FNV NEWSLETTER July 23 2002
In this week's issue
*ROCKSTEADY PREPARES TO CELEBRATE 25TH ANNIVERSARY
*AN INTERVIEW WITH CRAZY LEGS
*FACT OR FICTION? WHO'S STEALING BAY AREA SLANG? by T-Kash
The FNV Newsletter c 2002
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ROCKSTEADY PREPARES TO CELEBRATE 25TH ANNIVERSARY
This weekend [July 25th-28th] one of Hip Hop's oldest and most
enduring groups will celebrate it's 25th Anniversary. We're talking
about the Rocksteady Crew which first became known to the mainstream
after a brief, yet impactful cameo in the 1983 movie 'Flashdance'
starring actress Jennifer Beale. Who could forget the 'dancing in the
park' scene that forever immortalized this crew? Here RSC members
like Mr Freeze, who moon walked with an open umbrella and Crazy Legs
who showed off his innovative signature backspin move, executed other
colorful, mind boggling dance moves that forever inspired people all
around the world. The group later went on to bigger and better
heights when they appeared in movies like Beat Street , released
a platinum selling record 'Hey You' and featured in the off
Broadway play 'Jam on the Groove'.
Today RSC has chapters all over the world from Toronto to Tokyo to Las
Vegas with close to a 100 active members. They serve as important
ambassadors for Hip Hop as they help preserve an often overlooked and
under appreciated aspect of the culture.
"Dance is the life of a hip hop party. Not just b.boying / girling,
but the trendy stuff too. The breaking element represents the warrior
of hip hop. We're the only ones that have something to lose each time
we touch the floor. Injuries are always waiting to happen", noted RSC
president Crazy Legs in a recent interview. He went on to add that he
sees RSC as an important organization that helps inform the masses
about the history and essence of true Hip Hop."I would like to think
that we represent the essence of what Hip Hop is about. I feel that
we also represent a certain loyalty and dedication to the culture.",
This year as RSC celebrates their 25th Anniversary an estimated 15 to
20 thousand people are expected to attend the various activities,
concerts, and b-boy/b-girl battles they have planned throughout NY's
Lower Manhattan. On Thursday, July 25th there will be a Hip Hop film
festival put together and hosted by Bobbito Garcia of WKCR and Vibe
Magazine. This will be going down at the New York City Urban
Experience near the South Street Seaport.
Day two, (Friday, July 26th) is the B-boy/B-girl battle. Day Three,
Saturday July 27th is the annual Free/outdoor concert. Sunday, July
28th is the Paid/indoor concert in which old school and new school
hip-hop artists perform, B-boy/B-girl winners are presented, and RSC
presents a grand finale performance. This year's performers will
include Gangstarr, Dilated Peoples, Newcleus, Just-Ice, Rahzel and DJ
JS One, The Beatnuts, Jaz O and more to be announced.
So after 25 years what's next for RSC? Crazy Legs stated; "The next
level would have to be everyone in RSC becoming al that they can be
with the gifts that they possess. Rock Steady will always be a crew.
It will never be set up as a corporation. It has to continue to be a
right of passage in to hip hop culture."... For more information on
the Rocksteady Crew 25th Anniversary head on over to their website:
AN INTERVIEW WITH RSC PRESIDENT CRAZY LEGS
We ran this interview last year with Crazy Legs as a way to educate
people and let them know the history of the Rocksteady Crew. We
decided to run this again so people can be brought up to speed about
this legendary organization.. please enjoy..
This weekend the world famous Rocksteady Crew celebrated their 24th
Anniversary [July 2001] and people from all over the world will come
to New York attended the annual celebration. As one of Hip Hop's
oldest and most enduring organizations we felt it was important that
people obtain a better understanding of the crew, so we sat down with
Rocksteady President Crazy Legs and had him run down some of the
Davey D: First of all congratulations on Rocksteady's 24th
Anniversary. But you know a lot of people aren't really up on the
history of Rocksteady. So let's start by asking who is Rocksteady and
when did you all form?
