Hiphop is largely studied from the outside in. We enjoy the music, the art and the dance. We judge, argue, evaluate and rank it, but not much attention is paid to what happens inside the artist. The 4th Spinning is an attempt to look at Hiphop from an Integral perspective, which simply means exploring the inside-and-outside of individuals (behavior, psychology and spirituality), and the inside-and-outside of groups (culture and society), to not only understand but to manifest Hiphop in all of its fullness. That also means not leaving out Hiphop’s relationship with other lines of development such as religion, medicine, psychology, politics, philosophy, activism etc. For Hiphop to truly be of benefit to itself and to the world it must see its connection and place among the myriad paths of growth.
The goal is simple; unearth the experience of Hiphop practitioners across the four elements (emceeing, djing, Bboying and graffiti) by having them share their 1st-person perspective of what they do behaviorally, psychologically, socially and culturally. Our tendency is to embrace the artifacts but rarely how and why the archeologist digs. Hopefully this information will be helpful to fans, practitioners and anyone involved in their own physical, mental and spiritual growth. It is also my hope that those who don’t have a relationship with Hiphop can see that there truly is no separation between seeking ones nature by sitting on a cushion and seeking ones nature by spinning a record. As Rumi said, we are always seeking the seeker.
The term “4th Spinning” suggests that there have already been three spinnings or stages in Hiphop’s evolution. I take these to be the three stages of moral development that Hiphop has experienced and grown through since its inception:
Egocentric (1973-1984) where we focused on style, being clever, impressive and attention;
Ethnocentric (1985-1993) where we focused on inequality, justice, politics, social action, care and concern for OUR group;
Worldcentric (1994-present) where we focused on our place in the world, the environment, defying group norms, defying musical and artistic boundaries, global Hiphop movements and Hiphop as beauty.
The 4th Spinning marks the beginning of incorporating all that we experienced and learned through engaging in Hiphop since 1973, with what we know about religion, spirituality, health, psychology, morality, technology etc. because if there is to be a healthy and whole Hiphop it will only come about by recognizing that my entire being needs attention and that there are already thousands of years of time tested methods and means to help us. Hiphop as art will not save anyone. Hiphop as means of intentionally exploring my self, my culture, and my nature will. So we have to begin to ask different questions. Do I use Hiphop as a tool of engagement or avoidance? Do I use it to work through challenges or ignore them? How is this helping me grow? And what am I growing towards? How does Hiphop help me live a liberated and happy life? How does Hiphop contribute to my suffering? As a Hiphopper how am I addressing my mental health issues? How does Hiphop put me in touch with my values? What’s the connection between Hiphop and Spirit? What’s the experience of Hiphop as Spirit vs. the concept of Hiphop as Spirit?
Despite Hiphop’s existence as a globally influential artform, culture and society, without also focusing on the value of its ability to reduce suffering (to express and experience what is of ultimate value) then we are not using it to its fullest potential. All of Hiphop, its attractive outsides and nebulous insides are important but all of it isn’t being explored. There are professional Hiphop artists, die-hard adherents and lay practitioners who find love, wisdom, peace, understanding, interconnectedness and healing through its elements. Our job is to find out how they experience those qualities, translate that information into an integral framework and introduce practices that bring about actual transformation.
We are reintroducing the sacred world to Hiphop and Hiphop to the sacred world. Welcome.
About Justin Miles
Justin F. Miles is the CEO of the Miles Institute of Integral Living LLC and provides mental health treatment to men and women in Baltimore City. Justin is a practicing Vajrayana Buddhist in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage and teaches courses on Buddhism and meditation to individuals and groups. Additionally, Justin is a DJ, Beatboxer, Producer and Emcee and develops theories and practices to utilize the four elements of Hiphop as tools for increasing self, other and global awareness.