Dienstag, 13. März 2018

                                         Interview with the Original B-Boy Fuji (The D-Squad)




                                                   
Fuji (The D-Squad)



 
NORIN RAD: "From which part of the Boogie Down Bronx are you? Like which section of it and which street were you raised at?"

FUJI:"Well, were I was raised at differs from where I got into B-Boying actually. I'm totally from the South Bronx, okay? 23 Park was the area that we pretty much frequented, where we practised at and where we did a lot of jams at and that was on Tinton Avenue in the South Bronx. In the vicinity I lived probaby three, four blocks away from there... a place called Prospect Avenue."

NORIN RAD:"How did you get that name Fuji?"

FUJI:"That's a nickname I picked up going to karate movies such as Bruce Lee movies

NORIN RAD:"Where and when did you witness Breaking for the first time and what made you get involved in it?"

FUJI:"Well, first of all I was alwas a dancer! I loved dancing since I was a kid. The very first time I witnessed it I was actually going around 23 Park area with a good friend of mine that  always lived in that area that I had met and we went into a hallway to one of his friends' house. And in the hallway I seen guys practising different things on the floor and I was like, "What are they doing?" You know? My friend said,"Oh, they're be breaking!" So I said, "Oh, let me see! Let me check them out! Let's stand here for a few and see what they are doing!" I looked at what they were doing and I liked it and I was introduced to these guys and then you know I just started coming around more often, watching them and I started getting down with them and I tried doing it myself and I liked it and so I continued on, you know?"


23 Park (Behagen Playground): Grandmaster Flash's stomping ground and home of The D-Squad B-Boys 


NORIN RAD:"Do you recall which year that was?"

FUJI:"That might have been around..I would say roughly about 1974."

NORIN RAD: "And they were already doing floormoves at that time, right?"

FUJI:"Oh yes, definetely!"

NORIN RAD: "How and when did your crew The D-Squad form?"

FUJI:"When I met members of the D-Squad they had already a crew formed called "The D-Squad" and you have to understand in that area...when I met them 'cause I went to school with them...it was Melle Mel, Scorpio (Mr. Ness), Kid Creole.. we all went to the same junior high school. So basically after school everybody would hang around the park area...not everybody from school but certain groups of people would hang around...you know, the park and play ball (basketball) and stuff where there were basketball courts and different things to do.  So we would all hang around there and they already had a crew called The D-Squad and there were some of them who had stopped breaking and then there were some of them who were still breaking. So pretty much when I met them they were already formed as the D-Squad."

NORIN RAD:"How much passed after you had started breaking until you joined The D-Squad?"

FUJI:"I would say within a month or two."

NORIN RAD:"Who were the members of The D-Squad at that time and how would you describe each members' breaking style?"

FUJI:"Well, like I said there was a lot of guys in the area who were my friends because we all lived in the same area so we went to the same school and stuff like that. But some kids were a little older and they were basically...how can I say this? Mainly by the time I got with them it was Melle Mel, Scorpio (Mr. Ness) and I..we were the main breakers in our area. There were also some other guys that was good as well.  Melle Mel and Scorpio (Mr. Ness) were B-Boys mainly. Melle Mel was very physical so he would do a lot of moves that required strength, you know? And he was also very smooth with his stuff. Scorpio (Mr. Ness) was very fast, very stylish....and he liked to freeze. He was the first person I seen doing the freeze."   


Melle Mel & Fuji (The D-Squad)


NORIN RAD:"Thank you! How would you describe your own dancing style? Did you have a special signature move or a character that you would do like I heard the B-Boys from the West Bronx would do on the regular?"   

FUJI:"Not necessarily...I mean we did certain things like we would walk up to the guy we were dancing with..and he'd be there staring at us and we were like taking our hands and act like we were screwing off their head, throw it up in the air then swing it like a baseball bat and hit his head like it was a baseball. So I done things like that but I think a little bit prior to me coming on the scene they did a lot of Charlie Chaplin  moves and stuff like that. Guys liked to do that. I wasn't big on that by the time I started dancing. I was more of...just a very agile....quick on my feet and I liked to dance on my toes. I think I was the first person...if I'm not mistaken..to do that.  I mean I would pretty much be going up and down on both of my toes and then go down on the floor and go into my routine."

