Wild Style @ 25: Crazy Legs

The Rock Steady Crew is a testament to all the possibilities Hip-Hop has to offer, besides just rocking a microphone. As the legendary b-boy crew’s President, Richard “Crazy Legs” Colón is its most prominent member. Getting down with Rock Steady in 1979, just two years after its inception, Legs' graceful moves and soulful struts have been seen in countless videos, commercial and films, including Wild Style. Last week (July 23-July29) Rock Steady successfully celebrated its 30th anniversary. The week long celebration included panels, art shows, battles, parties and was capped off with a free concert in Newark, New Jersey’s Lincoln Park, which included performances by Naughty by Nature, Large Professor and EPMD. AllHipHop caught up with Crazy Legs to get some insight on the necessity of he and his crew’s B-Boy preservation.AllHipHop.com: From its conception to now, how have Rock Steady’s goals changed?Crazy Legs: Well Rock Steady was formed by stick up kids, now we’re doing outreach programs for kids. Major goal changes [laughing]. My goal with Rock Steady is to develop a squad that’s going to be able to continue its legacy. The problem with that is you're talking about a whole other generation that came into this game a whole different way and were kind of spoon fed Hip-Hop. So, if I’m able to develop a true leader of Rock Steady…there’s going to come a day where I have to pass the baton for the sake of keeping Rock Steady alive, not because I want to pull away from it. But sometimes you have to make sure that, in order to stay relevant, you gotta keep that next younger brother in there that’s going to be relevant to that brother or sister that’s a little bit younger than him and that person is going to have people that’s chasing him that’s a little bit younger than them. Because I don’t have enough in common with a 17 year old to make them want to come into Rock Steady besides its history. Once they get past that, the excitement of, Yo I’m down with a legendary crew, what is going to keep them inspired to want to continue the legacy? Chemistry with other members. That’s one of my things. As well as I want to develop a dance academy. [I’m] striving hard to get a movie deal, there are talks going on. Too soon to say that anything is going to be done but there’s some positive conversation going on, on that level. AllHipHop.com: What have been the biggest challenges of putting the Rock Steady Anniversary together?Crazy Legs: I would say because of the carelessness of the commercial rap industry, that has been our biggest problem. From insurance, to trust, and that’s basically it. You have all these government New York agencies that are worried about whether they’re going to be voted in again, worried about a bunch of sp*cs and ni**gers coming up in this place and fucking shit up. And when you come to Rock Steady, and I’ve been saying this a lot lately, when you come to Rock Steady Anniversary that shit is like going home after moving out of your mom's house and you come back and you get that home cooking. You go to Rock Steady Anniversary, it’s all about the love. I’m not trying to have the most popular artist out there with the most popular record, I want real artists up there that make a difference and really keep Hip-Hop alive. That’s why we ended up in Lincoln Park. Put it this way, The Bronx we were going to spend a lot of money. Lincoln Park, we’re barely spending a penny to put the event on, and that’s huge. We’re talking about something, we’re the last existing active crew of the 70’s in Hip-Hop. Cold Crush broke up, Fantastic Five broke up, Furious Five broke up, and those are all rap groups. B-Boy crews, New York City breakers broke up, Dynamic Rockers has a new squad but none of the original leaders are a part of that, so we are the absolute last crew in Hip-Hop that comes from the 70s, as a functioning group. And the people in charge—I’m not going to say The Bronx cause I got people in The Bronx, they show me mad love—but they don’t recognize the importance and the role that we played in spreading our gospel from our New York City around the world. And that gospel is the gospel of many urban cities and New York gave the inspiration for a several billion dollar industry, it’s crazy. WATCH VIDEO AllHipHop.com: What was it like being a part of Wild Style?Crazy Legs: Being in Wild Style was dope because we were on stage with the people we had idolized—Fantastic 5, Busy Bee, Cold Crush, ya know, DXT—all these people that we used to go to and watch from outside of the rope we were now behind the ropes with on an equal plain. So that feeling right there was like, Oh shit, we made it.AllHipHop.com: How did you end up getting in the film?Crazy Legs: I don’t have the slightest idea [laughing]. I think a lot has to do with the fact that when were doing show in Negril in 1982 and Charlie Ahearn and all these different people used to go there and we were the ones basically pioneering that world. We were just beating everyone in battles, we were the top dogs. Oh, the dope thing about Wild Style is that everyone that was in it—even though there were some people missing—were in it because they were at the top of their game based on skill level. That is one of the most honest and purest movies when it comes to who was selected to be in it as artists because there was no record label influence whatsoever. That to me will always stand out. AllHipHop.com: Have you ever felt a backlash from your success at being able to make a career out of your talents?Crazy Legs: Oh yeah, of course man. But you know what? It goes with the territory, I accept it. I got good people like Mr. Wiggles, Sab and PopMaster Fabel, all these different members of Rock Steady that I go to for guidance. Any good leader has to find guidance from the people in his crew as well. So they help me deal with that from time to time. But coming from the background I come from, some of my boys that were in Rock Steady ended up being big time drug dealers and me by association, and maybe a couple of things here and there, that led to me having beefs. Sometimes with the fame you have people coming up to you wanting to shake your hand but at the same time you don’t know if they want to hook off on you or they want to pull something. So I’m probably one of the most leery people out here. I’m aware of everything that’s going on for the most part in my surroundings. Most people around me are very aware of what’s going on cause when you come from a neighborhood that’s grimy, the dudes that never leave that neighborhood they can still have that same beef with you for years and you’re thinking that you moved on with your life. But they’re still living that same life, ya know, “I’ma catch that dude one day!” They there are the people that think I have more than I have and will hate just based on their mindf*cking of themselves, but it goes with the territory. I get a lot of love out there. I get a lot of love man, I cannot complain. So it’s all good.