Mittwoch, 28. Februar 2018

                                          Interview with DJ Imperial JC ( The Herculoids)





           
                                
Imperial JC









NORIN RAD: "My first question would be....when did you start breaking and what got you involved in it?"      

IMPERIAL JC:"Okay, basically what it was...back, you know, in the early 1970ies we used to live in a complex. It was six buildings and all the kids used to be in that one complex you know and everybody had birthday parties every month and we went to all the different birthday parties all through these years, you know? And they would always have dance contests, you know what I'm saying... and when they had these dance contests I would go in there and just like win all the dance contests. You know doing Michael Jackson moves... you know stuff like that and I'm having a big big Afro and all that and the kids that promoted the parties they would always want me to come. I went to this one party  which was done by a friend of mine who lived two floors down from me and his name was Steven and I seen him doing a dance that I had never really seen before, you know? Like a kool laid back type of dance, you know what I mean? They're doing that record "Africano" by Earth, Wind & Fire and that's the first time I seen dudes doin' some real smooth stuff and go on the floor. Everything was smooth! It wasn't going crazy, you know? 'Cause they was trying to impress the girls..That's what it was all about it was about impressing the girls...it wasn't so much about impressing the guys, you know? You would certain moves so the girls would go, "OOOH!!" So I learnt how to do those moves and once I learnt how to do them..I met a friend of mine at De Witt Clinton (high school in the Bronx) his name was Freeze...Freeze was a beast..a breaker of back in the days..he was more into going to the floor that type of stuff....and he met me one day in school and said, "Yo, I want you to get down with me!" I said, "Well, but you know I don't know how to do all that what you're doing. I know how to do what we're calling Freestyle....." He was like, " Nah, I teach you how to do it whatever!"Anyway me and him got together. We started a group called The Red Devils. It was like seven or eight of us and Freeze was the leader and Freeze taught us how to be smooth but also how to battle other guys if we had to, you know what I'm saying? But me I liked to do all the smooth stuff because it just looks better! And the clothes that we were wearing you didn't want to get your clothes dirty, you know what I'm saying? You don't wanna go through all that! So what you saw me doing when I came to Germany was the smooth way of breaking. It was called Freestyling. We didn't have a name for it...it was just something that we were doing because of the music. I used to be always known for being a good dancer from like 5 years old all the way until I was 16 or 17 years old, you know? "



"Africano" by Earth, Wind & Fire ("That's The Way Of The World" 1975; Columbia Records)
NORIN RAD: "From which part of the Boogie Down Bronx are you? From Highbridge?"

IMPERIAL JC:"Yeah, from Highbridge, yes! I lived in Highbridge.. right there on a 167th &  Anderson Avenue. Then we moved from Anderson Avenue to Ogden Avenue and that's where it all started really really clicking for me when I moved to Ogden Avenue."

NORIN RAD:"Okay, now you have mentioned those birthday parties where you used to dance at back in the early 1970ies...what were some of the venues where you and the Red Devils would rock at? Could you name some?"

IMPERIAL JC:"Okay, yes! Back then it was a lot of stuff in the schools, you know? We used to go to the schoolyards..166....Places like that! I got to see Clark Kent one time on Morris Avenue...there was a school on Morris Avenue and it was a big battle..it was Clark Kent against somebody and that was the first that I got to see Clark Kent dance and I can remember from that day on it made me really wanna dance, you know what I mean? Cause he did some things  that were ridiculous!!! He was dancing with the guy and pulled out a can of Raid!!! Sprayed the man with Raid and we all went nuts! Like, "Woooow!" It was something that we all liked! But..yeah, most of the schoolyards back then. JHS 82...  We was young, you know what I mean? It was kinda hard...we couldn't get into clubs so we had to go the parties that they were giving in the schools and then Freeze who was older than us he would be able to go to some of the clubs that we couldn't go to."



Can of Raid

NORIN RAD: "Like the Hevalo and those kind of spots, right?"

IMPERIAL JC:"Right, we was too young to get inside. So we couldn't go."

NORIN RAD:"Now you've just said that one specific reason for the first generation of B-Boys not to focus on the floor moves was that it was a must for you back then to dress fly for you wanted to impress the girls and didn't want to mess up your gear. This is something I've heard time and again. Could you describe how the B-Boys of your generation would dress like?"


IMPERIAL JC:"Okay, mostly you would put on a nice pair of Pumas, you know the suede joints (Puma Clydes)...with a pair of Lees...the bell-bottom Lees and any type of knit sweater or cardigan...all that kind of stuff. Like I used to have this brown sweater....matter of fact I think you got that sweater not in that colour but I seen you post it on facebook."

NORIN RAD:"Oh you mean that Alpaca V-Neck?"

IMPERIAL JC: "Yeah, that V-Neck, yeah! I had one like that!  I used to rock that so much they probably thought that's all I had! (laughs) I loved that one! Then the Cortefiels...I had a Cortefiel..I loved that Cortefiel..a black Cortefiel with the fur on the side ....Oh my God!!!  I rocked that coat so much I could throw that coat against the wall and it would stand by its own!
So much stuff.... Then we started rocking the Overlaps....I had every single colour Overlaps  you could think of..blue, black, light green. That was our gear so we used to rock that! Like every weekend...our good stuff, you know what I mean? School is throwing on some regular jeans all that but going out you dressed up fly! You know back then silver medaillons was big!"



Norin Rad rockin' that Alpaca V-Neck with the Mockneck and the Kangol



NORIN RAD:"Could you explain to me what a house medallion is?"

IMPERIAL JC:"Okay a house medaillon is basically when you see that medallion it looks like a house.... and then you have like Jesus or whatever inside the middle of it. And then you have the regular medallion where there is just a picture of a face of whoever. Mary or whatever...stuff like that! Mine..I had both. I had a round medallion and a square medallion. Now the square medallion was bigger and I had a little red diamond in it...a red ruby in it. And then when I started getting a little big for myself then I went out and got me a gold medallion. When I started rocking the gold medallion they always tried to stick me up. Oh yeah! Every time I would come in there they would look at me like, "He got on gold!" They wanna take that, you know what I mean?"

NORIN RAD: "From where would you get your jewelry back then?"

