Wednesday, 5 August 2009

What's in a Name...

I recently had a discussion with Lamine from France.
He was wondering why most dancers etc on this scene have psuedo names.
Whereas most French dancers keep their original names.
Why Renegade? Why JustDoIt? Why Mouse?
It was a question that had come up before, but from the other perspective.
I've been asked on occasion 'How come French dancers use their real names?'
I had thought about it but never took the time to ask anyone who might know so the answer eluded me.

This is easier to understand now after the talk with Lamine.
Culturally, most of the 'street' dancers in France are from immigrant backgrounds. Algeria, Morocco, etc.
It seems that many of their parents would be offended if they chose to be known by another name than was given to them.
On the other hand, in the 'west' there is a tradition that stretches waaaay back, of having an alias or nickname. Sometimes to the degree that it's used more than ones original name.
Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong, Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel, Norma Jeane Baker (Marilyn Monroe) immediately spring to mind.
Interestingly, many Brazilian dancers keep their original name also...Pelezihno, Neguin, Bidu. I need to find out why.
A discussion for another day.



A definitive work has just been published.
The first, and only of it's kind ever done.

It's a book on the strategies of battling as applied to the art of breaking.
Written by, in my opinion, one of the foremost experts in the field and student of the art, Alien Ness.
Ness has a deep history in the game which I won't go into here, but suffice to say, the guy knows what he's talking about.
He's been putting in work for many a year and is living proof that u can keep building and contributing as long as u want.

As a mixture between a pamphlet and a book, the Art of Battle(AOB) is filled with reams of information that, in this day and age of staged battles, are extremely relevant and useful.
Invaluable to both competitors and judges, it covers many of the main issues of battling and an insight into how said battles may be viewed.
Many people don't understand the science of staged battles, how to approach them, how they are judged, how to increase one's chance of winning etc.
As an example many dancers don't realise that almost all judges use a round per round system.
Some still think that battles are judged as a 'whole'.
This book makes an attempt to look at all of this and find some type of resolution.
Whether it succeeds or not I'll leave for the buyer to decide, but trust me...u won't be disappointed.

The book is divided into 4 main parts, but really it's just one long structure.
It's written in a very free-flow/stream of conciousness manner as if he's having a conversation with the reader or holding a seminar.
For me, in a subject of this nature, it is the perfect approach.
We are, afterall, dealing with scientific art and artistic science.
We are artists, but to enable judging to be consistent and make any sense we need to look at it scientifically.

U can tell he put a lot of thought and work into this book. It's filled with so many tips we take for granted but often sleep on. ie "In a crew competition, maintain an orderly line that's clear from the dance floor."
Seems obvious, right?
Now take a look at as many battles on youtube or dvd/video that u can find and see how many times this 'rule' is broken!!

Another example: "Never steal rounds".
Huh? Many crews do this. But as Ness states; no stolen runs are ever judged by any judge he has ever met. He can also add any I have met as well. It's a waste of energy and a blatant waste of what could potentially be a good round. Either by spoiling the original run or 'throwing away' a good one.
Imagine a situation where Cico does that and hits a nice 25 round '90 that won't be counted!!
Save that stuff for the cypher battles.

This information is all within the first few pages!! Believe me, ure on to a good one here.

Cop it:


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Soul Mavericks...

It's 2009. Soul Mavericks is now 4 years old!!
I formed the crew in 2005.
The UK scene was HURTING!

At the time there were a number of reasons for making the crew, but the main ones were a chat I had with Storm and Raphael in Denmark and another with Poe 1, also in Denmark, on another occasion.
They basically advised that if I felt the scene was so bad in the UK, I should do something about it!

When I returned from Denmark I started to ask around who was interested in going to the next level.
I could see we had some good potential here but a severe lack of direction and instruction.

I asked Mouse if he would lead the team and he agreed. He was my brother's old breaking partner and a real light shining through the darkness.
With him on my side confidence was assured.

Next step was seeing who else was serious.
I had had my eye on quite a few dancers who were on the brink of giving up or were going nowhere with their own crews.
It was offered as a type of sabbatical. "Take a year off from your crew and if this doesn't work out, you are free to return to whatever you were doing before."
The only stipulations were that they could only rep one crew and they would train as hard as I made them. No excuses.
If I could do the drills, they could too.
Gabs, Bugs and Lee from FDC joined.
K(Banner) and Lazy James from Foundations Crew joined.
AJ and Yujin from Having Fun joined.
Cake from Ghetto Lowlifes joined.
Maze and Ghost joined.

