I had a teacher once who used to say “Right?” after almost every sentence, to the point where we couldn’t concentrate on the lesson or what he was saying because once you started to count the number of times he said it in one 45min class you couldn’t do anything else. It was like a dripping tap or a creaking door or (like last night) a loose window in the wind when you are trying to sleep. The harder you try and ignore it the more present it is. There is probably a whole ‘nother blog post in there, but not now.
So I caught myself saying something totally new the other day, with a regularity that made it seem like I said it all the time, and I was in a group of new people, people I had just met, so they didn’t know that this wasn’t one of my regular sayings, only I could tell. I was saying ” ‘m saying?” or ” ‘m saying!” as in “Do you know what i’m saying?” or “You KNOW what i’m saying!”. I was saying it constantly in response to something they said that I agreed with, or to agree with myself and emphasise a point or sometimes it just came out. Believe me when I tell you that I don’t know when this started. I just know that suddenly it felt really comfortable and natural so it stuck. The thing is, now that that job is over and all those new people aren’t around anymore? That’s right. I don’t say it anymore. Yes, it had something to do with them, but no, this is not that blog post that will deal with that.
THIS post is about something else that I say, all the time. I say “Break it down” ALL the time. It means many things to me and I use it with a confidence and a sureness. I claim it when I say it because it means so much on so many levels.
Breaking something down, like an idea or an opinion, means take it back to its essence, to its core, to the smallest possible participle particle on which the whole thought is constructed. Break it down means expose all of the smallest parts that make it up. This is the opposite of building it up, of building an idea. Hip Hop heads talk about ‘building’ as in growing an idea or a premise, of expanding knowledge. This isn’t building though, it’s the opposite, but with the same intention. As you pick it apart you start to determine what makes it up and you get a clearer idea of how it is formed. Basically you come to understand it in it’s completeness.
When you hear someone like me say “Break it down” then we really mean “Explain it so we can all understand it clearly”. Breaking it down means trying to achieve complete understanding. It means you have to drop the ego and admit that you don’t know, which is cool, because that also means that you are admitting that you want to know, and a quest for knowledge will always be a no-bull endeavor.
Break it down means tell the truth. You can’t lie and break it down. Lies have nothing to break down, there is no knowledge there, no information, just deceit.
Break it down means expose the essence, reveal the engine, display the inner workings. There is no hiding when you break it down. It all has to be out in the open, transparent, laid bare, honest.
In music, like in live rap tracks, I like to yell “Break it down” just before the actual ‘break-down’ or the part of the track that is stripped to it’s bare parts and goes really minimal for a couple of bars and then builds again into everyones favorite moment ‘the drop’, when the big beat or chorus or main theme kicks back into the song. This is a habit I have picked up from years of busting live on stage and having to fulfill that frontman energy that always has you searching for action and activity to keep the energy up but without anything to do, like playing a guitar or bass or drums or whatever. Frontmen have nowhere to hide and many is the time you end up standing on stage looking and feeling like a chop because everyone is watching you but you aren’t doing anything. “Break it down!” pretty much reminds the audience that they are supposed to be LISTENING to the music, not WATCHING the musicians, so when I yell it it means “Concentrate on the sound, it’s about to do something cool!” as well as “Gimme a break for a second so I can sip my beer over here”.
It’s a moment of pure performance or audio truth. Break it down means keep it real.