IMPERIAL JC:"I would go to a store called Jew Man in the Bronx. The thing about Jew Man...you had to go there with a couple of people 'cause if you go by yourself they stick you up! Take your money, take your clothes...so we used to go there with a whole bunch. And then we used to go down to Delancey Street. We used to go there right around holidays... yo know, Christmas time.   We would go down there and we would just rack up! You know, buying all kind of gear...cause everything was cheaper down there."

NORIN RAD:"Okay, back to breaking.  From what I have been able to gather so far in terms of information regarding the way the black B-Boys would dance it seems as if almost everybody would do certain kind of routines, you know characters. Like James Bond would do Get Smart with the shoe or Clark Kent would do Superman coming out of a phone booth. Did you and the other members of the Red Devils do these kind of routines as well?"

IMPERIAL JC:"What happened was... we were trying to be different than everybody else 'cause we knew that everybody was doing characters. So we told everybody to have a signature move...their  own signature move! Not somebody else's... So I had this thing called The Windmill...  what happened with the Windmill is...The guy that I'm dancing against, right? He would be standing in the center of my windmill and I would spin around and around on my knuckles and my feet... I would spin all the way around him and when I had come almost fully around him I would freeze in the air..BOW!!!  on 'em and I used to kill them all the time! Freeze's signature move was..he would do like some moves on the floor and then he would just run like towards the guy (that he battled) and do a fly kick type thing in the air and come back and freeze on his ear!! Then we had this other kid named Manny...Manny was kind of big...Manny was good with dancing up. Like he wouldn't go on the floor a lot but he did some time but he was good with dancing up...Like doing little things in your face to get you mad, you know?"

NORIN RAD: "Like intimidating you, right?"

IMPERIAL JC:"Right, right, that's right! Everybody had their own signature move. My signature move was the windmill."

NORIN RAD:"In that era B-Boys danced to the whole song,right? Not just to the break part as it became the norm later on, right?"

IMPERIAL JC:" Basically what they would do is...Everybody is like warming up, you know? Like we used to do easy moves until that break came. When that break came we just went nuts!!! Throw all of your moves out, you know what I mean??? So we would wait like... "Africano" the beat was hot....you went right down because the beat was at the beginning, you know what I mean???"Apache" you had to wait for it, you know?? "Bongo Rock" you had to wait for it..."

NORIN RAD: "What about "Listen To Me" by Baby Huey?"

IMPERIAL JC:"Yes, yes!!! Oh, that was another one!! ( gets excited) You had to wait on it, you had to wait on it! Because the break part comes after, "hear what I'm saying!" (sings) That's when you went nuts!!"

NORIN RAD:"You also told us when you were with us in Germany that back then it was also about how you carried yourself at a party, about being kool..."

IMPERIAL JC:"My family we're all from Harlem.....we are all originally from Harlem...so  everything was about being kool back in the day.....  it wasn't about being all crazy it was just about being kool. When you danced you did whatever you did.. jumped back on the wall and you was kool again!!!

NORIN RAD:"Like it was nothing...like you didn't even break a sweat..."

IMPERIAL JC:"Right, right, exactly!!!!  And the girls they would see that ..they would be like,"I wanna talk to him!" "Look how smooth he is! Look how he's getting down!" You know what I'm saying??? You would see how they were looking at you, how they were checking you out....and you'd be like, "Yeah, I got that! I got that!!" You know what I mean?!" 

NORIN RAD:"Maybe this sounds like a strange question but could it be that all those black movies that came out during the early to mid 1970ies like Shaft, Superfly, The Mack had an influence on you B-Boys back then? I mean the main protagonists of these movies were guys who would fuck you up in a minute and then be kool again in a second while attracting all the females to them at the same time...Was that an influence? Subconsciously maybe?"

IMPERIAL JC:"Oh yeah...these movies did do a lot!!! See we used to go to the movies every week. So we used to see every movie that came out, every black movie that came out and you know we would come out of the movie theatre, you know, that stuff would rub off on you, you know what I'm saying? People would look at you like, "Look at this little kid!" But watching these movies was influencing us to be kool and we took that with us when we danced because if you look at those movies when they're having their little parties everybody be kool. It wasn't no jumping around and spinning on your head it was just kool, you know what I'm saying?"

NORIN RAD: "Plus many of these movies also featured vicious beats that make you wanna go off!"

IMPERIAL JC:" Yeah, I love that beat from Black Belt Jones.....Even when I play that beat now...I love that... 'cause it takes you back to the 70ies, really!" 

NORIN RAD:"From what I have heard so far many of the first generation B-Boys would also incorporate the Robot into their dancing. Was that something that you did, too?" 

IMPERIAL JC:"Yeah, that was a Michael Jackson move!"Dancing, dancing..." (starts singing "Dancing Machine" by The Jackson Five) When they would dance to "Dancing Machine" they would do that Robot! That's where we were gettin' that from....The Jacksons!"

NORIN RAD:"So Michael Jackson was an influence too young B-Boys in the Bronx in the 1970ies .."

IMPERIAL JC: "You see the Jackson 5 was big to all the kids back in the day. We all looked up to them. Everybody wanted to be Jackson 5. You see them on Soul Train so you were just imitating them ...the Jacksons."



Michael Jackson doing the Robot on Soul Train



NORIN RAD: "And I guess James Brown was a huge influence, too?"

IMPERIAL JC:"Oh yeah, yeah..cause James Brown doing the split and all that stuff..yeah! Now James Brown he was a smooth dancer. If you could pull off some James Brown moves you were nice, you know what I mean? But everybody couldn't do James Brown so they stuck to Michael Jackson."

NORIN RAD: "So what were your top five songs to go off to back then?"

IMPERIAL JC:""Africano" is one...that is the first."Bongo Rock", "Apache", Dennis Coffey..."Scorpio"." 


Norin Rad and Imperial JC in Cologne, 2013


                                                             END OF PART ONE

Sonntag, 18. Februar 2018


                        Interview with the Original B-Boy Cholly Rock (The Zulu Kings)




                                           
Cholly Rock (The Zulu Kings)
    







NORIN RAD: "Where did you get that name Cholly Rock from? My guess is that you got it from that Funkadelic Album "One Nation Under A Groove". Am I correct?"

