Rock Steady Crew  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Rock Steady Crew is a breakdancing crew and hip hop group that was established in the Bronx, New York City in 1977. The New York Times called the Rock Steady Crew "the foremost breakdancing group in the world today."



The original founders were Jimmy D and Jojo, two early popularizers of breakdancing. Although breakdancing has since become a well-known subculture, in the late 1970s it was little known outside of New York, as such their early rivals were from the other boroughs of New York. In the beginning, membership in the crew was only granted by battling with another Rock Steady member; it was a competition few people won.

In 1979 Jimmy D added Crazy Legs and Lenny Len to the crew. This fresh talent came at a critical time for the crew; if it had not been for these fresh new faces Rock Steady quite possibly would have ended then. Crazy Legs then was living in Manhattan and would return to the Bronx on the weekends but that eventually became too expensive. At that point Crazy Legs began to explore the hip hop scene in Manhattan, this meant losing contact with some of the other members of Rock Steady. Crazy Legs wanted to start a crew of his own and went back to the Bronx to get Jimmy D's permission to start a new Rock Steady chapter in Manhattan. Unable to find Jimmy D he instead joined Rockwell Association (a competitor to Rock Steady) on suggestion of his cousin Lenny Len. After being turned down the first time they immediately added him to their crew as he had a lot more to offer this time and gave him a chapter in Manhattan.

It was not until the early part of 1981 that Crazy Legs finally got permission from Jimmy D to start a chapter of the Rock Steady Crew in Manhattan. Crazy Legs immediately switched the affiliation of his crew from the Rockwell Association to Rock Steady Crew. Although none of the current members of his chapter had battled anyone from the Rock Steady Crew they had already gained the respect of Crazy Legs and so were accepted by the Bronx chapter without question. It would be this Manhattan chapter that would eventually rebuild the popularity of breakdance in NYC.

1981 would be the real turning point for Rock Steady. In August, photographer Henry Chalfant from National Geographic offered Mike Holman a chance for the Rock Steady Crew to perform at the Lincoln Center Outdoors Program. This outdoor performance was covered by local New York City television stations, as well as The New York Times, The Village Voice, New York Daily News and National Geographic. This performance, a battle against rival crew The Dynamic Rockers, would later gain them worldwide exposure. Founder Jimmy D saw the broadcast on television and was so impressed with the buzz that Crazy Legs had created for the crew he made him President of the entire Rock Steady Crew. Crazy Legs then made two members of the Manhattan chapter Frosty Freeze and Ken Swift Co-Vice Presidents.

In winter 1982 the Rock Steady Crew was invited to perform at the Ritz nightclub, the list of other performers that night included the post-punk group Bow Wow Wow, Afrika Bambaataa, and the Jazzy 5. After this performance, Crazy Legs and Frosty Freeze asked Afrika Bambaataa if they could join the Zulu Kings, considered then to be the most highly respected of the b-boy crews. Bambaataa allowed them to join, and included the entire Rock Steady Crew as members of his "Zulu Nation". Soon after that performance the Rock Steady Crew became caught up in the diverse 1980s NYC club culture, which at the time was a mix of Rastafarians, Punk rockers, New Wave listeners, and, of course, hip hop fans. The Rock Steady Crew expanded at this time into a large family like group consisting of women, children, roller skaters, graffiti artists, and DJs. This would also be the year the group, and breakdance in general, became bigger than NYC.

In early 1983, the Rock Steady Crew became managed by Kool Lady Blue, who booked them on the Roxy Tour sponsored by Europe One Radio. This tour took the Rock Steady Crew, Afrika Bambaataa, Fab Five Freddy, the McDonalds Double Dutch girls, various DJs and graffiti artists from the rubble of the projects to London and Paris, and was the first international hip hop music tour. The Crew also appeared on the Jerry Lewis Telethon for the second time that year. In November of that same year Elizabeth II asked them to perform at the Royal Variety Performance in aid of the Artists Benevolent Fund. At this time the London scene was developing fast and furiously and was responsible for such innovative moves such as the fabled 'English back spin' said to be invented by Jonathan Fletcher in Covent Garden.

The tour would lead to a short record deal with UK record label Charisma Records. Their release "Hey You, The Rock Steady Crew" went gold and was a top ten chart hit in Great Britain. The Rock Steady Crew saw little of the proceeds however, due to their lack of understanding of the music industry and their poor contract negotiations. The Rock Steady Crew alleges they were taken advantage of by Charisma Records who would not allow them any creative input. When Charisma Records went out of business they were sold to Virgin Records who indefinitely shelved the deal. This deal caused friction among the members of the group who decided to put Rock Steady Crew on hold for a while and concentrate on other projects.

1991 was a very important year for Rock Steady Crew, when up-and-coming rapper Q-Unique gave Crazy Legs a demo tape and lobbied for the revival of Rock Steady. Crazy Legs also had been receiving pressure to restart Rock Steady from World Karate Champion Jerry "Fast Feet" Fontanez. Grand Master Fast Feet persuaded Crazy Legs to restart the group; Fast Feet took Crazy Legs to the hottest clubs of that time, The Circle in the Bronx and the World Famous Nell's, to name a few. At the time clubs would play hip hop, so Fast Feet got the DJ's like The Duke of Denmark to play the Mexican, Just Begun and James Brown. They started doing routines and the crowds went nuts. The official return of The Rock Steady Crew was at The Source Magazine Show that summer. That night right after K.R.S One performed, led by hype man Q-Unique, Crazy Legs, Mr.Wiggles, Ken Swift and the new members Fast Feet and Kwik Step.