NORIN RAD:"At which venues (parks, gyms, clubs) in your area of the Boogie Down Bronx did Breaking take place on the regular and who were the main DJs there?" 

FUJI:"Well, there was several DJs....there was Grandmaster Flash, there was DJ Mean Gene and his brother DJ Cordie-O...are you just talking about the DJs in my area?"

NORIN RAD:"Yes, I would like to know specifically about the jamming spots and DJs in your area."

FUJI:"Okay, that would be 23 Park, that would be 63 park and as far as the clubs there was the Dixie Club, the Black Door, Over The Dover...those were the areas in our general area that we kind of frequented."

NORIN RAD:"What about gyms though? Like I heard they had the PAL on Webster Avenue where B-Boys would go off at. Was there something similar in your area?"

FUJI:"No.  Basically we went to the Webster P.A.L. and we travelled to different areas in the Bronx. It wasn't per se a P.A. L. in every particular area."

NORIN RAD:"What was your most memorable Battle? Where did it take place? Who was your opponent? Which moves were exchanged? And who won?"

FUJI:"Well, to be honest with you I never really was a battle type of a person. When I entered a party...I went to a party knowing I was gonna go off. Breakdancing...we called it Going off. I never like went to a party and said I was looking for a particular person to battle. I felt I was very confident withinin myself and I felt I was very good regardless of whoever was known at the time or was dancing I really didn't care. So I'm the type of dude I would go into the circle and I'm watching somebody dance and however good they are or whoever they were it wouldn't make no difference to me. As soon as they got up I would go down on the floor without even notice and do my routine. There is this perception out there that every time we went to a party it was particularly a battle where we would say, "Oh I wanna go against this dude, or this on or that one!" It wasn't that way all the time!"  

NORIN RAD:"I have always wondered whether Breaking was exclusively about battling back then. Thank you for clearing that up!"

FUJI:"It was about fun as well. Like I'll give you an example...Cholly Rock and his crew  they would come down to where we were giving parties in our area with Grandmaster Flash and I got to meet Cholly Rock by just us dancing and admiring the way each one of us danced. He was like, "Yo, you're really good!"and I said, "Aight, that's kool! You're, too! What's your name?" He said, "I'm Cholly Rock. This is Byron, this is Cedi Moe." So I was like, "Aight, kool! Where y'all from?" "Oh, we're from Uptown." "Kool. Welcome aboard! Have some fun!" So sometimes it was just admiration for each other. Knowing each one was good and it was just about showing your skill set. It wasn't always like,"Oh, I don't like that dude! I wanna battle him!" No, it wasn't always like that! It did happen, don't get it twisted but a lot of times it was just fun and admiration for dancing."

NORIN RAD:"Who were like the most outstanding B-Boys AND B-Girls in your particular area besides you guys from the D-Squad?"

FUJI:"Right, in our particular area we didn't have any B-Girls. B-Girls were around but they were very few. The most notable B-Boys I would say...Clark Kent was definetely a name that always stood above most other people.  Clark Kent was like an icon! Also Sasa and Trixie who were known as earlier practioners of B-Boying. Their names rang but they didn't come to every location where parties were given 'cause I never seen them where we partied at.  But their names were definetely noted! So you got Clark Kent, Sasa, Trixie....you had Amazing Bobo..you had a guy named One Eyed Andre..."

NORIN RAD:"He was from Lambert, right?"

FUJI:"Yeah, Lambert. One Eyed Andre was from Lambert. You had Little Rudy, you had Bruce Lee....There was also Black Avery, Bumpy Face Melvin, Little Man, Romance, Flipping Mike.....Flipping Mike was our secret weapon. Also Mean Gene (DJ from the L-Brothers) and Flash were B-Boys as well for a certain time. I never seen Flash dance but I seen Mean Gene dance."