CHOLLY ROCK: "Not at all. I was born in 1960, May 24th, 1960 and I was born to a woman who had me as a teenage mother and decided, you know, for whatever her reasons were to give me a better life or whatever..she placed me up for adoption and so I was adopted at five days old. But my adoption for a number of different reasons didn't finalize legally until I was about ten years old, okay? And my adoptive father for whatever his reasons were wanted to give me his own kind of a name and so he gave me the name and called me Cholly. So the Cholly part of Cholly Rock is from my adoptive father and that's what everyone in my family called me. No one in my family calls me Anthony, they all call me Cholly. The Rock part came when I was about thirteen, fourteen years old and it came from one of my brothers in the Black Spades..a brother named Anthony Holding who was called Little Man and later on was called Tony Rome..and he was the one who started calling me Cholly Rock after a dude that used to hustle named Charles Moore..hustle means selling drugs, you know, a gangster kind of thing.By this time I was with the Black Spades, you know about that...Black Spades was the largest street gang at time in New York City and I was in Junior High School with Tony Anthony and we're running, laughing and he started calling me Lil' Cholly Rock. That's his man and that's where the name comes from."


NORIN RAD: "Your first encounter with breaking or I guess at that time the term "Burning" was used which you and others refer to as precursor of breaking...  

CHOLLY ROCK:"Yes, anyone who knows that history...who was a part of it in the beginning won't tell you any different. It started as Burning and then the Breaking and the B-Boy thing comes like around '74. You know, you had cats like Dancin' Doug and them who are the first of the first...him, Trixie, Sasa they were all doing it in 72',73'....around that time."

NORIN RAD:"So your first active engagement in Burning...talking about battling another cat..took place at St. Andrew's Church in Castle Hill, right?"

CHOLLY ROCK:"Yup. I used to go to a church called St. Luke's Episcopal Church in the Bronx. It's on 222nd Street & Barnes Avenue. I was actually an altar boy. I'm an altar boy on weekends, running with the Black Spades on week days and other weekends. I was at that kind of a life. I was in class for gifted kids but I also had a lot of misguided energy in me. Issues with authority I guess you would say. A recklessness..So I was in class for gifted kids but I was always in trouble. You know I wanted  attention and different stuff and that was my introduction to my friends who were in gangs. But anyway going to St. Luke's Church...you know the church and everything used to have dances and so we had a Little Boys Club at the church My best friend at the time..one of my best friends...was a friend of mine named Kevin Walker...he was known in the streets as Ben Richards and Ben Richards could dance!! He was a better dancer in the Burning era...he was a B-Boy, too but he started in the Burning era....when we're like 9,10, 11 years old (1971-72), you know what I mean?  So we would be at the Boys Club and Ben and I would be dancing. He was like, "Cholly, do this move!" This and that, you know? And we were very close and we were altar boys together.. went to the parties and we would be dancing and one of the places we used to go to party was St. Andrew's in Castle Hill. So we were there this is like 1974 we're doing our dancing and at that time there were a lot of girls who were breaking. They became less and less as time went on but there were a lot of girls then!!!  That's when I met my man Peppy..he was from Castle Hill...Peppy had one leg....and Peppy used to dance and whatnot...we were dancing to "The Mexican" by Babe Ruth...that's when I first heard "The Mexican". So my first start was at St. Andrew's Church and going to these parties. My crew, The Gun Hill Crew.. B-Herock, Cedi Moe we all grew up together, we went to school together, we were running with the Black Spades all of us..on Gun Hill Road. We would be going to Kool Herc's parties..that's how I first started going to Kool Herc parties...breaking, dancing, you know?! We were going to the Hevalo....seeing the (Ni**er) Twins, Clark Kent....in late '74 / '75 in that time period."

                                                                
"The Mexican" by Babe Ruth (Album "First Base"; 1972 Harvest Records)



NORIN RAD: "So Ben Richards was the one who showed you the ropes as far as Burning is concered?"

CHOLLY ROCK: "He is the one who first started me. He is the first who got me into dancing, yeah...in that style of dancing."

NORIN RAD:"How long did it take you to develop such a skill level that you felt confident enough to go against other B-Boys in battles?"

CHOLLY ROCK:" I felt comfortable after I probably had started going to more Kool Herc parties. When I first started doing it I was decent..I mean I had decent rhythm, you know, and I'm a good athlete. So you know I could do that.. for whatever reason Breaking came pretty naturally to me... it had a lot of energy to it  and I was probably a kid that needed a lot of energy to expand and so you know that came pretty naturally...dropping to the floor and all that kind of stuff...and when I first started, you know, being at the Hevalo I remember seeing the (Ni**er) Twins and Clark Kent and I was like,"Whoa, they good!"  Then I was with my man B-Herock and Cedi...what actually happened when I was going to church parties like I said..B-Herock and Cedi Moe they didn't know I could dance and who told them was my sister..cause they were friends and everything and you know they were at the park up on Gun Hill Magenta... and she had told them, "My Brother can do that!" She had seen me practising at home, you know? That's how they saw me one day and said, "Oh wow, Cholly you can dance! You're good!"We would go to little house parties 'cause Uptown..there was no clubs Uptown...if you wanted to B-Boy you had to go Downtown....to the Hevalo or the Executive Playhouse...so that's how that was. Uptown (Northeast Bronx) didn't have any clubs..they had clubs but they were not catering to B-Boys... they played disco type stuff. It's before the T-Connection had opened. So that's why we went to Kool Herc parties...so that's why I consider Kool Herc as the FATHER OF IT ALL. They can tell you whatever they want...the father of all this is Kool Herc...simple as that!! I would be with them (The Gun Hill Crew)  and we'd all be in the park...somebody has the music on or whatever...and we're in the park dancing or in the community center..dancing...you know we'd go over to Edenwald...they had parties at Edenwald and we'd go there...uptown they had Edenwald Center...we had a little room in Gun Hill..they called it a community center..we were there doing it...and of course like I told you before....B-Boy records...the foundation of Hiphop is B-Boys and B-Boy records...and they were not records that were easy to find.. so if you had somebody who had like "Apache"..."Apache" became popular  in the second generation or wave of Hiphop where they started making bootleg copies of it and then they reissued it ..but when it initially came out.. during the first incarnation of Hiphop..."Apache" was on an album..you know the Incredible Bongo Band..and that was a very difficult album to find..so if you found a copy of it you would like cherish it....I remember we (The Gun Hill Crew)  would go to house parties and we would bring our records with us...especially remember Uptown the DJs were more into Disco stuff...they didn't even have B-Boy records!!! And we would come in crashing their parties..we would bring our records with us.."Apache".."It's Just Begun"..you know we there and they didn't appreciate us crashing their party...we were (Black) Spades so we didn't have any beef...I mean we had beefs sometimes we wind up to fight at a party or whatever...but whoever was DJing we're like, "Yo, play this!" We bring our records and that's how we started taking over the party...started Breaking..started B-Boying and shit like that!  And as I was at parties and dancing you know my skills got better and I realized that I'm pretty good at this and by that time '75 I'm going to High School and I went to a prestigious high school..I was at the Bronx High School of Science. I come there and I'm a B-Boy now..you know you had people who could dance there and they are doing their little break moves but they weren't doing what I was doing, you know? I'm going to Herc parties....I'm a B-Boy B-Boy!!!  And so I'm down on the floor and I'm spinning and people at parties were like, "Oh Wow!!!!" Plus the fact I'm at a school for brainiacs so they like the fact that they got this human brainiac and they were like, "That's our boy Cholly! He can burn you and he is from Bronx Science!" And at that time I'm going to other parties at different schools...that's how I met Butch and Kase ( Butch 2 and Kase 2 / legendary writers  from the TFP Crew). Butch's girlfriend Lisa went to Bronx Science with me and when they came to a party they see this dude.. they are not expecting that...you know, it's a brainiac school and they see me and I'm burning ni**ers!!!! They're like, "YOOO!! Who's that???!!!! Lisa said, "I told you that's Cholly Rock!" And that's how we all got tight! So I'm developing this reputation..."There is this dude at Bronx High School of Science he's nice bababah..... They call him Cholly Rock!" So I'm starting to develop a little name for myself here and there and I'm with my crew with B-Herock and them so I'm developing a name Uptown."