Crazy Legs: Rocksteady was formed in the Bronx in 1977 by Jimmy Dee,
JoJo, and Eazy Mike who was JoJo's brother. There were other brothers
who were down like Jimmy Lee, Weebles, L-Mack and a bunch of other
people who were there before me. They were there two years before me.
The name was based upon a dance called The Rock. Which was basically
stylized Top Rocking. It was kind of like Top Rock/ Uprock. It was
initially going to be called The Rock Dance Crew. But then people
said let's name it Rocksteady just to keep it going. I actually
joined Rocksteady in '798. It was me and my cousin Lenny-Len who had
to battle Jimmy D and Jimmy Lee to get in. Jimmy D was the original
Davey D: Was Rocksteady primarily a dance crew or were you guys like
other Hip Hop crews in New York where you were doing a little bit of
Crazy Legs: Well you know when crews were first set up back then,
there really wasn't a term called to label the culture. So what you
had was just a crew. Within a crew you had brothers who liked to just
rock the mike, while other b-boyed or deejayed. The first crew that I
ever got down with was The Bronx Boys. There was an affiliation with
Rocksteady at that time. The Bronx Boys had a lot of different
things. We had everything from stick up kids to B-boys.
Davey D: Did you do other things other than dance?
Crazy Legs: I can never say that I was an emcee although I don't mind
getting on the mic from time to time and getting 'Everybody say 'Ho!'
That's just in my blood. I mess around on the turntables every now
and then. I used to go bombing [graffiti] a lot in Manhattan and in
the Bronx. I was a motion bomber, which meant that you would be
bombing the trains while they were in motion.
Davey D:You mentioned the term B-Boy. What exactly was a B-Boy?
Crazy Legs: Before the term Hip Hop existed, this is the way you
approached people; 'Yo! You B-Boy?' or 'Yo! Do you emcee?' 'Do you
rhyme'? That's how you knew who did what. That's how the B-Boys were
labeled. They were known as the Break Boys-the brothers that would
dance to the percussive part of the record or the break. That's how
we got labeled. That was our title. It had nothing to do with how we
dressed. Some of us were straight up bums and some of us were fly.
It had nothing to do with a stance or a pose.
Davey D: So it was known of that stereotypical stuff. It just
signified what you got down with?
Crazy Legs: Yep. It was B-boying or B-girling.
Davey D: Most people outside of New York became aware of Rocksteady
through the movie Flashdance. Was that a direction you intended to
take or did that just kind of fall into your lap?
Crazy Legs: It just kind of fell into our path. We were just people
who came across other people who were promoting clubs and looking to
do something alternative to what was going on. There was no real
movement going on at that time. By the late 70s early 80s, the
movements from the 60s were dying out. We got into the movie when we
were put on stage to perform. It was just for fun. We never really
cared whether or not the crowd was going crazy or if they knew we did
a move right or wrong. We just went up there for ourselves. There
were no dreams of stardom, fame or anything like that. It was really
just done for the love.
Davey D: Did appearing in the movie Flashdance open up a lot of doors?
Or did you guys get any negative feedback from coming out of the hood
and onto the big screen?
Crazy Legs: There wasn't anything about selling out back then. We had
no concept of what was going on and what we were getting into. There
was no conscious effort by anyone to say 'Yo! Forget these people,
I'm gonna go get paid'. It was very rare when you came across someone
like that. Yes, Flashdance created opportunities for us. But we
never had to hear anything about us selling out. It probably had a
lot to do with the way we did it. We went up there raw dog. We
didn't go up there and try and candy coat it or anything like that.
The only time things got weird was when we were tied into Virgin
records and they wanted us to do some flimsy stuff. We were always
Davey D: I remember your record "Hey You Rocksteady Crew. Was that
you guys singing?
