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For nearly two decades, Akim Funk Buddha has been pushing the boundaries of hip-hop, while also preserving the fundamentals of the old school.
On Nov. 28 and 29, the artist will bring this old-school, nu-school mash with Funk Buddha Hip-Hop Holiday, two nights of dance, music and performance at BAMcafé Live.
Not formally trained in dance, Funk Buddha’s education has come from his travels. Born in upstate New York but raised in Zimbabwe, and now residing in Brooklyn near BAM, the artist has traveled to all over the world, to Thailand, India and southern Africa, absorbing dance techniques and other methods.
“I have a natural affinity towards moving the way I do. I magnetized more towards the underground dance scene, the classic hip-hop, like popping, locking, b-boying,” says Funk Buddha, who further honed his craft as a street dancer in New York during the early ‘90s. “When I traveled through Asia, I would learn different cultural dances from the people that I stayed with. I had many teachers and many lessons over my travels. I traveled to explore the dance and myself through the dance.”
In addition to dancing, he also sings and adds theatrical elements to his performances for an experience that can’t be exclusively called dance, theater or music, as he raps and beat boxes, as well as incorporates throat singing and theatrical vignettes into his work.
Culling from friends and collaborators he’s known since coming to New York, Funk Buddha hopes to bridge an age gap he sees in the hip-hop community between younger and older listeners at his hip-hop holiday and bring the genre back to its beginnings.
“If you think of the biggest rapper you know now, you don’t think of art work, classic dance, urban moves,” says Funk Buddha. “I’m doing something that I consider not only breaking the generation gap, and by this I mean how the younger people get separated from the older people, but ground-breaking and generation-breaking performances that focus on the artist emceeing — the lyricist.”
With Funk Buddha rhyming and beat boxing on Nov. 28, he will also be joined by artists Spirit Child of Movement in Motion; Mazzi Behi of Soul Purpose; his bother, Dumi RIGHT; Princess Lockeroo, DJ Quing Luie of World Soul & Hip Hop Classics; and MC Why-G. The old-school meets nu-school vibe will be furthered by a presentation by students from “The Optimus Academy” and “Urban Art Beat,” as friends of Funk Buddha’s who teach in city schools will be showing off the rhyming and dancing that they’ve learned.
“Kids get cut off from hip-hop somewhere,” says the artist. “Sometimes the pioneers get mad when the youth don’t know what’s going on, but how can they know what’s going on when you cut them off and when shows don’t include the elements of hip-hop?”
The following night, Funk Buddha returns to BAM for a second session, “Cosmic Funk Hop.”
“That’s going to be the most worldly and funky live music performance that you have ever seen,” says the artist, who will continue to rhyme and beat box that night, as well as do throat singing.
The night will feature theatrical elements that have “inspired me over my travels,” says Funk Buddha, including a Japanese urban tea ceremony by the dancer Akiko Tokuoka of The Funky Geisha and YaliniDream. That will be backed up live by Kevin Nathanial on mbira; Vivian Warfield on Afro Brazilian percussion; Helen Yee and Chern Hui on violin; Shakuhachi flute by Aaron Shragge; drummer Jo Jo Kuo, one of Fela Kuti’s original drummers; Quig Lui on computer; and Zack Foley on vocal bass. Dancers also include Tommy Hypno Chan (body popping) and Princess Lockeroo (locking and wacking).
Beyond the BAM nights, Funk Buddha has been busy with side projects as well that further explore progressive hip-hop. In city public schools he teaches students what the purpose of dance, music or MCing is and is developing innovations in hip-hop curriculum for children. There’s also Zimbabwe Legit, a hip-hop group with his brother. They recently released an album called “House of Stone” featuring appearances by such hip-hop luminaries as Chubb Rock, Mike G of the Jungle Brothers, YZ, Vast Aire, Stic.man of dead prez, Prince Po (Organized Konfusion), Breez Evahflowin and more. They’re currently working with YZ, Mike G and DJ Sammy B of the Jungle Brothers and Cadence on a tour called Great Mindz, which kicked off last month as part of CMJ.
But for now, you can check out Funk Buddha live at his Hip-Hop Holiday, Nov. 28 and 29 at BAMCafe Live (30 Lafayette Ave.). The events are free and begin at 9 p.m. For more information, go to www.bam.org or call 718-636-4100. For more information on Akim Funk Buddha, go to www.funkbuddha.org.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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