                                                    
Whole Car by Butch 2 (TFP)
NORIN RAD: "How did you and your crew first hear about Kool Herc's parties? I guess they weren't advertised on TV or on the radio, right?"



CHOLLY ROCK:"No! Kool Herc was a word of mouth thing. He was like a legend already by that time...I heard about Kool Herc one from my boys B-Herock and all of them and then I used to go on the Westside and play ball (basketball). I used to play ball at Roberto Clemente State Park which was at the time Harlem River State Park...and that's you know Herc's stomping ground...that's Sedgewick Avenue and all that. So that's how I first heard about Kool Herc."

NORIN RAD:"So that was around 1974/ 1975, right?"

CHOLLY ROCK: "Yeah!"

NORIN RAD: "And the Hevalo was the first spot where you witnessed Kool Herc?"

CHOLLY ROCK:"Absolutely! The Hevalo and then the Executive Playhouse."

NORIN RAD: "How were you and your crew treated when you first entered a Kool Herc party? Did the B-Boys over there challenge you?"

CHOLLY ROCK: " It didn't work that way back in those days. It wasn't like crews challenging each other. That wasn't how it worked. We just were a crew..we all ran together. We had older cats who had our back. So we weren't worried about shit happening to us, you know?! And we could take care of ourselves... So we going there to party and dance and have a good time. We can do our thing..we ain't getting burnt off the floor nothing like that. There was a pecking order..the main cats were The Nigger Twins and Clark Kent...so we wasn't trying to challenge them. We watched them dance and we danced...of course you also had Bobo, James Bond all of them cats!  So going to these places we didn't have to worry cause we had people who got our back...but you also need to understand that if you were a person who was soft and didn't have any back you gotta be careful in there because you could get robbed....it wasn't all that peaceful...that fantasy that they are trying to make of it  ....like everybody just came there to battle it out... it was a place..you had stick up kids. Kool Herc would be on the mic...or Coke La Rock was on the mic talking about,"Eldorado Mike Mike is in the house!" or he'd be like"Young ladies in the house! Young Ladies in the place with style and grace !" You know and there's an echo chamber..see this is before the days of really rhyming...like elaborate rhymes and all of all that..Melle Mel and them bring that in... before that it was like, "Coke La Rock my mellow...yes my mellow...rock with the rockers....jam with the jammers..party with the  partyers..play with the players and party with the freaks y'all!"   And this was on the echo chamber....it was like, "ROCK!!!!!!......ROCK..ROCK..ROCK!!!! YOU DON'T STOP...STOP!!! STOP!! STOP!!!!! ROCK ON..ROCK ON!!!!" You know, all these echos....Herc and Coke La Rock would say,"Stick up kids don't hurt nobody!"or something like that because you had stick up kids in the place. See, it was an atmosphere where if you didn't know nobody or have some crew or have some respect you got robbed, you got stuck up, you got shot..all different kind of things. It was not some peaceful kind of thing."

NORIN RAD: "When did you battle Afrika Zambu in order to become a B-Boy of the Zulu Kings?" 

CHOLLY ROCK: "1976!  See the Zulu Kings, right? There is of course that narrative about 1973 and that's bullshit!!! I'm telling you plain and simple we were Black Spades in 1973. Bambaataa started The Organisation in 1975...and this is in his own narrative...when Soul Ski  who was the president of the 10th Division of the Black Spades was murdered by the police.  January, 1975.....him and another guy by the name of Meat Head Ron......and there was one survivor and the one survivor was the president of my divison which was the 22nd and that's Wild Man. So I'm very familiar because of all of that with the date of the Zulu Nation starting. I was at Soul Ski's viewing, I was at his wake. So I'm very clear about that.  Zulu Nation did not exist in 1973! Zulu Nation comes around late 1975 / early 1976 and I joined in 1976 that's when I danced in 123 against Zambu."

NORIN RAD: "Okay, and do you recall who was DJing when that particular battle took place?"

CHOLLY ROCK:"Absolutely! Tex DJ Hollywood on one side and Disco King Mario on the other..."

NORIN RAD:"Oh shit!! I assumed it must have been Afrika Bambaataa or Jazzy Jay."

