Updated 20 Oct 2020: Links have been updated and repaired where necessary.
(Complete photo set at
Flickr Google Photos — I apologize for the appalling quality)
Update 09 June 2012: Here’s the video playlist of this event.
I believe it was meant to be. I already had the evening of the 5th of June 2012 planned, but right before that day, I found out that it was postponed to the next week. And, I just so happened to see some videos that fellow blogger Dinoza put up in the YES Hip Hop Kota Kinabalu Facebook event page (event page link removed, non-accessible, replaced with a post from Breeze magazine’s FB page).
This youth outreach / free performing arts programme has been making its rounds across Sabah and Labuan since April this year to register and audition interested hopefuls. I’m pretty sure the Academy had been quite surprised by the turn-up as well as the talents they found here in Borneo, judging from that night’s event!
After an intensive 5-day training, the participants were ready to show their hip-hopping skills. Here is the write-up I read from the brochure I received that night:
YES Academy is America’s free performing arts training program for youth around the world. The YES — Youth Excellence on Stage — program was established in 2007 on the Middle East nations of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Kuwait and has recently expanded to the Asian nations of Thailand, Afghanistan and now MALAYSIA!
“The first ever all Hip-Hop YES Academy takes place in Kota Kinabalu, and includes over 40 participants from across Borneo including WP Labuan, Miri, Kuching, Brunei and all over Sabah. American Voices hosted a five-day hip-hop program from June 1st-5th, 2012, where aspiring young performers enjoyed the expertise of a team of four members of HaviKoro Crew, one of USA’s most awesome Hip Hop teams in Dance, DJing, Rapping, Beat-boxing, Graphics and Design, and more!
“The YES Hip Hop Academy Kota Kinabalu is a joint non-profit of the US and Bangkok-based NGO, American Voices and private organisation, M.E. Malaysia with the program in Kota Kinabalu sponsored by the U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur and Association of American Voices.”
With my son being my co-assistant that night, we attended the performance at University Malaysia Sabah’s Recital Hall amidst the pouring rain. Again, I believe I was meant to attend this event, because the usually heavy after work-hour traffic was nowhere to be seen along our drive from Penampang to Likas.
Against Dinoza’s advice, I went ahead and sat at the front rows of the hall together with the media people just so that I could play with my DSLR camera and hopefully capture some splendid shots of the event upfront.
The show started with Yung Chris introducing a random warm-up / showcase of our homeboys who were lucky to be picked for the training programme.
Joe B got the b-boyz and b-girls and the crowd grooving and hip-hoping along while spinning and zipping awesome beats in the background most of the evening. Well, OK, he dazzled us with his poetry, too, and along the way introduced the audience to local talents in MCing, beatboxing and Djing. (I’ll put up their names and video on YouTube soon)
Update 9 June 2012: Here are the video playlist. Please note that due to copyrighted music being played during the show, some parts of the recording might be muted by YouTube, or not allowed to be viewed at all in certain countries.
I daresay that this part where Mario was showing and explaining the evolution of hip-hop was the highlight of the night. I really enjoyed the way each type of hip-hop dance was presented, from the old school, to new school, to house, to diva, and everything else in between. I spent most of my camera time taking videos of this jam, so not much photos in this part, but I promise I’ll upload the videos to YouTube soon and update this space once they’re available.
Hip-hop is really a culture in itself, as evident from the rich facets of its lifestyle – in dance, music, arts, design, poetry and just about anything else you can think of. Mario and the HaviKoro Crew really did a great job of not only grooming up our young talents in such a short time, but also by introducing the audience to this hip-hop culture that most of us in Sabah have only seen and heard of in TV and the Internet. If you have been exposed to the differences in the cultures of the East, West, Midwest and South of the US, you can actually detect hints of those differences in their dance which made each school so unique. I’ve always hold the old school hip-hop the dearest; there’s something in the rawness and the pioneering spirit of its dance and music that resonates so clearly to me.
And check out this freeze pose below. Almost at the middle of the photo right there — awesome, OK! Jesus.
We have Inspire ME (those cleverly awesome people who organised the memorable Red Soul show in Kota Kinabalu recently) and the US Embassy Kuala Lumpur to thank for organising and sponsoring the whole event.
As I walked to leave the hall at the end of the performance that night, I noticed that the crowd consisted of people from all ages and all types – students, corporate people, young, old, parents, couples, strangers, friends, family members. I imagined that most of us who came to watch this street jam expecting to be entertained, actually left with a surprised experience of being educated at the same time. What I hope this event has accomplished is that people can start realizing that hip-hop is not all those negative things we see and hear. Hip-hop is just like life– it can be as good or as bad as what and how we make it to be. Hip-hop can be a very positive influence in our lives if we know how and choose to channel those energy into making our lives better for ourselves and people around us.
Hip-hop has evolved, yet it lost nothing of its uniqueness. It’s still hip-hop. We can learn from this, as Sabahans and Borneons. Especially Sabahans, with all our uniqueness and beautiful culture. In the past, we have learned to embrace each other, no matter what culture, ethnic, or religious differences we have. Because we understand, that by doing so – embracing each others differences — doesn’t mean that we lose our uniqueness. Let us continue that way of life, and not lose it amidst the conflicts we currently see happening in our country.
Let’s continue being Sabahans.