NORIN RAD:"Was Mean Gene from the older generation of B-Boys that danced mainly on top?"

FUJI:"No, no! Mean Gene did some on the floor as well! When I came around them ...'cause he was from the same vicinity..I seen Mean Gene dance about once or twice only but he was definetely a nice B-Boy as well!"


Fuji (The D-Squad) & B-Boy / DJ Mean Gene (The L-Brothers)


NORIN RAD:"That B-Boy which you called your secret weapon...Flipping Mike..was he also affiliated with The D-Squad?"

FUJI:"He was also known around our way. I mean a lot of times he would come out to the park and sometimes he wouldn't. He was down with us but he wasn't per se at every party for sure.  But when he did come he was very good. He was one of our high school number one gymnasts. So that's why they called him Flipping Mike. He knew how to flip, do splits, back hand springs and stuff like that. So when we really wanted to show off  and we had Mike with us and we went to a party, you know, and we went into our routines. When somebody nice went to the floor we had Mike go off and they would be really impressed."

NORIN RAD:"But I guess everything was done to the music, right?"

FUJI:"We would always dance on beat! That's something I have noticed watching B-Boy clips on youtube and social media from overseas they're not really dancing to the beat. We felt the music! We danced to the rhythm. We put emphasis on being one with the beat. We went on the floor to the music for sure!" 

NORIN RAD:"Which role played music generally in you life back then in the 1970ies? I guess you weren't listening to breakbeats all the time like many people think today......"

FUJI:"No!!!!"

NORIN RAD:"Only when you went to the jams...So to what kind of music were you listening when you were chilling at home or hanging out with friends or a girl?"


FUJI:"Let me backup a minute. In my era coming up it was the norm on Saturday morning before we even could watch Soul Train or anything like that we had to get up super early and our parents would play music while we cleaned up the house. We would listen to music like Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, The Isley Brothers, Kool & The Gang, Sly & The Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire, Barry White, James Brown...This was the most popular genre that I enjoyed which was mainly R&B."

NORIN RAD:"So you would also go record shopping from time to time?"

FUJI:"Yes. The first album I ever purchased with my own money was  "Wild & Peaceful" by Kool & The Gang in 1973. That was the first album I ever bought with my own money not asking for money or anything. I saved up my money and I loved that album!"

NORIN RAD:"Jungle Boogie is on that LP, right?"

FUJI:"Jungle Boogie, Hollywood Swinging.....and also Funky Stuff."

NORIN RAD:"From your perspective how did the transition of Breaking from being a dance that was done mainly on top to a floormove centered dance take place?"

FUJI:"Well, I can only speak from my perspective.. some people that are older than me they may have experienced it differently. From what I remember myself around 1972 and prior to then I remember dancing on top of the floor myself and I believe that was the Burning Era.
Regular dancing, freestyle dancing with a girl but then you would also do little moves to make yourself stand out. Very different than the next person to show you that you got a little bit more skills and also try to impress the female. I think a lot of that Burning started with, "Let me impress that girl and show her I know how to do something different than what everybody else is doing!" And then it became a thing were people got competitive with it and they would try to outdo each other and that's what the Burning phase was. I would say from my experience that this was around 1972 and even prior to that."

NORIN RAD:"Thank you! I heard that Kool DJ Herc did not only play breakbeats at his parties but also Slow jams, Hustle songs etc. Would Grandmaster Flash and Mean Gene do the same thing on your side of the Bronx?"

FUJI:"Oh definetely!  There was always slow jams...a portion of the party you would do slow dancing, you know? And then there was like hustle music....just regular music they would play from regular R&B groups or whatever. The party might start off with regular R&B music, regular dance music and then when the park was getting packed and the DJ looked around as more people started coming in and he saw enough people that were B-Boys then he would put on some B-Boy music so we could rock some, you know what I mean?! Then probably near the third quarter of the party they would throw on a couple of slow jams so people could get their little groove on, you know? Grinding on a woman and stuff like that! It was a well rounded party. There were people that did the Hustle..there were B-Boys that hustled as well. It wasn't like Breaking was the only dance we knew how to do. No! We were all-around dancers!"