Crazy Legs also did the first Rock Steady Crew Anniversary free of charge at Rock Steady Park 99th and Amsterdam avenue in Manhattan. Since Tommy Boy record's New Music Seminar was in town people from all over the world were there, including Afrika Bambaataa, KRS One, King Sun, etc.

1991 also saw the return of Rock Steady Crew rocking in a music video, Fast Feet's Karate student DJ Professor Paul of E.S.P Select Records invited them to dance in his song Finger Tips. This time Pop Master Fabel also performed, once again Rock Steady Crew put breaking in the mix.

In 1991 Mr. Wiggles approached Crazy Legs about an idea he and Fabel (from Magnificent Force) had for a hip-hop musical called "So, What Happens Now?". Ken Swift and Buck 4 came on board and helped provide a scenario for the musical:

"You don't know what it feels like to go fill out a job application ... where it says, ‘what do you do?’ what do I write? I spin on my head?" – Buck 4Template:Fact

"So, What Happens Now?" was a critics choice in The New York Times and received rave reviews in The Village Voice, The Daily News and El Diario.

In a 1992 performance, they received a standing ovation led by Gregory Hines at the Kennedy Center Honors where United States President George H. W. Bush, and Gregory Peck were in attendance.

As of 2005 Crazy Legs is still President of the crew, with Fabel as Vice President. There are now Las Vegas, Orlando and Los Angeles chapters in the United States, as well as members in Japan, the United Kingdom, Italy, And Canada. Currently approaching their 28th anniversary, they have more goals in sight. They remain active in the community and are involved in several different outreach programs, having held several food drives for NYC pantries. One of their goals for 2005 is to start a Rock Steady foundation for children, which will provide dance classes and other after school activities.

In Japan, Rock Steady Crew Japan is led by a dancer named Crazy-A, who was one of the original Japanese break dancers. His group of dancers was originally known as the Tokyo B-Boys. Now, Crazy-A leaves it the younger members of Rock Steady Crew Japan to do the dancing. Many of the new members of Rock Steady Crew Japan come from Soka Daigaku, a University which has a well known break dancing team called D-Crew. <ref>Condry, Ian. Hip-Hop Japan. Duke University Press, 2006</ref>

In 2007 a remix of "Hey You, The Rock Steady Crew" by Jay C was released.

Rock Steady Crew anniversaries

The RSC holds an annual anniversary party in the Bronx, to "symbolize the preservation of the history and the evolution of Hip-Hop Culture."Template:Fact This party is a community event which brings out many local DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, MCs, and hip hop fans from all over the world. It is also a time where the current members honor the past members who have retired, and those who have died. The 30th anniversary climatic concert, held in Lincoln Park in Newark, NJ on July 29, 2007, featured what may have been the most impressive lineup of legendary hip hop luminaries, including EPMD, Biz Markie, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Soulsonic Force, Dana Dane, Chubb Rock, Craig G, Just-Ice, Lords of the Underground, and Naughty by Nature, as well as contemporary acts like Thirstin Howl, Planet Asia, Polyrhythm Addicts, and DJs like DJ Scratch, Q-Bert, JS-1, Tony Touch, and Evil Dee.

List of members

Pre-1984 Hiatus

  • Jimmy Lee
  • Boo-Ble
  • Pauly
  • Lime-5
  • Rubberband
  • Ain-yuc
  • l-Mack (Weebles)
  • Doctor Ace
  • Slick Rick
  • Popeye
  • Buck 4
  • Rim 180th
  • Tito 183rd
  • Me 2
  • Green Eye Joe
  • Braces
  • C.N.
  • Les
  • Angel Rock
  • Bon 5
  • Kippy Dee
  • Baby Love
  • Mr. Freeze
  • Kuriaki
  • Doze
  • Rip7
  • LilRip7
  • Robbie Rob

Post-1991 Revival

  • Sweepy
  • DJ Charlie Rock
  • Smerk
  • Heps Fury (former member)
  • Floor Rock
  • Quiet Riot
  • Koolski
  • Jeromskee
  • Rahzel
  • DJ JS-1
  • Rhettmatic
  • Flea Rock (former member)
  • Servin Ervin
  • Denote (former member)
  • Unico
  • Shonn Boogz (former member)
  • T-Rock
  • DJ Eclipse
  • Tuff Tim Twist
  • Evil Dee
  • Artson
  • Double T
  • Renegade
  • Mega
  • Jeskilz
  • Mari
  • Teknyc (former member)
  • DJ Wobbles
  • Ynot
  • Venum
  • Luigi (former member)
  • Masami
  • ATS
  • Skeme Richards
  • Smooth
  • Bonita
  • DV One
  • DJ Presto One
  • DJ P
  • Flowmaster (former member)
  • Maurizio (The Next One) (former member)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Rock Steady Crew" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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