DJ LEAN ROCK & THE CURRENT STATE OF MUSIC AT JAMS

Recently, the homie Lean Rock had some strong words to say in regards to the state of music at bboy events. We’d like to share it with you in all it’s glory:

Let me start off by saying this is not a subliminal diss and I’m not really trying to offend anyone. We all have the right to play whatever it is that we personally feel but I think it’s healthy to have an discussion about it. It’s all about the solutions and learning from our experiences. I truly care about the craft, I truly care about the music we dance to, and I truly care about people getting better at their craft. This is my perspective on this subject and I’m not trying to say I know the truth… but as an experienced dj in the bboy community.. I’m just really curious to why djs are playing some of the music they are playing now at these breaking competitions. I will use this one example to start it off because I personally felt it was way out of context for a bboy competition. I was scrolling down my timeline feed earlier today and I randomly clicked on a video. I believe the video was from Floor Wars this past weekend and the dj was playing a breakbeat remix of Migos “Fight Night”.
I understand that some people want to play something new or something recognizable/relatable to the younger general audience. I know Hip Hop is all about making something out of nothing but it’s also about keeping things in context. You play different vibes for different times for different settings. This is exactly why a dj wouldn’t play their “hypest” music during the warm up set… because of context yall. Learning context takes experience and guidance. I know it’s a little harder to find newer hip hop tracks to break to but there’s still plenty of artist releasing tracks that we can break to (this is the importance of digging). Maybe the dj didn’t understand the lyrics of “Fight Night” but the song is pretty much about “knocking out vagina”. There were 2 bboy crews at Floor Wars battling each other to a song about knocking out vaginas. I thought it was hilarious but I also thought damn this is pretty sad. It was confusing and weird. A lot of the newer songs that you hear on the radio or at the club are made purposely for the party/club/strip club. “Fight Night” would be more appropriate for a twerking battle rather than a bboy battle because that’s what it pertains to. You would usually see girls twerking or people doing ratchet sh*t to “Fight Night”. Layering a drum break over a really ratchet song is just awkward. I would personally feel really uncomfortable breaking to it just because of the message. It serves a better purpose at a party/club and not a breaking battle. I’m not going into the whole “real” hip hop thing or about the song being good or bad. This is strictly about context and I personally feel the context of that song has no correlation with breaking at all. If you can’t flip “Fight Night” to where it’s totally unrecognizable or flip the song to the point where you don’t hear those lyrics at all, then someone like myself will just think of twerking when I hear Migos “Fight Night”.
Honestly, I feel a similar way when I hear a lot of these R&B Neptune & Timbaland instrumentals being played in bboy competitions (N.E.R.D – Killjoy gets a pass though). I know a lot of the bboys/djs might be too young to know anything about these tracks.. so I’m not really blaming you. There are also some djs/bboys overseas that haven’t been exposed to club culture or just urban culture in the US in general… so I’m not blaming you either. This is all about understanding and learning. First I got to say, the obvious difference between Migos and earlier Timbaland and Neptune production is definitely the “ratchetness”. The similarity is here though… djs have been playing early Neptunes/Timbaland productions as party music for years (not in bboy battles). This music already serves it’s purpose in hip hop as party music (not music that we break to). So when I hear it in a bboy battle it’s really weird and awkward. A lot of these songs they were producing were more on the party vibe. The vibe for an bboy battle is not about partying…. it’s battling. If people are bugging out and having fun freestyling (mixture of different dance styles) at the event then it might make more sense to play this (during the down time). I really do love alot of the Neptune and Timbo production but my experience with this music is just party music. That’s what it has always been for me growing up. It’s not something I would personally would want to break to. I look at this way there’s music to 2 step to, there’s music to dance with a girl to, there’s music to chill to, and there’s music to break to. Every track serves it’s purpose and every track has it’s own unique vibe. If music didn’t have any purpose then people wouldn’t react to music the way they do. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by this music or just any music in general (I’m a Pharrell fan) but please just understand the purpose of what you’re playing. There’s a reason why House dancers dance to House music. There’s a reason why Footworkers dance to Juke. While we’re all relatives, we must all stay in our own lane to preserve our history too. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by something out of the box but learn how to sprinkle in the inspiration tastefully.
Jimmy Castor or the Incredible Bongo Band didn’t necessarily make music for bboys… there music was part of social and musical movement that gave birth to bboying in the early to mid 70’s in NYC. The message, the rhythm and the groove of these tracks made people dance this way. A lot of the music that came out during this time period brought out that funk and that feeling of going off. This is why these songs became our anthems. The best musical reference for early hip hop culture is the compilation series Ultimate Breaks & Beats. UBB contains the foundation of hip hop/breaking music. To stay on our path.. we got to look at that series as our bible. As much as we try to evolve, we must always respect the foundation of what we do.
I know I was very fortunate to have the guidance from many mentors and also blessed to be around hip hop culture first hand. I didn’t have to watch Beat Street or watch documentarys online to find out about breaking or hip hop. It’s been right front of me and I would love to share what I know to this younger generation. There are a lot of you guys that haven’t truly been exposed to the culture or had the opportunity to learn from an elder. So I’m just a little concerned for the future and I want to make sure the future gets somewhat educated on what they’re exactly doing. I feel like a lot of the younger djs in the breaking scene need to ask more questions and more of the experienced djs need to reach out to the younger djs. Let’s not make this discussion about bashing anyone but more about sharing perspectives. Peace.

Link to the original post HERE

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One Response

  1. Kasper Ruiz says:

    The truth! Foundation is key! Context is everything!

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