Crazy Legs: You know that was a bittersweet thing. During that whole
process we were basically raped. No one had any idea that a song was
being recorded. Everyone was told we were going to be brought to
Boston to see if you could sing for these people. Little did anyone
know that a record was being recorded during our audition. It was put
out by Charisma/ Virgin Records. It was top 10 in the charts with no
contract what so ever.
Davey D: And you guys didn't get paid for that?
Crazy Legs: We went through litigation. The record 'Hey You' sold
over a million copies and I would say that each of us made 7gs. [7
Davey D: Wow Welcome to the music biz..
Crazy Legs: When we were that young and the rug was pulled out from
under us in the mid 80s, it was definitely something that was hard to
understand. We went from being on all the first tours that presented
this culture to the world and set the foundation for what has now
become the music industry to having to having to wait on the back of
lines. That was a reality check for us that we weren't prepared for.
Davey D:I don't think anyone was prepared at that time. I wanted to
see if you could elaborate and explain how people like yourself and
Afrika Bambaataa went about introducing folks to Hip Hop..
Crazy Legs: First, before we went on the road, we brought that whole
scene to Manhattan to clubs like Negril, Danceataria and The Mud Club.
Back then it wasn't just about a Rap Thing. It was just a music thing
and how we expressed ourselves physically or verbally. There was more
variety and more of a universal feeling when it came to the music.
Being around Afrika Bambaataa and people like him, opened us up to so
many different styles of music like rock, punk rock, roots, soul, funk
and electrofunk. Right now its just straight and narrow Rap. The
clubs back then were way better then the clubs right now..
Davey D: Would you consider a lot of today's artists like a Jay-Z or a
Puffy to be Hip Hop or Rap? And if they are considered Rap, what
would it take for them to be considered Hip Hop?
Crazy Legs: In my personal opinion, Jay-Z happens to be one of my
favorite lyricists. I think he has incredible metaphors. He can talk
about the same thing and hit you from so many different angles and
from so many different ways and still keep you interested. Puffy- he
does what he does. I'm not gonna front, there's music that he does
that I'll be dancing to and just having fun. You do need that type of
music when dancing with a honey. I think its all valid, but then it
gets to a point where people should admit if they're really down with
Hip Hop or just down with the industry.
I actually have a great deal of respect for Ice Cube. This is
something that happened several years ago when I first met him. He
came up to me and said 'You you should hook me up with some
information cause I really don't know that much about Hip Hop Culture
and its history'. I really respected that. To me, it made him more
Hip Hop then most of these people out here cause he had the nerve to
admit that he actually did not know that much about where it came
Davey D: So what would it take for that artist to have that Hip Hop
vibe? Is it having dancers in a vibe or just general knowledge? Is
there any one thing a person could have or do that signifies they are
Crazy Legs: I think a person can be considered Hip Hop even if they
don't do any of the elements, but have a deep respect for it and
understand what it is and what it consists of. To me, that in itself
is Hip Hop. A person can be so into and supportive and to me, that's
all good. I think a lot of brothers out there are just one
dimensional. They're only focused on 'how they can get mine?' And
when the rug is pulled out from under them, those are the same people
that finally recognize and say 'Yo man, I remember you. They only
come up and say that after they lose everything.
Davey D:Let's talk about the dancing aspect a little Over the years
we've done everything from floor dances to the cabbage patch and the
prep to spinning on our backs. What exactly is Hip Hop dance?
Crazy Legs: All these dances like the cabbage patch and the prep, are
just trendy dances that can be within any scene. B-Boying is the Hip
Hop dance. No one should ever get it twisted. It was the one that
was treated as an art form and it's the one that was preserved. No
other dance was preserved that came out of the root of Hip Hop. I
would say popping, locking, strutting were adopted by Hip Hop. Those
were the only other dances that I would say were treated as an art
form within Hip Hop. All these other dances are just something to
have fun with on the dance floor.
