A few weeks ago, I was invited to New York to shoot Street Style Lab 2016. Its a dope annual event in New York that brings together students from all over the world, teachers of many different dance styles and the old skoolers from New York from back in the day, giving an insight on what it was like when Hip Hop was born and how it evolved.
They organized a kids camp, workshops, Hip Hop tours throughout the city, photo-shoots, talks with the pioneers, and lots more. If you want to be part of it next year, book early, spaces go fast!
During the event, we did photo shoots in different parts of the city. One of the shoots I did for them was with Crazy Legs and Popin Pete of RSC (Rock Steady Crew) in Times Square. I took the chance to set up an interview with Red Bull artist and original B-Boy Crazy Legs about his B-Boy life.
Hey Legs, we just met in New York at Street Style Lab 2016. Can you tell us a little bit about the event?
I like Street Style Lab for the vibe of it. Theyre conscious of the fact that NYC is the birthplace of Hip Hop and they incorporate that idea within their programming. Theyve also come up with great collaborations for workshops that feature teachers from different forms of Hip Hop dance as well as other styles.
You were teaching a B-Boy class at SSL, what does teaching mean to you personally, what do you get out of teaching?
For me, its about passing on the art form as well as keeping myself active. I enjoy giving the students information on how I grew up and how I used Hip Hop to enjoy myself. Whether it was through battling, graffiti (writing), sneaking on to my brothers DJ equipment or trying to write rhymes with Frosty Freeze.
You are 50 years of age and you and Storm just battled each other in a celebrated event called Battle of the Gods. We were all impressed by your energy and skills. What drove you to enter this battle?
I was asked by Tony Rock of Top Nine Crew if I would be interested in battling Ken Swift. I said immediately that I would. I felt that it would create some major hype in the scene as well as give Ken Swift and myself the opportunity to come together and put differences aside for the greater good. We waited for a response from him and he wasnt interested. When they got the news, they asked me if I would battle Storm. This was very interesting to me. I saw more reasons as to how it would be a great platform for some of my agendas. I felt that I would do it and train as hard as I could, in hopes that other old school heads would be inspired to take care of themselves. I also felt that I could use it to raise awareness about the financial crisis in Puerto Rico. Top that off with the idea that it would be Rock Steady Crew vs. Battle Squad and USA/Puerto Rico verses Germany, it would get more people into it and feel like they could enjoy taking sides and rooting for whoever they wanted to win.
Note: You can learn more about this battle here.
Will there be more battles in the future? Or was this the last one?
Ill let the music and my physical determine whats next. For now, I have to take care of some injuries and continue training.
How did you train for it?
WOW! What didnt I do? It was extremely difficult to train for this, because I was facing a career-ending situation in February. I was at a point where I could no longer walk without limping. I couldnt jog or run, let alone dance. I was going through, what I would consider, depression. I had already accepted to do the battle and I was no where near ready to train properly. I ended up speaking to my friend DJ G-Wiz (Glen Flojo), who was active as an RSC DJ in the 90s and he informed me that there was an option for me and I didnt have to give up or cancel the battle, unless I tried out Amniotic Stem Cell Therapy. After he gave me the information and had me speak to Dr. Steven Cyr, I was ready to give it a shot. Or I should say, let him give me the shot. I went to San Antonio, Texas to get this injection in my knee and 30 days later, I was already walking fast and feeling a difference in my knee. Soon after that, walking turned into jogging and that turned into running. So I got with several trainers and informed them that I was recovering from an injury and I needed them to help me train in a way that would still be effective while still gaining mobility in my leg. So I did a lot of core training and boxing, in order to drop weight. I wanted to do a lot of breaking, but I also have a cyst in my wrist, which still has to be removed. But I gave it my all, and on the day of the battle, all I could do was hoping that my cyst wouldnt start randomly hurting and prevent me from doing what I came to do. But I owe a lot to Jenaro Diaz of Church Street Boxing and my other trainer Nelson Sanchez, who happens to be a great inspiration to me. He knows how to get in my head and make me feel like nothing can stop me and I needed that very much at the age of 50.
You just celebrated another Rock Steady Anniversary. Next year, itll be the big one. 40 Years RSC. What are the plans for next years event?
You get another WOW for that! Its a lot of pressure and I know that we have to try our best to make things exciting for everyone coming. We will honor all elements of Hip Hop. But, my wish for the anniversary is to have LL Cool J perform at a venue in The Bronx and Nas in Manhattan. Lets see how that goes. Im also looking forward to collaborating with some organizations like Street Style Lab in order to build some programming for workshops.
What does your crew mean to you?
Family. And if were a real crew? That means being dysfunctional from time to time. But working out those issues keep the real ones as members and make us stronger.
How many members are in RSC at the moment?
Do many people apply to get into RSC?
Ok. Now you made me laugh. This is Hip Hop. Its not like you walk into some office and ask for an application. Its all about establishing a relationship with who ever has some potential or ability then it comes to the elements of Hip Hop and then vetting them by hanging out and communication.
On your travels, which country (or B-Boy scene in a special country) inspired you the most?
Ill have to break that down by country and event. I would have to live somewhere or stay somewhere long enough to know exactly what their scene is really like. I cant judge it based on a weekend of events where everyone flew in for it. Its not a fair assessment. If I have to pick, and in no particular order, I would have to say, IBE in Holland, Radikal Forze Jam in Singapore and I love my Puerto Rock Steady Music Festival in Puerto Rico. I mention these, because all of them are all inclusive of music genres and theyre not just about B-Boys and B-Girls. Theres a vibe that has to be experienced if you really want to understand what theyre about.
Photos by Nika Kramer