NORIN RAD:"So what is your favourite B-Boy song of all times?"

FUJI:"Give It Up Or Turn It Loose" by James Brown!"


"Give It Up Or Turn It Loose" by James Brown (Album: "Sex Machine"; 1970 King Records)





Sonntag, 4. März 2018

                                      Interview with the Original Hiphop Hustle King Chip





                                                                         
Chip     
 




NORIN RAD: "Where did you live at when you first went to Kool DJ Herc's parties?"

CHIP:"I was living on Washington Avenue. The neighbourhood was known as The Nine."

NORIN RAD:"Okay and which high school did you attend at that time?"

CHIP:"I went to Taft High School." 

NORIN RAD: "Do you recall the first time you went to a Kool Herc party? At which venue did you first see him?"

CHIP:" I think the first time...I think I went to a party over there in his neighbourhood. It had to be in that recreation room."

NORIN RAD: "What made you go there?"

CHIP:"Well, we all heard about it, you know,  'cause everybody was talking about it. The buzz was all over the place. We was going to the parties with DJ Smokey, you know, before I even went to Kool Herc. We kept hearing about Kool Herc's parties at school. That's why we were so anxious to go. All of us El Dorado Mike, The Ni**er Twins, Clark Kent..Clark Kent wasn't there first.. we would hear things so..even El Dorado Mike he had a friend..a guy named Whiz that would talk about Kool Herc. You know the buzz was all around so we said, "We gotta be there!" And then you know he had the block parties..the block parties were pumped up in the summer time. So we kept hearing about it and then we would go. One party we kept going."

NORIN RAD:"And what was so impressive about his parties that made you come back there again?"

CHIP:"Oh the girls! The girls!!! The music and the girls!!! He had some of the flyest girls there! And the music, you know..the speakers...the music was clear! He had certain records that I had never heard before and that music was like make you wanna to dance! The soundsystem was clear you could hear it from miles...before you even get to his party you could hear the music. And you know like a lot of hustlers went to Kool Herc's parties. Everybody was getting fly, getting dressed to go to his party." 

NORIN RAD: "When you talk about hustlers you are referring to guys that were into scrambling (drug dealing), right?"

CHIP:"Yeah, scramblers, yeah!"

NORIN RAD:"So what kind of vibe prevailed at his parties? Was there any kind of tension?"

CHIP:"Nah, it was more laid back. It was more laid back. You're being real kool, you got all the girls there...That's why it was so good 'cause all the tension was over where I lived at. So when we got to this neighbourhood it was all laid back."

NORIN RAD: "So it was like a welcome change 'cause the Nine had all the tension..."

CHIP:"Oh yeah, the Nine was more tension...you never know when something would jump off. When you get on the West Side (where Herc was at) it was kool....all the girls come in, you know?  All the hustlers are there. They're real kool, they got the sunrooftop cars..laying back, you know? Herc got the echo chamber on, you know..Coke La Rock is talking smack on the microphone...calling out different people names. So it's like a certain swagger. He called out your name... like, "Wow you're the man!!"

NORIN RAD:"What would these hustlers do at Kool Herc's parties? Would they dance or would they chill?"

CHIP:"Yeah! Some of them they danced, some of them they laid back, just chill. Got the nice clothes on, laid back...talking to the girls. You have some that really danced ...."

NORIN RAD: "And what about the B-Boys? I guess you saw them there, too."

CHIP:"Oh, no doubt! That was like the hall of fame. Nobody wasn't called B-Boys but you had certain people that..like I would turn around I would see Doug (Dancin' Doug) doing his thing or I might see Wallace Dee doing his thing....and then I'm there with the (Ni**er) Twins and they start doing their thing. You got different people that would be dancing. And then Herc might put on a certain record...like say for instance he would put on a Sasa (original B-Boy) record and everybody would see Sasa doing his thing. He would do a split move and a couple of moves...so that was so smooth about it. If Clark Kent is there he'd start and do his shit for a minute! And you'd be like, "WoW!!!!"Or I'm there and I'm dancing with Janet...doing the Hiphop Hustle and then I got my little circle. Every time you turn around you got somebody having a smooth moment you're looking at them. And then you got times when everybody is just dancing..."