Also at the time I discovered that Hooch was offering a training spot to the scene that was completely free for use.
It was called Breakstation. No one was using it!!!
I asked him to put his trust in me and I would provide the goods for UK Champs.
No way we were gonna win but we weren't gonna embarrass the UK. We had just over 8 weeks to get ready with 1/2 the crew being beginners!
Looking back, the idea was completely insane.
Training was HARD!! None of them had ever trained like that before. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
We usually started after hours, 10pm, until 2 or 3am in the morning.
I had a full-time job at the time so I basically got about 3-4 hours sleep went to work, then did the same thing again the next night.
It wasn't just a place to train. I physically taught and advised them on everything I had learnt from various sources and stuff I had made myself.
We're talking concepts, vocabulary, moves, tricks, transitions, musicality, foundation, uprock, toprock, downrock. U name it, we covered it.
It was fast-track.
To think inside, roundside, upside, downside and outside the box.

Scene-wise there was quite a bit of resistance.
Even to this day I hear untrue stories about our formation and the effect it had on our scene.
Mainly I think people were scared and were happy with the status quo of mediocrity we had here.
Many of the naysayers have either disappeared or have remained at exactly the same level(or copying shit we were doing 3 years ago hahaha).
Haters came out the woodwork. If only they knew it was their hate that kept me on it even when I was completely exhausted!!
Hahahah. Idiots.

UK Champs 2005 was a trip. 1st major battle for newly formed crew. 1st round against Pockemon! WTF!!
The guys were completely scared. This was one of the best crews in the world.
But we would not go lightly. Personally I think we took the first few rounds until Pockemon realised we weren't rolling over.
I remember afterward Rudolf commenting on how close it was.
To this day people tell me that was the day UK got it's mojo back since Second To None times.

After Champs, I extended training to anyone who wanted to improve.
We were joined by La Familia, NT, Flowzaic who were my all female crew, Broken Jazz who I had spent time training previously, and one or two other dancers that were around.
I shared the same info with them as I had with my own crew. Forget Each-One-Teach-One. This was Each-One-Teach-Twenty.
As anyone who was around at the time can testify, the level went thru the roof.
The guys I was training were either winning or placing high in any UK comp we entered.

Sadly, Breakstation was closed down shortly after.
We had a good run and a lot of development had been made.

We also lost a couple but gained a lot more dancers since that time.

We have repped in France, Spain, Estonia, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Greece, Norway, Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Korea, USA, Finland, China, Hong Kong; and have battled the likes of Pockemon, Mortal Kombat, Flomo, Rock Force, FoundNation, 36 Chambers, Hustle Kids, FDM, East Side BBoys, KLP, RuffNecks, MonsTribe, Legiteam Obstruxxion, Submission.

SM Roll Call; past, present and future:

AJ, Angel, Angry Abdul, Azrawk, Banner, Big Ben, Blend, Bugz, Cake, Coop Dog, Dr Gabs, Ghost, Lazy James, Lee, Maze, Mid-Air, Mouse, Reckless-Lee, Roxy, R-Qi-Tek, Sam-I-Am, Sunni, Tyrant, Watch Diss, Yu-Genius, Zero.

SM Family: Darkstar, Debo, Fase, GG, Genesis, Ill, Jort Steady, Jurr, Killaman, Lil Bob, Lil Crooked, Moysex, Oby, Olly, Puyan, Reveal, Socto, Spin, Steady, Storm, SunSun, Ther, Wild Willy, FDM, Renegades, Rugged Solutions.

All have helped or contributed to our history and as such my appreciation goes out to them.


Monday, 22 June 2009

Russian Percussion...

Why am I writing a piece about Top 9?
Who the hell are Top 9?
Top 9 are a crew from St Petersburg in Russia.
They are one of my favourite crews in the world and some of the nicest and realest guys I know on the scene.
They first came to UK Champs in 2004. I was judging that year along with Cros and Storm.
I had seen a little and heard a lot about them before then.
I expected fireworks. They completely dissapointed me.
Not that they weren't good, but they weren't as amazing as I thought they would be.
That can often be worse than if you don't expect much. I mean, Russia right?

Fast forward a few years.......and.......KABLOUW!!
For me they are living testament of what you can achieve if you focus and keep your mind on your game.
Creative routines, original styles and flows, great strategies, convincing dance skills. Man the list goes on.
I've seen them at a lot of jams and they always represent. Ripping it from start to finish.