Davey D:So are there certain criteria or certain moves that one needs
to master within these dances in order for it to be considered a Hip
Crazy Legs: I would say, in order to become a Hip Hop dancer you have
to know what you can't do. For example, some people just don't have
rhythm and they just don't have flava. I think sometimes, certain
people have to go back and resort to learning how to snap their
fingers to the beat again As you get into it, then you master your
foundation and you treat it like you would any other art form. You go
from step A to step B. I was fortunate to learn while it was still
being developed and I was able to contribute in my own way.
Davey D:many people who are into Hip Hop today were born in the mid
80s, after Hip Hop had already been established. Can they do things
that add to that foundation that was laid down from the 70s and still
have be considered Hip Hop?
Crazy Legs: Yeah, you can add your own flava to it, but it's like
this. If you're going to make some soup, you still need the water.
There are just certain things that you can not ignore or forget. My
theory is this; When you're out there dancing, you are partners with
the music, but you will never be the lead. A lot of people don't
understand that and they wind up running out there and trying to do
something for the sake of being acrobatic. It may wind up being
something that is obviously dynamic to the eye. They act like they're
off to the races. They just do moves and have no regard for the
music. When I go out and dance, I allow myself to dissolve into the
music and I see where the music is taking me.
Davey D:A while back we were talking and you said you didn't think
capoera had a direct connection to B-boying. Can you elaborate on
Crazy Legs: The first time I even saw capoera was in 1991. I grew up
around the original B-boys. I know about the original B-boys and this
dance [b-boying] was inspired by the way James Brown was dancing.
People took off from there. In capoera, your back is not allowed to
touch the floor. We as b-boys spend so much time with our backs on
the floor. We always have things that definitely manifest at
different times. I'm not saying that a move we do in b-boying
couldn't have been made up within another art form, at some other
time, within some other culture or some other place. But when it
comes to Hip Hop and B-Boying, many of these other things we came upon
like capoera moves was by accident. When I evolved the backspin,
which lead to the continuous backspin, which everyone knows as the
windmill it was by accident. The 1990 was by accident, I was trying
to do something else.
Davey D:What were some of the other moves Rocksteady Crew members
developed that are standard within Hip Hop dance today?
Crazy Legs: came up with the backspin in which you're whipping your
leg around and you spin around real fast and ball up. Then I came up
with the continuous backspin and the 1990.
Davey D: I bet you wish you patented that move.
Crazy Legs: Imagine if I was to get paid for that. You have moves by
Frosty Freeze like the Suicide, where he jumps straight up in the air
and lands on his back. That's a straight up Frosty Freeze move that
really hasn't been bitten because you have to be a little tapped in
the brain to be doing that.
Davey D: What about Mr. Freeze's move that he did in the movie
Flashdance when he slid backwards with the umbrella?
Crazy Legs: That wasn't an original move. He got that from miming.
He learned that when he lived in Paris. You also had the Lockers and
Electric Boogaloos who people would see on TV out here and imitate
Davey D:I had a conversation with Kool Herc and he said there were
some very distinct ways in which African Americans and Puerto Ricans
approached b-boying. Could you shed some light on that?
Crazy Legs: I think the difference is when the brothas first started
doing and it was at its infancy they weren't doing acrobatic moves.
That didn't come into play until more Puerto Ricans got involved in
the mid 70s. We then took the dance, evolved it and kept it alive.
In '79 I was getting dissed. I would go into a dance and I would get
dissed by a lot of brothas who would ask 'Why y'all still doing that
dance? That's played out'. By 79, there were very few African
American brothas that was doing this; I one say one other thing. We
always maintained the flava. It was like a changing of the guard and
all we did was add more flava to something that already existed. We
use to refer to it as Moreno style or Cocola style. That was just the
slang back then. There were certain Top Rocks called Latin Rock
Davey D: Did certain cultural things in your back ground influence
Crazy Legs: Naw it was you were either Black or Puerto Rican; The
bottom line is what it really all comes to. We all lived in the same
ghetto. There weren't too many differences. We were all on the same
welfare and we all lived in the same projects. The segregation didn't
exists when it came to Latinos and Blacks the way it may be in places
like LA where you have straight up Black neighborhoods and straight up
Latin neighborhoods. Out here in NY, my neighborhood consisted of
everything. We shared our cultures. You have brothas who have no
problem speaking Spanish out here. Brothas out here know how to go to
a Spanish restaurant and order food.