NORIN RAD:"So when you came to Kool Herc's parties were they already doing the Hiphop Hustle dance  there ?"

CHIP:"Everybody would be doing it but you had certain other people that had certain moves...like a routine...and that's when I seen my dance partner (Janet Rock) doing it wih Rasheen and Rasheen I seen him doing it I was like, "Wow!" They had a certain style how they would be doing it and I said, "Aaah man, I gots to get to do that part, that routine that they do! I got to learn how to do it that way!"

NORIN RAD: "Could you please break down the difference beween what you refer to as Hiphop Hustle and the regular Hustle dance in terms of moves and the music it was done to?"

CHIP:"Alright...these are two different types! Hiphop Hustle is more like...the girl and the guy would be doing it in the same motion and the turns...sometimes..in the Hiphop Hustle the guy would swing around the girl like three times and stop and they'll put their hands up at the same time. The Disco Hustle...which I also did...when we would be going to a disco...  it was more spins and she'd be moving like a ballerina...the girl was spinning by herself like a ballerina coming back to you. So it was kinda like two different styles. On the Hiphop Hustle certain guys had certain styles..like when El Dorado Mike did it....he would take the girl and twirl her like real fast and bring her out and she'd move her hand...they'll go around in a circle like a...how can I say it... he had his hand around her waist and they'd be going around like dipping back and forth to the beat of the music.  Certain records they ( Kool Herc and Coke La Rock) would play you would be doing it to the music...moving the girl...When Herc played "Happy Music" (by The Blackbyrds)....you know depending on the music you can do it slow or do it fast." 

NORIN RAD:"So was there one general style of the Hiphop Hustle or did everybody have a unique approach to it?"

CHIP:"Well, there was one style everybody did. I took it to another level. Iwould take it up to a much higher level...me and Janet. You know, we had all kind of routines. Everybody else was probably doing it the same style."

NORIN RAD:"But you would definetely say that the Hiphop Hustle had its own identity that set it apart from the Disco Hustle, right?"

CHIP:"Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!!" (excited)

NORIN RAD:"At which point of the party would Kool Herc and Coke La Rock start playing the Hustle songs? In the beginning of it, in the middle or at the end?" 

CHIP:"Well, you can always do it. Any record..even those records that they breakdance to you can do the Hiphop Hustle to it. It wouldn't even matter. Some of the break records you can hustle to it!"

NORIN RAD:"Could you give me an example? "The Mexican" maybe?"

CHIP:"Yeah!"

NORIN RAD: "For real?"

CHIP:"The Mexican? Yeah!!"

NORIN RAD:"So I guess that's why it is referred to as Hiphop Hustle because it was parly also done to the B-Boy records, right?"

CHIP:"Yeah....'cause you can go right back into the Hiphop thing, into the Breaking! Say I can do the Hiphop Hustle and then I go off and start breaking. If you know how to break you can go right into it. What we call Burning you can go right into it and then you can go back to doing the Hiphop Hustle again."

NORIN RAD:"So what were some of the songs at Kool Herc's parties that the HipHop Hustle was done to? I know "Do You What You Gotta Do" by Eddie Drennon was one. ould you name some more?"
 
"Do You What You Gotta Do" by Eddie Drennon & B.B. S. Unlimited 


CHIP: "Alright, you got "Body Talk" by Eddie Kendricks.... you have "Here Comes The Express" by B.T. Express...."Shifting Gears" by Johnny Hammond...then you had "Pursuit Of The Pimpmobile"(by Isaac Hayes)"...

NORIN RAD: What about this one ?" (plays "T Plays It Cool" by Marvin Gaye)

CHIP:"Thats that good shit! Everybody got down to that! Herc would put the Last Poets over that song..."

