Photo Courtesy Of Last Triumph
This past weekend I DJed at the 4th annual Groundbreaker B-Boy/B-Girl Battle, I’ve been the DJ since it began. I don’t do a lot of spinning these days and that’s mainly because it had become uninspiring. DJs and listeners were pushing further to fit the mold of the new popular scenes rather than allow the DJ the freedom to share their wealth of amassed music. Doing Groundbreaker refreshed my memory on some things in this Culture of Hip Hop that I think get overlooked too often. First, I also mentioned this recently in my Mele Mel article, but Breaking is what took Hip Hop international on a mainstream level and the Hip Hop Community tends to forget that and not support the Dancers like they should. Secondly, Breaking is the only Hip Hop Element, except Graffiti, where the participants actively celebrate the roots of the Culture. All the time when I witness B-Boy/B-Girl battles I see the dancers get hyped over the original breaks (IE “Apache”, “Just Begun”, “Scorpio”, etc…) and they also get excited about the 80s/90s up-tempo Hip Hop. That goes for all ages. Even the pre-teen and teenage dancers are being trained to respect the origins of the Culture. However, they don’t limit themselves to just that, they still get excited to dance to new music also, but they respect and embrace the classics. That is not a standard for new MCs, DJs, or Producers, where a vast percentage of them come into the Culture without really acknowledging the origins or generations of Hip Hop before them.
I’ve recently been discussing with B-Boy J-Sun to engage in some increased dialog from a B-Boy perspective more actively on the blog and beyond. I thought I’d just open up that door a bit while I was still feeling the effects of Groundbreaker. For those who don’t know, Groundbreaker is a battle that is presented by the Cowles Center and is held outside in the parking lot next to their building, Downtown on Hennepin Ave! The competition is always high caliber with plenty of quality crews. Plus there are lots of bonus events happening also. This year Ill Chemistry (Desdamona + Carnage) rocked a set, which is always action-packed. Dancin’ Dave & J-Sun performed, what I’ll call, their “B-Boy Beethoven” routine, which was incredible! Dancin’ Dave also did a super fresh solo set. Beyond that, it was B-Boys and Girls of all ages on the floor and me on the turntables all day!!
I brought along a combination of LPs, 45s, and Serato, but upon set up I discovered right away that vinyl was not going to be an option. How the DJ stage was positioned with the dance floor made the skipping excessive. I tried to play one record and it basically skipped every 5 seconds. Of course, that can be fixed in Serato with “internal mode”, but I still had to be on a serious quick hands mission. Every time I dropped in a track on Serato I had to quickly determine the tempo I wanted to set it at for the next blend and then punch it in to “Internal Mode” and I had about 4 seconds to do that before a skip took place…ha. It definitely limited some of the things I wanted to do, such as rocking doubles of breaks on the regular*, but it kept me on my toes and those challenges are great for building your DJ intuitions and trouble-shooting skills.
For a DJ like myself it’s the ultimate experience to be able to dig deep in your collection and come up with a unique set. I know the basics of what the dancers want; something up-tempo and has that Funk in it. Plus I know I’m rocking downtown Minneapolis where there’s going to be a vast variety of different people and I just love the thought of playing a collection of under-appreciated tracks and looking in the crowd and seeing people bobbing and dancing along to these Hip Hop Underground Gems that I know most of them have no clue about. Of course, I rocked a lot of Original Breaks and Old School Funk, but here’s some of the Hip Hop cuts I got a chance to play this weekend:
LL Cool J-Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?
Sir Ibu Of Divine Force-I’m The Peacemaker
Tragedy The Intelligent Hoodlum-Arrest The President
Da King & I-Brain 2 U
Pete Nice & Daddy Rick-Dust To Dust
Lakim Shabazz-Sample The Dope Noise
Black By Demand-Cant Get Enough
Kool G Rap-Kool Is Back
Breeze-Watch The Hook
Chubb Rock-Blow The Whistle
Chill Rob G-Court Is In Session
Dismasters-Small Time Hustler
Divine Styler-Get Up On It
DJ Chuck Chillout & Kool Chip-I’m Large
Nice & Smooth-Harmonize
Master Ace-Letter To The Better
D.O.C-Whirlwind Pyramid & Portait Of A Masterpiece
Eric B & Rakim-No Omega
Compton’s Most Wanted-I Give Up Nothing
The Jaz-To Your Soul
Double J-Double J’s Tantrum
Frescho & Miz-We Don’t Play
Nikki D-Letting Off Steam
Organized Konfusion-Organized Konfusion
Percee-Lung Collapsing Lyrics
Pete Rock & CL Smooth-All Souled Out
Also, I have some cuts from personal friends and/or acquaintances of mine that I feel should be getting rocked in B-Boy/B-Girl Battles on the regular, because they represent that new generation of tracks that works perfectly for this. It was dope to play these song to test them out and get comments and/or questions on nearly every one of them!
Qwazaar & Batsauce-Shake [BUY NOW]
DJ Format featuring Edan-Spaceship Earth [BUY NOW]
Jel-Time Signature [BUY NOW]
Felipe Cuauhtli of Los Nativos-Rebirth
Tate La Rock-B Boy Avengers
Optiks-Feeling Free Remix [Nicole Willis]
X:144-Immigrant Song Remix
Ant of Atmosphere-Get It To Get Her Instrumental [BUY ORIGINAL SONG NOW]
Sims & Lazerbeak-Burn It Down [BUY ORIGINAL SONG NOW]
BK One-Tema Do Canibal [BUY NOW]
NEW GENERATION B-BOY FLAVOR SAMPLER
Shouts to Looney Tunes who won the battle, all the dancers who came out, the judges (Daylight, Sequel, Kraze), J-Sun, Cowles Dance Center, Kathy (thanx for the grapes!!), and everyone who came thru to support the event!!
Written By The Ex-Popper/B-Boy Kevin Beacham
Photo Courtesy of Nick Abdo
*I did rock some doubles but it was a bit crazy, as I had to add the extra step of putting tracks in internal mode after each cut-in. Doing that and catching the beat on the quick break was challenging, but again…challenge is good.