lmost thirty years ago in 1977, the Rocksteady Crew came to life and set a standard in the Hip-Hop culture that would echo decades later. Richard “Crazy Legs” Colón, a then youngster with the liquid motion, evolved from a crew favorite to President of the Rocksteady empire. One of the longest standing crews in Hip-Hop, the Rocksteady Crew is much more than the league of extraordinary members that compose it. B-Boys, B-Girls, MCs, producers and activists alike, individually walk this earth to respect and represent this historic army in their own unique ways…with their leader Crazy Legs still standing and still dancing, after several surgeries and herniated discs.
Catching up with Crazy Legs on the eve of their annual Rocksteady Anniversary weekend, he recalls the events from the past and what’s new with the crew for the future. The legendary Hip-Hop humanitarian drops some knowledge on what not to break in, who not to invite to your party, and what the definition of Hip-Hop really is.
AllHipHop.Com: So what’s changed this year for Rocksteady?
Crazy Legs: [sings] I’ve got a new attitude! [laughs] You know, I used to get a lot of pressure from people to like get like a big headlining artist and that’s never been what the Rocksteady Anniversary’s been about. Basically, this year I’m just saying to all of those people, “Go to hell,” and we’re gonna keep this a satellite Hip-Hop concert event. I’ve got satellite radio, and I want this to be the satellite radio of events. So that’s what it’s been in terms of my thinking and just preparing for it, but outside of that…we really try to keep the same formula every year and that has always worked for us. I think it’s one of the things that people can really count on, and what usually happens is people are usually surprised at who ends up showing up out of nowhere! And that’s the good s**t right there! That’s one of things that keeps it different every year. We don’t even know who’s gonna show up sometimes. One year it was Wyclef, another year it was Fat Joe, people just pop up like, “Yo that’s the s**t I wanna do.” So that’s basically what’s going on.
AllHipHop.com: The outdoor concert is back in Jersey again. Is New York still slipping?
Crazy Legs: You know what? Sometimes you’ve just gotta go with what works. We had our fight with New York. The New York City Parks Department is real shady, just by my dealings with them and the fact that when we previously were going to do the Bronx event; the woman went ahead and lied to her superiors and all of this other stuff. We’re like you know what, man? Jersey is showin’ love. They love Hip-Hop, the mayor’s office is very supportive of Hip-Hop, and let’s go where the love is. I think it’s New York’s loss.
AllHipHop.com: Style-wise with your clothing and the proper gear for breakin’, what has been for you the evolution of the “breakin’ shoe”?
Crazy Legs: [laughs] Well for one thing, a lot of people are under the impression that we like to break in shelltop Adidas when that is not true! Those are some of the worst sneakers to dance in. Even today, we did the WB 11 Morning Show, and I was dancing and wearing some shelltops. Normally, I would’ve worn another sneaker but I was in a rush to go through all of my sneakers. And my sneaker actually started coming off! It’s not an athletic sneaker. You know, you’ve got your Nikes out there, a really dope AirMax. I like dancing in AirMax, or the Jordan Olympics. Those are dope: a light sneaker; it’s contoured. I mean one is made for running, but still something that works. We didn’t have that type of technology back when we first started dancing. So we have more options now.
AllHipHop.com: What would you say is the worst clothing to break in?
Crazy Legs: The worst? That’s a personal preference, but I hate dancing in jeans. I hate it. That’s like my worst nightmare! That to me is the same as like dancing in a suit.
AllHipHop.com: It’s funny because now that everyone is breakdancing in commercials, you see everybody, especially girls spinning around in tight jeans.<br?
Crazy Legs: Those are stretching jeans, because maaan! Yeah, the girls know what they’re doing [laughs].
AllHipHop.com: There’d be a lot of rips and tears if they weren’t.
Crazy Legs: Yeah [laugh]. Like the guys, for me, I wear them a little bit baggier, a heavier material. Those stretchy jeans for girls, are contoured I believe, but at the same time light and stretchy. That works for a lot of the b-girls out there.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of fashion, you had a fashion show a few years back mixing Punk with Hip-Hop.
Crazy Legs: Yeah! Punk Rock Rap.
AllHipHop.com: Did you take part in the Punk culture at all, being that’s a similar subculture like Hip-Hop?
Crazy Legs: Well when we first started hitting the downtown scene, our manager at the time in 1982, her name was Cool Lady Blue, she moved to New York from the UK. She used to work with Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols, and groups like that. Her being a Punk rocker caused this fusion between Hip-Hop and Punk. She was throwing the first Hip-Hop event in Manhattan in a club called Negril. It was called “Wheels of Steel Night” at Negril. It eventually went to Danceteria, and then to the Roxy. But the crowd that was going there was pretty much a Rastafarian, Punk rocker crowd and B-oys. The way that worked out was Negril was pretty much a Reggae club, a Punk rock promoter going in there. Next thing you know, it moved to Danceteria, which had three floors: Hip-Hop, Punk, and Reggae. The Roxy always had this culture clash that the press was telling everyone to witness. You had people coming out there like David Bowie, Farrah Fawcett, and Andy Warhol. People like Laurence Fishburne used to hang out there, Mario Van Pebbles, Rocksteady, it was one of the first places New Edition performed at in New York. It became this whole spectacle that people came to watch these three cultures coming together. We didn’t know what the hell was going on. We were just chillin’ and having fun. The older people were, I guess, impressed with the fusion going on at the time.
