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Samuel (Sammy Mac) McIntosh

Samuel McIntosh
Samuel McIntosh is a tall, quiet, studious young man, artist and educator, whom CPAC has been lucky enough to call colleague for the past year. But behind his soft-spoken demeanor and wire-rimmed glasses, Sam (or Sammy Mac) is a Popper, a Hip Hop dancer and choreographer, focusing on and mastering the art of Popping. It’s a genre of Hip Hop dance in which the artist contracts and releases specific muscles to accent the beat of the song or parts of the song. This is known as the hit or the “Pop”. There are many techniques within the genre including waving, strutting, tutting, animation, and many more.
He found himself drawn to Hip Hop culture at a young age, dancing in soul train lines at family gatherings listening to R&B, Soul or Funk classics and finding a familiarity in songs sampled in Hip Hop music. “It made it easy to assimilate into my life,” he says. But dance spoke to him most. “Hip Hop dance is so individual. For me, Popping is the most versatile Hip Hop genre of dance. You can make so many different characters and shapes.” Artists are likely to throw personally created, never-before-seen moves in battles and on the dance floor.

Sam comes to Hip Hop dance with an uncommon perspective, having studied classical ballet and modern dance at Baldwin Wallace University. But he’s interested in advocating for Hip Hop dance to be seen as the technique-driven, nuanced art form that it is, and to get the respect that it deserves from the broader community. In China and Korea, they treat Popping as an extracurricular sport or activity for students, funded by the government. “Though the culture has came a long way, we still don’t place enough value on Hip Hop dancing in America yet,” he says. But Sam is already working to change that perspective.

1. Describe briefly the work that you do.

I am what is known as a “Hip-Hop head”; a fan, advocate, educator, and player in the Hip-Hop community. Specifically I am a Hip-Hop dancer, trained in the genre of “Popping” and I am also a choreographer. My passion for the Hip-Hop culture, lead me to become a partial owner of the Cleveland Hip-Hop collective known as AyyeDeesMM (or 80’s MeetsModern). The AyyeDees name comes from the movement of Hip-Hop in the mid to late 80’s which could be said to be a pivotal moment for the culture as Hip-Hop music, dance, fashion, visuals, ect.,which were being placed and accepted in front of the mainstream for the first time. Our group takes our different mediums and the influence from that era, and puts a modern twist on them. I use dance and music to force the Impact and progression of the ever changing culture and serve for all communities.

2. How did you get introduced to your craft?

I can’t say or even recall being introduced; it felt more like Hip-Hop was always imbedded in my DNA. In terms of Rapping, I have always been attracted to it. I was offered a radio as a Christmas gift when I was very young and I would love to stay up late listening to all types of music, but I always gravitated towards Hip-Hop. All my friends were listening to it; specifically the first album I remember having a lasting impact on me was D12’s 2004 album “D12 World”. Hip-Hop was so natural to me and was so relatable to me no matter the background of the artist. Being so attracted to Hip-Hop, it was so natural that I fall in love with Hip-Hop Dance. I was introduced to Hip-Hop Dance in High School, watching the television show, So You Think You Can Dance and watching a dancer named Robert Muraine showcase a genre called “Popping”. His style and body movement resonated with me because of how he took a genre and made it unique to his personality. The exact moment I saw that performance, I knew I wanted to learn and make a career from it. The beauty I saw in Hip-Hop dance is that after being given a specific foundation, you are encouraged to provide a sense of individualism. This gave me confidence, purpose, and freedom to express emotions and ideas that I have never opened up before.

3. Do you have any long-standing influences?

I have a collage of influences, but two significant influences I have is an underground artist, Vast Aire and the one and only Will Smith. I remember listening hearing Vast Aires voice and thinking “Oh! So Rap music doesn’t just have to be about the same themes and lyrics we hear on the radio” he actually challenged my perception of what’s important for Hip Hop. Will Smith being my other influence mainly because he is a superb crossover artist. I look up to Will Smith because he is not linear and his work ethic is unmatched…his dancing isn’t bad either.

4. Describe your idea of artistic success?

For me, artistic success is the ability to “shake the game up”, as radio personality Sway Calloway would say. When you force a genre to visibly progress, whether it be controversial or stylistically. The ability to intrinsically impact others into thinking differently, that kind of impact is artistic success in my opinion.

5. What is your process for generating new ideas?

I take a month off. Whether I am building foundation in my dance or writing new songs, I need to take month long break to draw inspiration and relax before I am active again. This prevents me from getting burnt out and it also provides me with inspiration. I usually do a lot of things by myself on this break like trying new restaurants, going to clubs by myself, and just relaxing.

6. How do you feel your work affects your audience? (and/or) How do you want your work to affect your audience?

The foundations of Hip-Hop include Peace, Unity, Love, Having Fun, and Overstanding. I think my work, as well as my groups, embodies these values of the Hip-Hop culture naturally. We stay true to ourselves as well as the work we put out, and people support how genuine we are. So much in fact we have earned promotion and engagement support from very diverse demographics ranging from the elderly to youth, various ethnicities, and many different backgrounds. To have this type of unity of diverse individual’s means my work is doing something special for the Hip-Hop culture. Our work affects many to come together through music, dance, style, and overall feeling they receive from our presence.