From the inception of Hip Hop, b-boys have been an inexorable part of the culture.
And though the other four elements (emceeing, deejaying, graffiti and breaking) have become more compartmentalized each has cultivated its own subculture.
With his 100th win — which happened on March 3, 2018, in Salzburg, Austria — RoxRite, the Red Bull BC One all-star, basically became the Cal Ripken Jr. (or Tiger Woods for our readers under 30) of breaking. As he began closing in on the milestone Red Bull decided to do something special to commemorate his historical career.
“I had gotten to about 50 something tournament [victories] and then I released a video to say that I wanted to get to 100,” RoxRite told HipHopDX in an exclusive chat. “That was just made for the people in the scene to see what I was trying to do. As time passed different things came into play. My competitiveness slowed down a bit because I became more of an ambassador and was teaching and judging and doing things that didn’t involve competing as much. Red Bull had known that I had been wanting to win 100 so in 2016 they had asked me where I was at and I think I had gotten to about 91 and they asked can you get nine more in a year. They wanted to do a campaign where they told a story for every win. [100 stories in 100 days]. They helped me put together the content and the animation. The goal was to do something that hadn’t been done in breaking and share the story with the world because it’s something that hopefully will become the new standard in competitive breaking.”
RoxRite got into breaking in the mid-90s around the time that Hip Hop was establishing itself as a mainstream force and though he, like most b-boys started rocking with electro-funk, eventually he adapted his rhythm to the time.
“When I got into breaking I kinda went backwards because I wound up finding in the videos the music that the DJs were playing at that time around ’95 which was electro funk like “Planet Rock” and stuff from Afrika Bambaataa and that time period when Hip Hop producers were producing that type of sound so I dove into that sound in the beginning of my breaking years. I would dance to ‘Boogie Down Bronx’ by Man Parrish and ‘Looking For The Perfect Beat,’” RoxRite remembered. “Later on with the Hip Hop that I was listening to when I started around ’95 I started practicing with people that were older than me and they had a different taste for sound. The person that was mentoring me was more into the culture and the music that was happening at that time so he had us practicing to Hip Hop beats,” he added.
Roxrite began dancing to artists like The Fugees and 2Pac but one album quickly carved out a special spot in his heart.
In ’96 when I was listening to more Hip Hop again I was listening to Nas’ It Was Written, that was very influential to me in terms of the sound, the stories, the lyricism and everything. That was the sound that kinda pushed me to understand my style a little bit more,” noted RoxRite. “When you’re dancing to electro funk the tempo is a little bit faster so when you’re dancing to Hip Hop you have to slow down, take your time and define your movement more. Also, the messages in some of these songs you can connect with a bit more and it gives you a different type of energy.”
Despite the popularity of charting hits like “If I Ruled The World” and “Street Dreams,” it was one of the albums more slept-on cuts that changed the game for the then-budding breaker.
“One of the songs that made me really start following the drum was ‘Take It In Blood.’ That’s the song I used to practice to in my house cause at that time people weren’t teaching you to follow the counts you just learn to follow the song and follow the music so your dance would interpret the way you were connecting to the song through your movements,” RoxRite recalled. “That song was responsible for really stapling my movements to the drum because it has such a heavy hit on the drum so it’s easy to follow along.”
At the commercial level, Hip Hop is not quite as b-boy friendly as it once was but RoxRite says certain artists still show love for his craft.
“Kanye West will make songs you can get down to. There’s a lot of breaks involved in his music. Maverick Sabre has a song with Joey Bada$$ and songs that have the breaks and that old sound. It’s a lot of boom bap and it has to have that ‘break’ sound to it, Method Man’s ‘What’s Happening,’ Watch The Throne, ‘That’s My Bitch,’ the tempo of that the whole track is a dope song to dance to.”
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