Davey D: What is Rocksteady doing these days? What do you see coming
down the pipe?
Crazy Legs: We'll hopefully we ain't on no pipes [laugh]. There are
two things I wanna do. One, I wanna open up a dance school that's
gonna have more than dance. Its gonna be an entertainment type of
academy. Two, I would like for us to put together one more time an
off Broadway show that's based upon what we wanna do as opposed to
what other people are telling us to do. We just wanna do our story.
We want it to be the Electric Boogaloos and Rocksteady Crew.
Davey D:I understand that Rocksteady has been getting involved with
Crazy Legs: Yeah, in fact we're getting a proclamation by Fernando
Ferrer who is the Bronx borough president and now running for Mayor.
The proclamation acknowledges Rocksteady as a group from the Bronx
that is helping to preserve a dance form that started out in the
Bronx. I personally have contributed to Fernando Ferrer's campaign.
We also have a non-partisan voter registration drive during the
anniversary as well.
Davey D: Lastly.. Shout out all those pioneers whom we should all be
trying to seek out and learn more from;You mentioned The Bronx Boys
[TBB] and The Salsoul Crew.. Who were some of the others?
Crazy Legs: There was Star Child La Rock, Rockwell Association, The
Zulu Kings, Rocksteady, TDK [The Disco Kings] . I also feel that a
lot of the outlaw gangs contributed a lot as well especially when it
came to the uprocking. There was the Savage Nomads, The Ching A
Lings, The Seven Immortals. There are so many contributors to this;
This whole culture was really formed by a bunch of stick up kids that
decided to do the right thing eventually. Thank God Hip Hop was there
from them to do..
FACT OR FICTION WHO'S STEALING BAY AREA SLANG?
It's no question that the hip hop community is one of emmulation and
recycling,both musically and verbally.And for the most part, the game
is good for paying respect and homage to the originators of the
concepts and cultures from which it picks and pulls from,for whatever
reason each induvidual artist/producer may have.For example,the now
defunct group The Lench Mob with the 1993 track "Guerillas ain't
Gangstas",quoting Bay Area MOBB music legend Spice 1's trademark ,"and
if you ever disrespect me I'ma bank ya!" they also said peace to
Spice,which gave the Bay Area proper recognition for our culture and
it's contribution to the rest of the hip hop world.
TIMES HAVE DEFINITLEY CHANGED SINCE THEN . Today, the Bay Area sets
an abundance of trends and gets little if not any recognition for the
contributions we have given to the game.Equally important is the
blaitant "jacking" of our slang and production by both underground and
mainstream artists.Last and most important,the lack of truthfulness
behind the origin of these contributions when explained by the artists
that pick and pull at the Bay Area's MOBB music culture. With that
being said,I figured that we play a little game of "FACT OR FICTION",
just to make my point more clearer.
FACT OR FICTION?:
SNOOP DOGG IS THE ORIGINATOR OF THE TERMS
"FA SHIZZLE" "PLEASE BELEIVE IT" AND "NEPHEW"!