CHOLLY ROCK: "No! Bambaataa was not DJing. Bambaataa was in the crowd watching the battle with me and Zambu. He was judging the battle. Bambaataa himself made me a Zulu King! What happened was I had gone to a party there before and the first person who saw me there it was Tex DJ Hollywood on one side and Afrika Bambaataa on the other side and I'm at the party and I'm dancing.......and that was an amazing thing to me because like I told you 123 was a gym and they had a divider so it was like two parties going on at one  and that was different to me and you know we are going to one side they're playing that B-Boy music and I'm going off dancing! That's where I first met Wade...Wade is the founder of the Shaka Zulus (B-Boy Crew)  and he's like watching me dancing...we're dancing together, breaking you know?! So he's like," Yo man, you're nice! I got a crew The Shaka Zulus!" and I'm like,"You know, I think about it!" I just dance...I'm having a good time..."

NORIN RAD: "Were Cedi Moe and the others from The Gun Hill Crew with you on that day?"

CHOLLY ROCK: "None of them were there. They didn't come to that side and what happened partly is...see before going to Bambaataa parties I started going to Flash parties because the person we heard about right after Kool Herc was Flash. Yeah, we started going to Flash parties..he wasn't Grandmaster Flash yet he was just DJ Flash..and that's how I met Fuji!"

NORIN RAD:"Do you recall at which park Flash used to play at?"

CHOLLY ROCK:"Oh yeah, absolutely! 63 Park! He also used to be at 23 Park which is over there by Prospect Avenue. That's where Flash and them would be at! And then Flash used to play at a club called The Garrison. That's where we used to go..on Hunts Point.....it was a basement. We would party over there like 5, 6 in the morning. They served food.. everything. One of my friends from St.Luke's Church her name is Julie...Julie Harris..Julie was a hustler..she could dance...she could hustle  and Flash had a crew that followed him around that hustled. Kid KK.. he had a crew that hustled...Kid KK was a pretty boy type of guy he used to wear his hair in a process.. in curls..he was a straight dude....he had women and everything and he could hustle his ass off and they had a whole crew of them. They were hustlers and Julie was one of his crew and Julie's sister used to date the guy that was running the basement at the Garrison  and they had a set of DJs named Sam & Dave...Sam & Dave played hustle music, they played everything and they had a certain hour.. I think right after 2 o'clock in the moring they would play B-Boy music..nothing but B-Boy music and we would go off! That's how I met Melle Mel....Melle Mel was a B-Boy, he wasn't a MC at all (at that time)...he was a B-Boy and he was nice..we called him Master Melvin...this is taking place in 1975/76...the Herc and Flash stuff all that is between 1974 and 1976....and the reason I say that is because that's what I was doing up until being connected to Bambaataa and the Zulu Kings....see my crew (The Gun Hill Crew) they didn't come with me  to Bambaataa and them. For whatever reason they wouldn't go there....How can I put it? Some people... not the Gun Hill Crew though..WERE SCARED TO COME TO BRONX RIVER..THEY WERE SCARED OF THE ZULUS. They did not go to Bronx River. I had no problems...I had friends in that area. Remember I used to go to St. Andrew's in Castle Hill...that's all in the same area. There were other people that I went to school with. My first girlfriend lived on that side. Tracey Beamon! The Black Spades were founded over there..that's where they were founded in Bronxdale Projects. So that's how I wind up becoming close with Mario and Tex...all those DJs Mario, Tex, Kool Dee, Bambaata..they were all Black Spades and because I was connected to the Spades uptown with Riley and Carlos and Amigo and everybody I didn't have no problems."




Bronx River...Home of the Zulu Nation


NORIN RAD:"Okay,since Bronx River and Bronxdale and all the places in the Soundview area were that rough how did the other Zulu Kings treat you when Bam made you one of them? Had Bam such an authority that they easily complied with his decision?"

CHOLLY ROCK:"Yes did they did but when I first came there they were resisting. From Mr. Biggs (MC of the Soul Sonic Force) and from Lil Monk (Zulu King B-Boy) who wind up becoming my dance partner...when I first came down there they were like, "Who is this fucking guy?" and they were like, "Yo, he's nice!" Like I told you I was at this other party dancing (at 123)  and I see this other dude  who is real nice and come to find out that's Squirpy..one of the Zulu Kings!"

NORIN RAD:"Shaka!" 






Squirpy a.k.a Shaka (Original B-Boy of the Zulu Kings)

CHOLLY ROCK:"Right, Shaka..exactly! He sees me dancing and he's like, "Yo you're nice! Say what's your name?" I said, "Cholly Rock!" Cause I had already gotten that name from my man...So he said, "Yo man, you wanna be a Zulu King?" and I said, "Okay!" and I knew bout the Zulu Kings, right? About Bambaataa..like I said my man Evans was telling me about Bambaataa, his cousin Bambaataa....Evans was the dude.. I think I told you...I burnt him on the staircase?" 

NORIN RAD:"No, I never heard about him."