"T Plays It Cool" by Marvin Gaye 
 

NORIN RAD: "What about this one? (plays "Dominoes" by Donald Byrd for Chip)

CHIP:"Oh yeah, that's Hiphop Hustle all the way!"

 NORIN RAD:" So what was the name of dance partner again?"

CHIP:"Janet. Kool Herc named her Janet Rock."

NORIN RAD: "How did you meet her?"

CHIP:"She was from Highbridge. We went to school together.  She went to Taft. She could break.. she was at all the block parties with her sister. They were both doublejointed. She could break with the best of them. Even her cousin used to dance together with Trixie."

NORIN RAD:"So she was breaking and also did the Hiphop Hustle?"

CHIP:"Yeah. I seen her dancing and as I said she was dancing with that guy named Rasheen. They was at a Herc party.. at a block party and they were doing a routine with the Hiphop Hustle. I knew how to do the other style (the Disco Hustle) and I told her, "Can you teach me that style?" And she took me in front of everybody and showed me how to do it and then I came into my own style with it with her 'cause it was a style where she goes back and forth with her leg and you have to stand still 'cause she be kicking her feet up in the air....putting it all the way behind her head. Sometimes she be moving her leg so fast it'd look like if she hit somebody she would knock him out and she'd be doing splits, you know? All kinds of stuff...She was very flexible."

NORIN RAD:"So would you say that Janet is responsible for creating that Hiphop Hustle dance style?"

CHIP:"Yeah."

NORIN RAD: Okay and how would one initiate that Hip Hop Hustle dance procedure? Would you ask a specific girl to dance with you or would you bring your dance partner with you?"

CHIP:"Sometimes we would all come to the party together. Like Janet..we would all come with her. She was funny..if we were going to the P.A.L.... sometimes she would be there with her sisters and she would ask everybody to chip in and we would put out a hat and we would put money in for her to get in. If I'm coming I want her to be there to do this dance 'cause it's gonna be my time to be in the spotlight. You know, I'm dressed from head to toe . I call her up , you know? Saying,"You gonna be there at Kool Herc!" You'll be mad if she don't show up! Like, "Ah man!" Or you gotta check the other girls that knew how to do it. They don't know how to do it as good as her but they know how to do it. So you would be doing it with them."

NORIN RAD: "How would you dress when you went to Herc's parties?"

CHIP:"I would wear nice leather shoes and I would wear AJs.... AJ stitch pants and a Alpaca sweater or I have on a cashmere coat or I have on a Cortefiel and I would wear a velour hat. "

NORIN RAD: "Is it true that back then you couldn't wear an outfit that got like 15 colours in it without being ridiculed?"

CHIP:"Yeah, you had to make sure you was color coordinated. They would tell you about it in a minute if you wasn't matching your colors."

NORIN RAD:"Okay, and how would the girls dress back then?"

CHIP: "Some of the girls they were fly! They had like the scarf..some of them would wear a medallion or they would wear those tennis dresses. They would never wear sneakers they would wear fly shoes and if they did wear sneakers they made sure that they'd be brand new."

NORIN RAD:"What kind of person was El Dorado Mike and what was your relationship with him?"

CHIP:" We was good friends. He would come up to my house and we would play records all day long.I mean I can remember when we would go to parties and I would drop him off to his girl's house or one of his girls house (laughs)...So we did a lot of things together."

NORIN RAD:"So he attracted a lot of girls back then?"

CHIP:"Oh yeah, definetely! And he was a hustler...he was a hustler... you know?! 170, you're getting that money!"

 NORIN RAD:"He was also a great hustle dancer from what I've heard."

CHIP:"Yeah, he was famous for that!"

NORIN RAD:"Where was he from?"

CHIP:"He was from 1-7-0. Webster Avenue."

NORIN RAD: "Did he also have a specific dance partner when it came to the Hiphop Hustle dance?"

CHIP:"That was so good about him 'cause he could grab any girl and make her look good."










 

 

 
 


 

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