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B-Girl Memoirs: Rock Steady Crew’s 31st Anniversary

crazylegs-2

I was

born a few years after the birth of the Rock Steady Crew. That makes me too

young to remember the “good ol’ days,” but old enough to remember some fine

moments. As I grew older and Hip-Hop started to suck, I gravitated toward the

purer aspects of the culture [i.e. Rock Steady Crew] and became an avid

attendee at the annual anniversary.

 

Then a

few years back something happened. I remember it was Nas’ remix for “Where Are

They Now?” that began the downward spiral for me. I remember listening to both

of those two hour remixes and asking myself, “Das Efx? What are you doing now?” I thought a more

appropriate remix would’ve included verses from these retired emcees on what they

really are doing now. Do they have

healthcare? How about 401K?

 

What does

a retired MC do if they only had one hit during an era of being quietly pimped

by record labels and artist management? I started to view the Rock Steady Crew

Anniversary as a haven for these artists to beat their chests about how

different Hip-Hop is these days and how many people think “Hip-Hop is Dead” but

they’re wrong, because it lives in annual festivals where one song from the

‘80s gets you a spot on stage. That was my frame of mind for the past three

years. I still showed up every year to roll my eyes though, and would announce

“this was my last year attending.”

 

So the

Rock Steady Crew turned 31 this year. I figured, okay why not show up. That and

I had to cover it (laugh out loud). I headed into Brick City, NJ

with an open mind. The air was humid, the clouds were teasing us, and the sun

was playing peek-a-boo. Crazy Legs – the legendary

face and President of the Rock Steady Crew – makes his way through the crowd to speak to everyone he can.

 

These

pint-sized Japanese girls called the G3 Crew got on stage. They were clad in

neon camouflage with t-shirts sporting their G3 name. Imagine being the best

dancer you could ever be. Add in Ciara’s matrix, whatever it is that Chris

Brown does, and then the best of b-boys and b-girls. These girls still danced

better than that. When they came off the stage, one of them was in tears she

was so happy. Their manager was crying. It was really emotional. Even grown ass

men about to rap were teary eyed. The next generation had just hopped off the

stage. Then the

rain came. Oh good. It wasn’t rain rain; it was hurricane rain. Rappers still

performed, dancers still danced. Even fans played around in the mud. It was

like Woodstock.

Then the rain stopped. Go figure. The A.O.K. [All Out Kings] collective came

on, led by Fresh Daily, who was run over by a car earlier this year and has a

leg full of metal. “I’m walking at least,” he tells me, “but I’m in pain

because of the rain.” He was animated on stage like the bionic man. I began to question my

devotion to Hip-Hop. Had that been me, I would’ve been knee-deep in A Different World marathon on my couch.

Back to the lecture at hand.

 

There was

some hustle and bustle in the backstage area. Who walks in? Ice-T and Coco. I sit down and chat with Ice-T for a minute. He

tells me he heard “Crazy Legs was having a show in Jersey,”

so he had to come support. After a few minutes, I am asked to stand to the side

because a few Newark

cops want their picture taken with Ice-T. Oh the irony. A bunch of the Rock

Steady Crew stood around Ice-T for a photo. Then one of the members said

“Freeze needs to be in this shot,” and removes his jacket bearing an airbrushed

picture of the late crew member Frosty Freeze who died earlier this year, and

holds up the jacket for the shot. It was a sentimental moment.

 

A piece

of the show was dedicated to a female MC cipher spun by DJ Chela. Sara Kana,

Mala Reignz – who won a past Beat Melee on here for her song “BX Til I Die” –

Miss Nana, Patty Dukes, and Miss Rap Supreme winner Rece Steele all took shots

on the mic. Bahamadia showed up later on to perform, which was like whoa!

 

Let me

just acknowledge that Skyzoo, The Arsonists, and Akrobatik sounded like they

really did their thing, as did the Rock Steady Crew with Tony Touch, but I

didn’t get to see them since I was approaching heat exhaustion and had to sit

in a tent with a fan. I’m getting old, what do you want me to do? I’m sorry!I got my

second wind right around the time KRS-One walked in. Wow. He’s tall. Maybe he’s

actually very short in reality, but it was KRS-One, so he looked 8’4. I think

he is legitimately tall though. The Supreme Teacher looks like he’s been

working out more than just his mind lately. He was suffering from an ear infection, but listened very intently to every word I said and looked me dead

in the eyes throughout our whole conversation. It was intimidating, but

fascinating nonetheless. Just as we are getting into a good convo, in walks Fat Joe. “I had to come see my idol perform!” he shouts and runs to KRS-One and

gives him a man-hug. He asks KRS-One for permission to “warm up the mic” before

he gets on. Permission granted. KRS is like sure! Ever so giddy, Joe proceeds to map

out his short set list while KRS continues our convo. I hear Fat Joe in the

background saying, “Let’s take ‘New York’

out…this is Jersey.” Say what you want about

Fat Joe, but that man is a bigger rap fan than most, as I’ve learned from this

experience. Keep in mind none of the performers were paid either.New Jersey native El Da Sensei comes out and

performs some tracks from the now defunct Artifacts. As he’s about to finish,

Tame-One [the other half of the duo] comes out to perform. The EOW [End of the

Weak] hosts make El Da Sensei come back and they say something about how there

is no beef at Rock Steady Crew. Tame-One did NOT look happy, especially since he

had zero solo time and now he was forced into a peace treaty with his estranged

rapping partner. It was about as peaceful as it could be for two MCs standing

on opposite sides of the stage. S.O.U.L. Purpose performed with frontman Mazzi.

I heart him.

So surprise guest Fat Joe gets on stage much to the audience’s surprise. He delivers a

number of songs including the infamous “Lean Back” before going through a

series of Big Pun tracks and dedication to other rappers we’ve lost along the

way.

A side note – Buckshot was supposed to come and perform. Instead, the whole

Bootcamp Clik shows up without him. That was weird.

It was

time for KRS-One. From BDP to his solo work, KRS-One was golden on that stage. Fat

Joe stood in the background completely in awe. It was a monumental moment for

everyone, young and old. In speaking with KRS earlier, I asked if the young

heads have respect for the Hip-Hop of days past. He said they didn’t have to…it

was a whole different Hip-Hop that they were listening to. But at that moment,

everyone was listening to the same song…and it was a beautiful one.

Since

Buckshot was missing in action and there was time to fill, KRS-One started a

cipher. A pass the mic session starring the likes of himself, Fat Joe, Funky

Child from Lords of the Underground, Craig G, Hakim from Channel Live [yup they

did “Mad Izm”], Steele from Smif-n-Wessun, Black Ice, the Artifacts, and DJ

Premier and Marley Marl posted up on stage with the Rockteady Crew. I felt a

lump in my throat. I realized what a dummy I had been for comparing the Hip-Hop

of the present to that of the past. We can “Crank Dat” 364 days of the year

[well I never “Crank Dat” but still], but there is at least one day a year

where we can return to where it all started, and that day was today.

Rock

Steady Crew, I’ll see you next year.

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