CHOLLY ROCK: "Evans was a good friend of mine...he is Bambaataa's cousin and I left Bronx High School of Science and went to Christopher Columbus High School, alright? And so I'm there and you know like I said I'm getting a reputation as a dancer but I'm just chilling. And Evans says to me, "Yo, you know my cousin Bambaataa?" And I said, "Yeah, I know who Bambaataa is." 'Cause he didn't know I was part of the Spades. I knew who Bambaataa was. So he said, "Bambaataa is having a party!" That's how I found out about the party at 123 and that's how I wind up going to that party. So when I went to that dance I see all these people but I don't have no problems, you know what I mean? I don't have any problems! I danced with Squirpy, he asked me about joining the Zulu Kings and I said, "I think about it." but I knew the answer to that is going to be, "Yes." I come back the next week to another dance...Disco King Mario is playing....and I'm just dancing and going off and there was a strobe light...you know when you're dancing in a strobe light your moves look crazy... so I'm dancing in the strobe light doing my thing....I'm not going against anybody I'm just going off..Mario is playing and I'm going off! So when I look up there's a crowd around me....I'm in the middle of a circle going off by myself and everybody is like, "Yo, who's that?"  You know, I see them...I hear them! They're like, "Yo, who is that?" but  I was just in my zone...and when I'm finished dancing I'm on the side and Bambaataa is there and he is there with Ahmad (another original Zulu King B-Boy) who still used to go by his government name Billy.  They used to call him Crazy Bowlegged Billy, right? And so  they're like, "Yo, you're nice man !" and Bambaataa is like, "Where are you from?" I said, "I'm from Gun Hill." Bam says, "He is from the road." and he says, "I'm Bambaataa!"  I said, "I  know who you are. I'm from the 22nd with Riley and all them." He said, "Oh okay, you with Riley and them?" I said, "Yes!" So Billy introduced  himself....Bam said, "I want you to be a Zulu King!" I was trying for the Zulu Kings...I said, "Alright!" They said, "Be here next week!" and I said, "Okay, no problem!" So I came there the next week and it was Tex DJ Hollywood and Disco King Mario. Bambaataa was not DJing...and I come in..it was crowded...and there was another brother by the name of Dwayne...and Dwayne had seen me dancing the week before..we had been dancing together...he was there to try (for the Zulu Kings), too...and so Bam is there and he is with Monk and he is with Mr. Biggs  and they're like, "Yo, who is this ni***er??  That ni**er ain't..." I'm saying nothing..I'm good.. I know what I can do. See by this time I done did woodshed and I know I'm good now. By that time I was extremely confident in my skills. Now like I told you in order to become a Zulu King you had to dance against one of the five (the original five B-Boys of the Zulu Kings) and they saw me and they said, "You gonna dance against the African Prince!" which is Zambu....I'm like, "Alright!" You know I didn't give a fuck, I knew what I could do. Zambu started dancing, he was doing his little thing whatever....and then I lit his ass up!! (starts laughing) You know, I smoked him like a cigar!!  People were looking like, "No!!!" They were pissed off!  Dwayne was dancing, too. Later on they pointed to Dwayne and said,"Okay, what's he gonna be?" And Bambaataa said, "He's a Shaka Zulu!" And then somebody said, "What about him?" pointing to me.... and Bam's exact words were, "Are you crazy? He is a Zulu King!" That's how I became a Zulu King. Later on that night Mario had a dance contest and I'm dancing and somebody says, "Yo, Ahmad and this guy!" pointing at me..He said, "What's your name?" and I said, "Cholly Rock!" So they put on Apache...Ahmad does his little moves, right?...and Ahmad was famous  for doing this thing called the motorcycle....where he would get on like he was getting on a motorcycle whatever ...so they're playing for me and i just start doing my thing and I was always known because I could spin and so I'm down and I'm spinning like (makes a whirling sound)...You know, my thing! And so now you know when you have dance contests this is the rule...you are usually not going to win when you're in somebody else's backyard. That's the way it is. Usually they boo or whatever, right? Now I knew that already I ain't worried about that. So were dancing... Mario said, "Alright!" He pointed at Ahmad and people clapped...the they pointed at me and I never forget Pepsi...Queen Kenya..she was right there in the crowd....and they're looking and the people looked like, "Better not say nothing!" That kind of thing...There was no booing no nothing just quiet....And Mario said, "Y'all know he won!  Y'all know that! Yo homeboy you ain't got your crowd here 'cause we know that you won."      


NORIN RAD: "Oh so Mario said that?? This is mind blowing....you see I have heard abot the jams at JHS 123 before but I never associated Disco King Mario or Tex DJ Hollywood with these events...."


CHOLLY ROCK:"Oh you thought it was all Zulu Nation and Afrika Bambaataa?"

NORIN RAD:"Yes, I never thought Tex and Mario played beats there  for you B-Boys.."

CHOLLY ROCK:"Listen...Disco King Mario is the person who got JHS 123 not Bambaataa. In fact Mario is the person who put Bambaataa on!  The person who ran thas side of town was Disco King Mario. Mario is the first real hiphop entrepreneur..he is the person who got all the schools over there....123, 131...'cause that's  where we played..there were no clubs, there were no clubs!! The only club was The Hevalo and The Hevalo by this time had burnt down. So the only club on that side was The Executive Playhouse. T-Connection wasn't open yet. When the T-Connection did open it didn't start with the Hiphop stuff. So the only places we were in were in schools and like the parks in the summer or community centers. The only other person who was playing anywhere was Kool Herc... and Flash. Flash...he was playing in clubs...called the Dixie Club and the Boston Road Ballroom. You heard them talking about the Black Door and the Dixie Club, right?"

NORIN RAD:"Yes, Fuji told me about it."

CHOLLY ROCK:"There you go! And Fox Street had this boxing ring and Flash used to play there. It had an actual boxing ring in the middle of it and Flash would be up in the boxing ring. There were no clubs! The clubs were The Black Door,  The Dixie Club, Boston Road Ballroom...but other than that...and the Executive Playhouse...but other than that....they played in gyms....Mitchell Gym...that was Flash's spot and Herc was playing at the P.A.L. That's where Hiphop first started...and Mario was the person who really got all the schools in the Soundview area and those are DJs in the Soundview area (Disco King Mario, DJ Tex Hollywood, DJ Nicky Dee, Afrika Bambaataa)....and if you wanted to play there you had to get Mario's permission or Bam's but Bam needed Mario. So that's how Mario had people coming over like Theodore or whatever.  Plus we had our own DJs like I said we had Mario, Tex DJ Hollywood, Bambaataa of course, you know? So they didn't really need anyone to come over. They had their own DJs!
Then of course it was Bronx River Center but the thing with Bronx River Center was people were scared to come there. "

Disco King Mario (The Chuck Chuck City Crew)


NORIN RAD:"There is one thing that with regards to what you have just said that I don't comprehend. Bronx River was a really tough place, most people were scared to even go there and I heard stories about Zulu party flyers stating "Come in peace or leave in pieces."  

CHOLLY ROCK: "Absolutely true." 

NORIN RAD:"So over there you had the Zulu Kings and the Shaka Zulus but I wonder who did they dance against if B-Boys from outside were too scared to come to Bronx River? Who was their competition? Did they only battle each other all the time? How did that go down?"

