Digging in the crates with Virginia Tech librarian, Craig Arthur, and undergrad student, Dylan Holliday, led me to the discovery of hip hop culture, which includes much more than just music. Hip-hop, in my eyes, has always been the combination of looped beats and poetic lyrics – nothing more. After a short interview with these two DJs, not only was my view expanded, but also, their passion provoked a pull in my chest like a magnetic force drawing my heart towards an unseen chunk of iron. Hip-hop is a way of life, a means of expression, a foundation on which to portray one’s self and understand others.
Dylan’s first experience with hip-hop was in the eighth grade when he was exposed to graffiti. It’s easy to see how graffiti and hip-hop can intersect, but it turns out that graffiti is actually one of the components of hip-hop. Hip-hop is all encompassing. It is integrative. It is not one black and white style of creation. Coming to college, Dylan came in contact with the Student Hip Hop Organization, and they pushed him to allow hip-hop to encompass all aspects of his life – past just music. When the Student Hip Hop Organization died out, Dylan’s passion persisted. He took matters into his own hands and started SOHHL – Students of Hip Hop Legacy. From that point on, Dylan has been inspiring other club members to grab hold of their passions and create something from it. He wants to create a legacy, as the name of the club exhibits, and he urges others to carry on that legacy and make it thir own.
Craig’s first exposure to hip hop was as a 15 year old. Chris, the owner of a nearby bike shop, would bring in his turntables to show the neighborhood kids. This was the beginning of Craig’s inclination towards hip-hop. Throughout his undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech, he DJed his way through school, filling both his bank account and his heart’s desires.
When it comes to mixing, Dylan is more logical in his process style. “I like to basically write everything down first, basically plan out everything I’m going to do ahead of time.” Craig’s style differed. He described his process from idea to final project as, “more serpentine than straight.” This just proves the point that no two developments are the same, no matter how similar the end result may be.
At the end of the day, both artists developed unique beats that came from imagination and inquisition. Something in their minds told them that certain sounds made a good pair, and that same something in their minds warned them when there was a clashing of noise as well. Creativity was the driver of the taxi in their minds, picking up different passengers and dropping them off along a meandering route.
To finalize my conversations with Craig and Dylan, I asked one blanket question: “What is creativity to you?” Broad yet revealing, I was met with responses that reminded me why I, myself, must always push forward because beauty can be created in all circumstances.
“Creativity is being able to birth something that you can call your own. The beauty of it is you don’t know what it looks like until you start it and you can’t stop until you finish, and that’s when you find out what it was that you were envisioning the whole time.”
“Creativity is what gets you out of the rut, out of the mundane patterns of life.”