SCRATCH the surface of any town and you’ll find a sub-culture.

For example, Bournemouth has been an unlikely hotbed for serious hip hop talent since the mid-eighties.

Last year, Pavilion Dance South West brought all local crews together for the first time, to celebrate hip hop and related arts, such as beat boxing and graffiti. The event B-Town Throwdown attracted over 5,000 visitors and returns today until Sunday.

The icing on the cake will be touring hip hop festival Breakin' Convention tomorrow. The show, held in the Pavilion Theatre, will be hosted by UK hip hop legend Jonzi D and Bournemouth’s very own old school b-boy Lacemaster.

“Right now hip hop is everywhere. Anywhere you’ve got radio and TV you will find a hip hop community. I’ve not been to anywhere on this earth and not found hip hop,” says Jonzi D, artistic director of Breakin Convention.

Bournemouth is the final date in Breakin' Convention's 2014 national tour. The line-up includes Olivier Award-nominated group ILL-Abilities, respected choreographer Ukweli Roach and French group Wanted Posse.

For the genial Jonzi D, selecting the best hip hop acts in the world is a labour of love.

“The hardest task I face every year is nailing who to book for the Breakin Convention. It’s hard because there’s so much talent out there around the world. What’s beautiful is that hip hoppers just naturally want to do things,” say Jonzi.

The 44-year-old has been rapping and dancing since the early 1980s and has been named in the top 10 positive black role models by MOBO. Jonzi was even offered an MBE, but for him the backwards cap just didn’t fit.

“That whole denial of the MBE is more to do with what we value in life. I value history. The idea of wearing a badge that says member of the British Empire means that I’m not acknowledging what the Empire meant to my lineage. My great-grandfather hated the British Empire. The slave trade was a part of the British Empire and it would be hypocritical for me to accept something like that.”

In fact, Jonzi wrote an acclaimed solo show The Letter, about his feelings on the subject.

“I’m really gutted that we’ve never performed it in Bournemouth. I created it in Bournemouth, we developed the piece over two weeks at Pavilion Dance a few years ago.”

Surrounding Breakin’ Convention, Pavilion Dance South West have a number of events as part of the B-Town Throwdown weekend. Starting today and running all weekend until Sunday, there will be performances, free classes, master classes from some of the most highly respected artists in the hip hop scene, battles, live art, and much more.

Many of the events are free of charge, including outdoor performances on the terraces on Saturday afternoon. So grab your shiny tracksuit, boom-box and piece of lino for a celebration of hip hop.

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