July 24, 2004: Even when the birthplace tried to shut them down, the Rocksteady Crew managed to hold their annual free concert across the water in Newark, New Jersey. Representatives from the Hip Hop community, ranging from the mainstream down deep into the underground, came to support and honor the roots of Hip Hop. Performances varied from Pumpkinhead to the Beatnuts, as well as the commencement battle of the End of the Weak and of course, the Rocksteady Crew. AHH caught up with several revered Hip Hoppers, and here’s what they had to say about Rocksteady:
AllHipHop.Com: After 27 Years, how does Rocksteady represent for Hip Hop today?
Wordsworth: Rocksteady definitely means unity. People fly from all around the world to come to Rocksteady. People save up their money just to come here for this one particular day. It should be next to the definition; when people say Hip Hop, Rocksteady should be there.
Punchline: …That there still is Hip Hop today. That’s what it represents for everybody that feels that the culture is going to the left or we’re losing touch of the Hip Hop roots. It’s still here annually doing their thing. And it still gives us a floor to go up there and spit and do our thing.
Masta Ace: Rocksteady is Hip Hop. When you talk about b-boys and DJ’s and MC’s and graffiti, Rocksteady epitomizes everything that is Hip Hop. Every cat in the crew represents one level or another of Hip Hop and that’s why the event is always a special thing.
Pep Love (Hieroglyphics): I think of Hip Hop’s beginnings in the South Bronx and the fact that people said it wouldn’t last this long, but it’s still forever growing and evolving. The roots of Hip Hop are still being represented. I think the reunion basically makes people remember where real Hip Hop came from in the beginning in the streets. The creativity is not from what you see on television and videos. It’s right here in the community.
Domino (Hieroglyphics): Rocksteady represents where it all started. They are a piece of history because they were down from the beginning, but they’re a piece of the present as well because they’re always trying to promote all of the essential things that are real in Hip Hop. Even with all the jiggy stuff and the mainstream radio and corporate control of Hip Hop, they’re still pushing the same ideals of Hip Hop that were around 27 years ago and bringing all cultures together to do it. For me, this is the blood. This is the root of what I came from as well so I’ll always be down regardless with the Rocksteady Crew. Hiero came from this. We were 3,000 miles away and it still reached us and influenced us.
Casual (Hieroglyphics): Rocksteady represents Hip Hop itself. This is what it’s all about. The true essence of Hip Hop from graff to breakin’ to straight underground MC’s to commercial MC’s. It’s great for Hip Hop.
Pumpkinhead: It’s what we need. It’s pure Hip Hop from the root. It’s like, we don’t have anything like this and every year Rocksteady brings this to us so we can enjoy our culture and let our culture flourish. Instead of all the wackness you see on TV and you hear on the radio, Rocksteady is the opposite of that. Rocksteady is the pure form of Hip Hop.
Tonedeff: It’s the last bastion of traditional style Hip Hop left in the United States. In terms of festivals, in terms of just the overall event, in terms of b-boying – keeping the tradition alive, it’s the last thing we’ve got. In New York City it’s the last thing we have in terms of traditional Hip Hop. At Summer Jam for Hot 97, the turnout there is huge. Here, we have people who really really love Hip Hop music. They’re not here because it’s on the radio. They just love Hip Hop music and that’s the real difference.
PackFM: To me, Rocksteady represents exactly what it says – rock steady -like it’s not stopping. It just shows that the people who started this still care about it and want it to go into the right direction it started. They make sure every year people recognize what real Hip Hop is. Just to keep people aware that it’s a real art form, even when they were shut down by the city.
Poison Pen: Without Rocksteady, Hip Hop wouldn’t be what it is. It’s a crying shame how New York City gives them the key to the city and then at the same time kicks them out and we have to go to Jersey. I mean it’s not a far trip, but it’s a disrespect to Hip Hop as a whole. How can you disrespect Hip Hop when it started in NYC and generates millions and millions of dollars worldwide? Rocksteady is the backbone of Hip Hop period.
Planet Asia: They’re still keeping it young. Crazy Legs still looks like he’s 18. It’s 2004 and people are still Hip Hoppin’. I don’t think it’s different, the clothes have just changed.