CHOLLY ROCK: "You mean at Bronx River? Well, people came there. Not everybody was from the neighbourhood. People came there but they knew people. Bronx River was dangerous for outsiders, you know what I mean? Like outsiders from the Soundview area. If you were from the Soundview area you could come. Even if you weren't from the Soundview area and you knew somebody from the Soundview area you were gonna to be relatively safe. I'll give you this story..Let's go back to my boy Ben Richards...Me and Ben were on the number 2 train..we were talking....this was one week after I had become a Zulu King... and I told Ben,"Yo, they asked me to be a Zulu King." Ben frowned.... and here was the thing: the Zulu Kings were known for crashing Kool Herc's parties. Bambaata and Kool Herc originally did not get along and if you asked me about the reason I would probably say there was some jealousy to it. But Bam and Herc did not get along and the Zulu Kings and Black Spades from Bronx River most specifically would crash Herc's parties. This was an interesting thing to me because I knew who Herc was. You know, I went to Herc parties. Remember I went everywhere...So when I told Ben that I had just become a Zulu King he frowned and I'll never forget that's what he said, "I don't like these guys, Cholly! I don't know why you wanna be one of them." He said, "I don't like them. They are running around crushing Herc's parties. That Bambaataa guy datata.." Ben came later to Bronx River 'cause Ben is my boy and you know my man Warren..Lil Jamaica... couple of times he came with me. But they didn't like coming to that side of town. I was coming to Bronx River...just me I wasn't really coming with them and I became a Zulu King and as things kept going I came to Bronx River all the time. Bambaataa was well known in the Soundview area but nobody else really knew Bambaataa. He was a myth. Bambaataa was like a myth. To people outside of our circle Bambaataa was just this guy with a weird name who had these guys with African names following him around called Zulus and they would come and they would bust up parties and that he played these crazy records. That was the reputation of Bambaataa!"

NORIN RAD:"So how did Lil Monk's attitude towards you change from being hostile to becoming your dance partner?"

CHOLLY ROCK:"It changed because I started being down there all the time and of course my reputation is growing and I'm down with them. If I had gone against them it would have been different but I'm down with them. So as time went on..Monk is dancing, I'm dancing and me and him started doing little routines together and we just became very close. Then the other part is.. you know in the summer time we would go to the different jams. You know we're walking like...Bronx River is here and there are always jams in the parks in the Soundview area and we would always walk there, you know? There are all these different projects......Bronx River.......on one end it is Lambert, right? That's one end...we're going east..you got Bronx River, Bronxdale, Monroe, Soundview, Castle Hill  and all of these different places that were venues where we would play at. So Mario he's playing in Bronxdale...he could be in the first section of Bronxdale or he could be in the third section behind Pathmark (supermarket) or he could be in Rosedale park...and this is in the summer time. In the  winter time he played at JHS 123...in summer he's in Soundview or 100 park or 107. So it could be Mario  or it could be Kool DJ Dee or it could be Tex DJ Hollywood or it could be Bambaataa. They could also be playing behind Bronx River Center..in the summer time they were playing behind Bronx River Center with the stage behind the center or in the winter time they played in the center. Or maybe Mario gets 131 which is another school or he might get I.S. 167 that's another school across the street from Lambert..."

NORIN RAD:"So all these places were spots where DJs would rock beats and B-Boys would get down at?" 

CHOLLY ROCK:"Oh yeah, absolutely! You had B-Boys who were there from the neighbourhood....of course that's our home for the Zulu Kings and the Shaka Zulus. You had people coming from the different projects in the Soundview area who weren't going to challenge us...especially me because I got really nice. Like I would walk in...beats are playing....we're coming in the summertime or in the wintertime especially at 123... they're playing music...whoever is DJing...there is a circle there and I would just walk in and the circle would part...like, "Yo, Cholly Rock is here!"  and dudes would get out of the circle because, you know...That's the ultimate sign of respect! Motherfuckers didn't challenge you..they just give the circle over to you and I had that all the time. I would walk in and I would just go off...start dancing....and the circle would get bigger...like, "Look who's dancing here! Yo, Cholly Rock is here!" Then I come in and then the MC would say, "Yo Cholly Rock is in the house!" That's the other part, you know? That's the thing when cats say your name on the mic. You got respect,  you know? I'm talking about you don't ask them to say your name. "

NORIN RAD: "So I guess all that gave you the status of a street celebrity?"

CHOLLY ROCK: "Let me tell you! The B-Boys and the DJs are the first celebrities of the Hip Hop Culture! We're known in our communities but if you are really nice you were known everywhere! And that's what I got! I went places and people were like "Cholly Rock is in the house!" Then when the rhyming started..Like I go to Flash's parties....I know Flash, Mel and everybody... especially Cowboy! Cowboy was my man! Cowboy was making up rhymes for me like "Cholly Rock got a crew! What you gonna do? Especially at the T-Connection...Listen to the old tapes! You hear me gettin' shouted out on the regular! That's how the reputation grows! Remember there is no industry yet! There is no recorded rap....none of that! Everything is word of mouth and your reputation in the streets."

NORIN RAD: "There was no artificial creation of a reputation back then like it is happening today through the music and dance industry, right? You had to build up your rep through your own efforts."

CHOLLY ROCK: "None of that existed! There was no industry!"

NORIN RAD:"I'd like to ask you a question about the earliest involvement of Puerto Rican B-Boys that you recall. Were there any Puerto Rican B-Boys among the Zulu Kings or Shaka Zulus that you remember and who were they?"  

CHOLLY ROCK:"Yeah of course! Angel....Angelo Rodriguez....he's Puerto Rican....he was a B-Boy with the Shaka Zulus. We had Little Zambu...Peter....You had DJs who were not Zulu Kings....Tex DJ Hollywood! He is Puerto Rican..his name is David Santiago. In fact Tex was the supreme president of all young Spades, meaning all young Spades in New York City. He had a sister named Lilo who was a B-Girl.  "

NORIN RAD:"Who did Little Zambu run with?"

CHOLLY ROCK:"Little Zambu was a Baby Zulu. He is with Beaver and them."

NORIN RAD:"Okay, and the Baby Zulus were called thus because they were younger than you Zulu Kings, right?"

CHOLLY ROCK:"Yes, they were all younger than us."

NORIN RAD:"Could it be that Beaver was the one who sparked the love for Breaking in many Puerto Ricans? I'm asking this because I have heard many Puerto Rican B-Boys referring to him as a huge influence."

Beaver (The Baby Zulus)


CHOLLY ROCK:"They probably heard of Beaver someway or another and I'm not sure how. But Beaver...and I always laugh when they say all that cause they talk about Beaver with reverence...We love Beaver..Beaver was nice but Beaver was a Baby Zulu. He's younger than us, he's a Baby Zulu! They were under us, you know? Beaver was the head of the Baby Zulus as a matter of fact!" 