AllHipHop.com: Now that you [Rocksteady] are grown up, do you see that light in the younger kids to carry on Rocksteady?
Crazy Legs: Yeah. The younger generation that we have in Rocksteady is schooled by us, as well as them having their own identity that always plays a role in Rocksteady. We always try to recruit people that have individuality. For instance, you have [Popmaster] Fable, the Vice President of Rocksteady for years. Fable was also into Punk, he was a Punk rocker; he was a Hip-Hopper. So diversity is good. I would prefer more diverse people because Hip-Hop now compared to the ‘70s and early ‘80s, it’s completely different. Everything is pretty much segregated, and it’s like you go to a B-boy jam or a rap concert or a turntablist event, or a graf event. When we were throwing events back in the days, every event consisted of [all] those things. It was dope; there wasn’t overkill of anything. So I think this generation is missing out big time. There are so many people who wish they grew up in the ‘80s [laughs]…even if it was just for the drinking age. [laughs]
AllHipHop.com: You were there to witness how New York had the crown for so many years, but now everyone is talking about the South with regard to Hip-Hop. How do you feel about that?
Crazy Legs: I think they have the crown as far as commercial radio, not Hip-Hop. When you say Hip-Hop to me, I think of the whole B-boy scene, B-girls, graf artists, DJs. I think of everything. They may have this industry on lock, but that has nothing to do with Hip-Hop really because how many of those artists are really into Hip-Hop? If they weren’t making records, would they be throwing jams the way it was done back in the days? Probably not, because this is an opportunity for people to make money on something that’s mass-produced. When we did it, there was no money involved and we just did it…for many, many years with and without the money. So is the South ruling Hip-Hop? Not even close.
AllHipHop.com: You’re going on record saying that too [laughs].
Crazy Legs: Oh no doubt. They’re [the South] not ruling Hip-Hop. They may be running the rap game on a commercial level, I’ll give them that…and what they do is dope. At the same time, I believe there needs to be more of a balance between all the styles of music out there. All styles of rap and party music and s**t like that, you know, but um, there are cities that are stronger for different elements of Hip-Hop.
AllHipHop.com: What’s your opinion of krumpin’?
Crazy Legs: I think they should do their thing and get their shine on. I don’t really know the history of krumpin’. We actually worked on a couple of projects with Tommy the Clown and some of his boys; we did that actually with Daddy Yankee for two shows. They’re good people, they do their thing and more power to them. There’s no, “Oh, we hate that krumpin’ s**t;” nothing like that [laughs].
AllHipHop.com: Definitely not! So how do you go about choosing who gets to participate in the Anniversary each year?
Crazy Legs: I usually reach out to people. Then we have a lot of people that just call us, because they know the type of crowd that’s gonna be there, so they know that it’s probably their core audience that buys their records on an underground level. There are people that just love Hip-Hop. Then we get sponsors. I really try to stay away from the record labels as much as possible, because record labels cause the most problems when they come in as sponsors.
AllHipHop.com: Were there ever any artists that you’ve actually turned down?
Crazy Legs: If an artist comes in that wants to perform and we aren’t really familiar with them, we have to take into consideration that the outdoor event is a free event, and there’s gonna be women and children there. There has to be a certain level of restraint when you’re on that stage. I’m not trying to control what they do as artists, but if you can at least keep in mind what you’re putting together for your show. It would be cool if you didn’t go acapella like, “Muthaf**k this, f**k you, and f**k that, this f**kin’ place!” [laughs]. You know what I mean? We have to take all that stuff into consideration. I’m not gonna say who I’ve turned down, but um we’ve had situations where label execs come up to us and say, “I’ve got [x] amount right now. Here’s the money right here. Let my artist go on for five minutes.” I’m like, “I don’t know who your artist is, you’re buggin’, and you’re insulting my integrity right now.” <br<
AllHipHop.com: This year’s big major label artist is Rhymefest…
Crazy Legs: Yup, and Rhymefest has a buzz. To tell you the truth, I don’t know much about him, but I have enough people around me that work through Fat Beats, and Q-Unique and Tony Touch; DJ’s who’ve advised me like, “Yo we recommend that you put this guy on.” I’m like, “Aight, cool. I don’t know him, but you’re vouching for him.” But then I’ll go to their websites also and listen to their music so I’m not a complete idiot [laughs].
AllHipHop.com: Rhymefest always brings Kanye West with him, so you never know…
Crazy Legs: We’d love to have Kanye West, ya know? I think that would be dope. Kanye West is pretty commercial, but has a certain appeal to the underground.