FICTION:The term "FA SHIZZLE" is actually just another way to say"FA
SHEEZY",which was invented by Oakland's 3x KRAZY,and quoted by E-40 on
his 1996 release,"THE HALL OF GAME".The song was called "RECORD
HATERS" where E-"FEEZY" stated," My patna's 3x krazy laced me, taught
me how to say FA SHEEZY". The other terms that came out of 'FA
SHEEZY' was the term 'OFF THE HEEZY' which later spun off to phrases
like 'OFF THE CHAIN', 'OFF THE HOOK', 'OFF THE MEAT RACK'
SNOOP DOGG was first noticed saying "FA SHIZZLE MY NIZZLE" on the
beginning of his video for "SNOOP DOGG",off"THE LAST MEAL" which was
released in late 2000/early 2001."PLEASE BELEIVE IT" and "NEPHEW"
originated on the releases by Vallejo's MAC SHAWN "MUSIC FO THE MOBB"
and "MIND OF A PIMP, HEART OF A GANGSTA" by MAC DRE in 1999.The term
"NEPHEW" was a penitentary term that bled over into the Bay Area
streets and from the streets to the rap game in 1994 with the release
"STRAIGHT GAME" by Vallejo's YOUNG D BOYZ,and various projects from
former DEF JAM artist,Oakland's RICHIE RICH.
Editor's note: When this article first ran Mr Kane aka Kokane who is
down with Snoop Dogg went on record to say that he actually coined the
phrase 'Fa Shizzle My Nizzle'. But it's still a spin off of the
phrase Fa Sheezy.
FACT OR FICTION?:
JAY-Z STARTED FOUNDED THE TERM "PARKING LOT PIMPING",AND HIS LABELMATE
CAMRON STARTED THE TERM "OH-BOY"!
FICTION: The term "Parking Lot Pimpin'" was a Bay Area way of saying
you couldn't get up in the club for what ever reason and you were
going to hang in the parking lot outside the club.This was first put
on the map by Hayward Cali's DEN GEE, known then as the 187 FAC.Their
1997 release "FAC NOT FICTIO N" contained the same titled track as
JIG'S, but the hook was not as commercial.As for Cam and "OH-BOY",that
was also a Bay Area term that was being said on the streets and bled
over into the MOBB music by 1998 being heard on various projects,but
the history was documented on the 1999 release by San Francisco's DON
CISCO,who's album was titled "OH-BOY".JIG's release hit in 2000 and
CAM'S can be heard on almost every top 40 station as you read this
FACT OR FICTION?:
ARTIST LIKE USHER, P-DIDDY, NORE, SNOOP DOGG AND NUMEROUS OTHERS
WERE THE FIRST TO SHOW US HOW TO POP COLLARS..
FICTION:All one has to do is go back to the 1994-95 release of San
Francisco's Tha Network which featured Messy Marv and San Quinn.
There you will hear the hit song 'Pop Yo' Collars' which sampled the
song 'Single Life' by Cameo. Since then there have been way too many
Bay Area songs hawking the 'Pop Yo Collar' theme to keep count.
Everyone from MC Hammer to E-40 have put out 'Popping Collar songs.
In fact Hammer released a video a couple of years ago that highlighted
all the ways one can 'pop collars'. The song was featured at the end
of his recent VHI Special.
OTHER FACTS THAT NEED TO GO ON RECORD...
The overused term PLAYA HATERS was first coined by Filthy Phil of
Richmond, California which was home to Master at that time. The
phrase 'playahata' was put in his song 'Consequences' which came out
in the late 80s. It initially was used in relationship to the
Richmond police who were known as Cowboys. RPD was featured on '60
Minutes' because they were so off the hook. The police in Richmond
were known as 'Haters' while the brothas on the block called
themselves 'Playas' hence the phrase 'Playa Haters'.
Vallejo rapper SUGA T of the Click. It was first brought the Bay Area
slang 'It's All Good' to life. It was first used on her album 'It's
All Good' back in '92-'93. Comedian Paul Monney used to to reference
her and that phrase when he would do his routine.
Finally the exaggerated pronounciation of the word 'BITCH' which is
often said like 'BEEEYATCH', was immortalized by Oakland rapper TOO
SHORT. He first spit this game as far back as 1983. He initially used
the phrase not to reference women but as a way to evoke crowd
reaction. Instead of doing like other rappers at the time and and get
everyone to say 'HO!' or 'OH YEAH' he flipped it and got everyone to
say 'BEEEYATCH'... The term has been adapted by far too many rappers
to name off..
and that's REALTALK.
The FNV Newsletter c2002
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