|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......"
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)|