I got in to L.A. on Thursday the 26th, and after a brisk three-hour walk down Crenshaw Boulevard to USC, I was ready to see some of the best crews in the world training to perform on a grand scale. (With dancers from Japan, France, and Finland, among other countries, there definitely was an international vibe in the air.) So there I was at the Bing Theater witnessing the Street Style International Lockers, Motion Sickness, and Ground Zero Crew from Miami put on creative, innovative routines. My two favorite crew performances, however, were from Lil Boogz and Style Elements. The latter used some dope concepts from the horror movie The Ring, incorporating things like the unforgettable phone-call warning scenes into their work. Afterwards, a few homies and I went to Project Blowed's weekly open mic, Good Life. I haven't seen so many emcees gathering in one place since Brainstorm, and to think it's like that every week is rather frightening.
The following day in Alameda, there was a dope b-boy panel that got into a very controversial topic with the WBF (World Breakdancing Federation) about making b-boying a dance sport and creating one common set of criteria to use when judging battles. As expected, there were some who were venomously opposed to this idea, so definitely expect to see this topic come up again, as it touched a nerve with a lot of people there. As far as larger discussions went, though, the emcee panel was definitely my favorite of the weekend. It featured Rahzel, activists Khalil Jacobs-Fantauzzi and J-Love, as well as Freddie Foxxx, who pretty much commanded the discussion and broke down the way the industry works, for better or worse. Panel discussions like this can be very uplifting and inspirational, but their true productivity always remains to be seen until afterwards, when you really find out if words turn into action.
Competition-wise, I want to send shout-outs to Fidget and Remz from Fraggle Rock and Rage and Tim from Massive Monkees for repping Seattle hard in the footwork flavor competition. Tim got to the semifinals, making a strong impression on the crowd and the judges in an event that T-Rock from Rock Steady Crew ended up taking. On the closing day, showcasing more circles than a cornfield in Iowa, the finals took place with the Barbecue girls from Finland roasting the competition in the b-girl battle, Gemini and Sallyslide winning the locking and popping battles respectively, and Ground Zero narrowly beating out Killafornia in a very controversial judging decision that garnered a lot of booing.
The summit also included an emcee showcase, where everyone from the likes of Brother J of the X-Clan to Jayo Felony did their thing. My personal favorite was definitely the performance by Freddie Foxxx, AKA Bumpy Knuckles, who held the crowd's rapt attention--I pity the fool that woulda walked away during his set and had to deal with Bumpy's wrath afterwards. Also giving memorable performances throughout the summit were Styles of Beyond--there to promote their new album, Megadef--as well as Planet Asia and Large Professor, who made all the b-boys happy by doing several Main Source classic anthems, including "Live at the Barbeque," "Fakin the Funk," and "Lookin at the Front Door."
After the summit was over, I swung by the legendary Roxy on Sunset Boulevard to catch the finale show of the My Way & the Highway Tour that hit Seattle a few weeks ago, then rolled down to the Style Wars DVD release party where director Tony Silver was there autographing posters.
All in all a very fun weekend, with four days of hiphop culture that didn't start any violence--but you won't see that positive angle hyped up in the mainstream media. So let it be known that this year's B-Boy Summit Uprising was nothing but love. I have to send a huge shout-out to Asia One and the No Easy Props crew for dedicating a lot of time and energy into making this four-day event educational, fun, and inspiring. SAMUEL L. CHESNEAU
REQUIRED LISTENING 1. Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s, "Blow Your Head" (Polygram)
2. Bobby Byrd, "I Know You Got Soul" (Polygram)
3. Chicago Gangsters, "Gangster Boogie" (Polygram)
4. Aretha Franklin, "Rock Steady" (Motown/Rhino)
5. Dennis Coffey, "Theme from 'Black Belt Jones'" (Rhino)
6. Lootpack, "Whenimondamic" (Stones Throw)
7. LL Cool J, "How I'm Comin'" (Def Jam)
8. Mos Def, "Close Edge" (Rawkus)
9. KRS-One, "9 Elements" (Koch)