Tony Touch: Rocksteady’s reppin’ Hip Hop on an international level. All over the world, we’re still touring. Whether it’s the DJ’s, the b-boys, it’s probably the most vintage Hip Hop crew in existence and that’s what’s up. Real recognizes real and that’s why I’m with the Crew. I’m just honored to be a part of it and a fan before anything; before being a member. Much respect to Crazy Legs and all of the pioneers.
Carmelita Sanchez (LA Wake Up Show): Rocksteady represents the Hip Hop family. That’s what I love about Rocksteady. You come out here, you see shorties, grandpas, grandmas, you see everybody. I grew up with Rocksteady and now my kids are growing up with Rocksteady. Respect to our elders, respect to the young ones coming up. I love Rocksteady, because Rocksteady is family.
Bonz Malone: We’re still taking on everybody. Yesterday the Chief Crazy Legs said it: Rocksteady vs. the World. That’s fine with me, because everyday that’s how I keep it inside my heart. It’s us against the world. Anybody who sees it that way has to stay current and relevant because that’s what it pushes you to do. And that’s what Hip Hop as a progressive art form is all about.
Ju Ju (Beatnuts): The same since day one, representing all aspects of the culture: breakdancing, MC’ing, DJ’ing, graffiti. Rocksteady is an institution. They’re like the founding fathers of this as far as New York is concerned. I don’t know what else to say other than if there wasn’t no Crazy Legs, there would be no Ju Ju. I know that.
Psycho Les (Beatnuts): They’re still doing it strong and it’s still love all of the time. We’re still coming through and a big big part of Hip Hop. We just all connect. It’s good to reunite anyway with people we haven’t seen in a minute, so it definitely connects everybody back up again. It’s dope.
Steele (Smif n Wessun): Rocksteady is representing the way they’re supposed to be after 27 years because if they don’t do it, no one else will. We who create the Hip Hop have to continue to contribute to the culture and to the motivation and elevation of Hip Hop and Rocksteady has been there from the gates. So if you don’t know what’s going on with Rocksteady and the Zulu Nation and so on, you’re slipping.
Buckshot (Black Moon): Rocksteady maintains the cultivation of Hip Hop. Everyone here is culture-minded. Hip Hop has evolved to a new level, but Rocksteady maintains the level it started on. There’s still people who love that and really live for that.
DJ Kuttin Kandi (5th Platoon): Rocksteady is still keeping Hip Hop alive. If it wasn’t for them showing the authenticity, the true culture of Hip Hop, Hip Hop today would be at its failure. If it wasn’t for them alot of people wouldn’t be holding onto the true culture of Hip Hop. They keep it going and show the true elements of it. It’s all about the love. None of us are out here for anything but the love. I love Crazy Legs, he’s like fam to me; Rocksteady is like fam to me. Sometimes it’s more than the Hip Hop, it’s about the love of it. If that love is what holds us together, it will keep the music alive.
Az Izz (Outsidaz): Rocksteady is beautiful and it will never change. Hip Hop is Hip Hop. Rocksteady is the greatest thing ever. Hip Hop needs to go back to this in some of their videos or something. The fact of the matter is that Hip Hop is dimming out. I hope someone wakes up one morning and says, "f**k it, I’m just gonna do an album for the real Hip Hoppers." The real Hip Hoppers, breakers and backpackers, graffiti artists and real rappers. That’s real.
MF Grimm: Only thing I’ve got to say is that throughout the 27 years, nothing has changed and hopefully people don’t think that’s a bad thing. Because it’s not. This is just part of our life, man. It’s beautiful to see the younger generation coming out and continuing. Hopefully it never changes even with all of the obstacles from the powers that be. I love it and I will be here again.
Crazy Legs (Rocksteady Crew): I think we’re doing a great job. We have our ups and downs. Sometimes we’re in the light more than others, but that also depends on whether or not the light wants to shine on us or not. We don’t dictate what the media can do. It’s up to them when they want to focus on us. The most important thing is that we keep doing our thing regardless of if the media attention is there or not. That’s where the true love for Hip Hop comes in. It isn’t about doing it because we’re making money. This is a free event. A lot of money is spent on this event.