NORIN RAD:"Did Bam also have Hustle Dancers at his parties like Herc and Flash?"

 CHOLLY ROCK:"Believe it or not Bam had a group of Zulu Hustlers. Two of them were Herbie and a heavy Puerto Rican brother named Boyo...He was 5'5" and weighed 250 easy....Who was nice! Also hustling at Bam's parties was Patricia Virgo Hoard."


NORIN RAD:"I spoke to Trixie and Sasa and they said when being asked about the dance today that they dislike certain elements that were added to it later on. Both said that the dance now oftentimes lacks the funkyness, the smoothness and the rhythm it originally had and they also criticized that quite often the music is being ignored completely. What is your take on that?"

CHOLLY ROCK:"The difference between us and the B-Boys of today is they don't dance..anyone who dances...I don't give a shit what kind of dance you're doing....if there's music on you dance to the beat of the music!  And they don't do that!!! THEY DON'T DO THAT!! Also they just go off into their moves...it's not to the beat. It's just like they're doing whatever the fuck they're doing...to hell with the music or whatever! And so I agree completely with Trixie and Sasa! When we danced we danced to the beat of the music. When I B-Boy I B-Boy to the beat of the music! One of my favourite B-Boy Go Off Jams...Listen To Me...Baby Huey...You know how Baby Huey starts... (hums the melody of the beginning of that song)..I start off slow!  You know I'm doing a slow Uprock....and then it gets to that part with the machine gun...and I'm starting shaking or something like that then I start going into my Uprock..it's like (sings), "Listen To Me Hear What I say!" I don't start going off on the floor until (hums the part of the horns setting in)..that's all in beat to the music though! I'm doing my floor thing and then I come back up and I'm like back to dancing slow again...to the beat of the music! These cats B-Boying today don't dance to the beat of the music! They just kinda come and do whatever they wanna do and they dance to any fucking thing!



NORIN RAD:"Is it possible to consider someone as a B-Boy who doesn't like the original B-Boy Beats?"


CHOLLY ROCK:"Well, here is how I look at it. First of all if you're a B-Boy and you hear It's Just Begun or Apache or one of them you gotta go off because those are B-Boy Songs! You have to..there is no way for you to hear that beat and not wanna go off! You know what I mean?! In the early days of B-Boying there were certain songs...we didn't B-Boy to everything! It just didn't happen! You have a song like "Ten Per Cent" by Double Exposure...that's a Hustle Song! Nobody B-Boys to that! Herc played that...Herc played other songs....You heard of Chip...Chip the Hustle Man...he wasn't a B-Boy he didn't do any of that..but he was at Herc's parties and he was dancing with Janet...they were hustling. Herc had a set of songs.."Body Talk"...that is a Hustle Song not a B-Boy Song..the B-Boy canon of music were very specific records..and there are other records that kinda crossed from Burning into B-Boying..so some of those records are like"Scorpio"..that comes all the way from Burning into Breaking... but you know you had records like "Apache"..."Apache" is a B-Boy Song..."Apache", "It's Just Begun", "Shaft In Africa", "Give It Up Or Turn It Loose", "Corazon" by Creative Source, "Yellow Sunshine", "Brother Green", "Listen To Me"..one of the original Burning and B-Boying Song was "Africano" by Earth Wind & Fire..."The Mexican" of course..."

NORIN RAD: "What about "Got To Get A Knutt" by the New Birth?"

CHOLLY ROCK:" New Birth's "Got To Get A Knutt" is a Burning Jam!! You know you had some people who went off to it. You can go off to it..it had that part to it but it was more of a Burning Jam. There is a song called "The Jam" by The Graham Central Station that's more of a Burning Jam, too. But the canon of the original B-Boy records were those records that I've mentioned. Now Afrika Bambaataa expanded that play list because Bam added shit to it that other DJs didn't have. Like you have "Mambo No. 5"..there were certain records... Bam is responsible for introducing a lot of the records that are now Hiphop standards. The first person to find them and play them was Afrika Bambaata..Like "The Phenomena Theme" 

NORIN RAD: "Yeah, I remember you telling me about Bam introducing "Devil With A Bust" by Sound Experience!"

CHOLLY ROCK:"Yeah, that's a Bambaataa song! And then there's a number of different songs that became Bambaata's staples.  DJs...Disco King Mario and all of them were like "Yo, where did Bambaata get that record?" Trying to get us (The Zulu Kings)to  give up Bambaataa's records and we were like, "Nah, Mario we ain't telling.."  Bambaata was the first to play "Dance To The Drummer's Beat" Yeaaaah! Nobody knows about that beat! Bambaataa was the first person to play "Mambo No. 5"....I'll never forget the day he first played it. He found it. You know Bam took us with him record hunting. We would travel with him. Bam would always buy you a hot dog and whatnot...he might put some money in your pocket. That was like a privilege for one of us of the Zulu Kings to go with Bambaataa buying records. Bam would get records from different record pools and you know the records he didn't like he would give away. That was another thing that was Bam known for. Bam used to give away records all the time..like that was one of the big things of coming to a Zulu party..Bam would come in and just give away records...throw records out in the crowd...but I remember when he played "Mambo No. 5" and it was 1977....the first 123 party of the year..there is a flyer that is famous now from 1977..it's from that first 123 party...that's where he played "Mambo No. 5"! And we were goin' off!!!!



The Zulu Nation Jam Flyer from 1977 Cholly Rock is referring to
 

NORIN RAD:"Last question..When you see people breaking nowadays it is basically in the format that was introduced by the Puerto Rican B-Boys later on (musch respect to them) namely starting off with a small portion of Top Rocking then going down into various footwork patterns and finally ending with a freeze. Various aspects of the way the first B-Boys went off fell into oblivion such as the Burning as well as all the comical stuff....the routines and all that. Do you think these aspects are obsolete now or would you like to see them being resurrected?"

CHOLLY ROCK:"No, they shouldn't be abandoned and I hope that they'll get resurrected. I hope it comes back to that  because as I said you got people dancing now and they are much more focused on the  acrobatic element of it I guess you could say. The one thing before you do any dance you have to be in beat with the damn music. That's just dance!"                                                            











                                                            


                                                   



                                        Interview with DJ Squirl Dee (The Silver Nation)                                                 ...