that their's is a deeper understanding of the movement. I look forward to returning in the future for a longer stay to soak-in some more of that Achenese Hip Hop goodness! And yes...hopefully one day, we'll find a way to get an all-elemental crew from Banda Aceh to NYC for a Hip Hop exchange like no other! Big ups to the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and Consulate in Medan for all your support in making this possible! Mission accomplished! Big ups to John Ferguson, American Voices and YES Academy ASEAN for laying the foundation! None of this would have been possible without all of your hard work over the years! Terimah Kasih! Thank you!Read More