I don't know if you've ever been to Russia but IT IS A TRIP!!
The place is like an 80's movie. It has this air about it.
It's one of the only countries I've been to where I've felt nervous.
Don't get me wrong, it's very beautiful, cultured and all the rest, it's just...well...scary!
Anyway, there are no provisions or facilities for 'street dancers/ing'.
I'm sure there is a lot provided for ballet and other established dances, but breaking? Fuhgedaboutit!
These guys have to train in the worse conditions, lets not forget the Russian winter that defeated both Napoleon and Hitler(although Rocky did good hahaha).
Yet, they have some of the most consistent wins and performances of the last few years.
Robin, Komar, Kosto, Flying Buddha, Tony Rock, Rezsky, Simpson, Wolt; pffffft. I'd put them up against anyone and you know it's gonna be close.
They've won or placed highly in most of the major competitions in the world. AND they actually did the double by winning UK Champs and BOTY the following week in October 2008. The first crew to do that in the history of this dance.
They faced the amazing TIP Crew from Korea in both finals which is a miracle in itself. Most crews find it hard to place highly in just one of those events. These 2 crews had pulled out all the stops.
Most people don't see behind the scenes to know exactly what that means.

Long story, shorter.
TOP 9 had issues with their visas and had to travel to Moscow and back to St Petersburg then fly to UK.
Arrived on the saturday. Came straight to the event.
Basically entered all of the side events and placed highly or won.
Kosto then went on to win the Solo comp against 15 other highly ranked dancers from around the world and, as cherry on the cake, they won the team comp. Amazing you say?
They then went straight to Germany, exhausted surely, and won the BOTH best show and the battles at BOTY the following weekend.

That is MAMMOTH!!
In fact it's INSANE!!
They are beasts.

Add to that the fact that after winning BOTY they went straight to the judges and myself and were concerned to know how they had won!!
In this business of inflated ego's and posturing, this crew of most humble dancers were questioning their win. Not their loss, which most crews whinge about ad nauseum, but their WIN. It was a close battle for sure but the decision is down to the judges.

As competitors we have to accept it, right or wrong, for or against us.
I've never seen anything like it in my life. They didn't think they had done enough to win and wanted to see the video.
Are you serious? Take the trophies and run for the hills man. Hahahah.

Seriously, do a search for them on youtube. You will not be dissapointed.
For me, It's not JUST about how dope you are, I've seen a lot of dope shit in 27 years. What matters is when that dopeness tempered with consistency and longevity. Don't just 'POP' and stop, keep it moving, keep building, improving, developing, or do something else.

Anyways, I was having a moment and just wanted to share that.


Sunday, 14 June 2009


I need to do an update.
Been so busy I haven't had time to sort it out.
Plus, a few people said I should put pics and vids to accompany the text :-(
A picture paints a thousand words they say.
I agree.
The problem is I hate taking pics and most of the footage can be found on youtube, I'm too busy to DJ and film an event.
Maybe I should just publish and be damned. Sure there is a market for people who enjoy reading.
Yeh, that's it; I'll just write for them.


Wednesday, 18 February 2009

On Judging

We NEED a system.
I'm not gonna comment on any specific events or battles, but there have been a lot of weird decisions lately.
It's not even just the 'bad' decisions that are hurting the artform.
It's the inconsistency in the judging.
It's the blase attitude that some judges have when they are not paying attention to the hard work of the dancers.
When they say 'it's not a big deal'.
Or when they say one thing and judge for another.
(I mean, like what you like, but at least be consistent and wear your bias in the open.)
Or when they wait for the other judges to make a decision first.
Or when they disappear straight after judging.

I don't care who u are, what you've done or how long you've been doing it.
If you love this artform and u want it to last, it's time to grow up.
People need to be held accountable for decisions they make whilst they're being paid.
Judging is a job. Treat it like one.
Don't judge if you don't want to.
Don't judge if you don't care.
What I mean by that is there are some people who judge to feel important.
It's not a right, it's a privilege.
Take it seriously.

Jams are getting bigger and more organised. There are more competitions now than ever before. Things are going mainstream and we're old enough and experienced enough to get it right this time around.
Why is this very important aspect not being dealt with seriously?
You can't judge a 10/20 minute battle on what you 'feel'!!
You can't quantify 'style' or 'flava' or 'originality'.
You can identify when someone doesn't have it but you can't say 'A' has more than 'B'.
It's too subjective.

We NEED a system.
If we're ever going to be taken seriously.
It needs to be internally consistent.
It needs to be clear and eliminate as much bias as possible.
It needs to be holistic in that it looks at as many components of the art as possible.
It needs to be fair.
It needs to done ASAP so the scene can refine it through trail and error sooner rather than later.
No system is gonna be perfect. Get over it.

We NEED a system.
If we don't do it, someone else will.
Someone from outside our scene.
And you're not gonna be happy with the result.
Then you're gonna complain how 'they' took it from 'us'.
I'm surprised they haven't done it yet, but I guess we're not being taken seriously enough yet.
But they will soon. Unless you've been living in a cave you'll notice the signs.

I've had discussions with loads of dancers about this and they all agree.
Something needs to be done.

I had a long chat with Dyzee and Morris at HipOpsession til 6 in the morning!!
Dyzee's judging system is detailed and well thought through. It's taken a lot of work and effort.
He's very serious about getting it right.
I'm not in total agreement with his implementation but it's a great start.
Anyway...we NEED a system.


HipOpsession 5

What a great start to 2009!!

I've returned from my first big jam of 2009. It's called HipOpsession and is held in Nantes, a small city in the west of France.
This was my 3rd time performing at this event, alongside DJ Ben.
The hosts were Amjad(7$) and Nasty.
The judges were Born(Rivers/MZK), Hurricane and Cros1(Armory)

The format of the jam was; 3v3(16) and 1v1(10).
For the 3v3 you have 13 crews that are pre-selected and 3 open spaces to qualify for.

The 13 selected crews were basically the high level hitters; Hustle Kidz(NED), Vagabonds(FRA), FloMo(FIN), MZK(USA), SuperNaturals(CAN), Flex Flave(USA), Polskee Flava(POL), Rugged Solutions(NED), La Smala(FRA), Fusion Rockers(ESP), Lunaticks(ESP), Sans Limite(FRA), Tsunami All Stars(BRA).

The qualifier for the 3 spare places is held during the day.

32 crews signed up to battle it out from which 6 were chosen to battle again and 3 filter through for the evening event.

Unusually for a European event we had 2 crews from the UK.
Overload(Ippy, Reasonz and JustRoc) and Breakstation(Gabs, Angry Abdul and Killaman).
Both crews did well to qualify to the top 6 and were narrowly beaten robbing them of a place in the evening.

The evening section was off the scale!!
The venue is quite big and as such allows for the main event to happen while cyphers can continue off to the side.

The battles were great. Each dancer had 2 throwdowns each until the final which is 3 rounds each.
The final battle was won by MZK(Brookz, Omar, Smurf) v Flex Flave(Abe, Morris, Future).

There was an interruption during the main battles when FloMo(AT, Hatsolo, Mercy1) beat Vagabonds(Boss K, Mounir, Youssef).
Vagabonds were unhappy with the decision and proceeded to call Born out.
Needless to say, Born accepted.
The footage is on youtube for anyone interested.

The 1v1 consisted of; JustDoIt(JDI), Bootuz, King Foolish, Pelezinho, Kleju, Grazy, KSOne, Samy, Chuky, James.

This filtered to a 3-way final, where Bootuz was eliminated, which resulted in Kleju beating JDI in the final-final.

Providing the music for the 1v1 was FUSIK.
They are an amazing funk band from Florida.
When I say amazing, I mean you feel nervous having to DJ after they've been on.
I've been at a few jams where the music is provided by a live band. Sometimes it works but often it doesn't.
These guys WORK!
They play a mixture of classics and original material we bboys love to dance to.
Any promoters looking for bands to provide the right kind of vibe for their jam should definitely book these guys. Get them now while u can afford them!
No airs and graces. Friendly. Easy going. And SKILLZZZZZZZ. Look no further!!

There were also a few cypher battles after the main show.

Lamine v Gassama(Def Dogs/MZK). Again!! Hahaha.
Ata(Ghost Crew) v Boss K(Vagabonds)
Nabil(KLP/Vagabonds) v Born(Rivers/MZK)

The battles were heated and lasted a good while. Round after round of smashing runs.
The cypher was as tight as a gnats ass and it was very hard to see properly.
The quality of the dancing was 1st class!
It was one of those times where u knew u were witnessing something special.

I got to have a very interesting interview with Lamine about his view of the scene.
I'll hopefully post up the details when I have time.

Organisation-wise, I have to say this is one of the best events in Europe.
Promoters take note.

I've been to so many events where you feel like an afterthought even though you'll be providing the juice of the event for what can amount to 6-10 hours.
I'm not talking about being babysat, but clear instruction for where u need to be and when.

Even before I landed I was being taken care of.
Updates, consultation and info were provided by the team.
Hotel and food details. Schedule. Maps.
This thoughtful bit of effort goes a long way in making the right impression on your performers/artists.

A massive 'THANK U' to Nico and all the team at PickUp Productions.