Rahzel, Beatnuts, Black Star’s Kweli, More Honor Rock Steady Crew

An estimated crowd of 6000 hip-hop fans, MCs, DJs, breakdancers, and graffiti artists gathered on New York City’s west side on Saturday for a free concert held in honor of the 22nd anniversary of pioneering b-boys the Rock Steady Crew.

The main stage featured appearances by the Beatnuts, Arsonists, Natural Elements, and Pharoahe Monch, but the biggest surprise occurred mid-day when Roots member and renowned human beatbox Rahzel was joined onstage by Black Star’s Talib Kweli for three freestyle-driven songs.

Saturday’s free concert was held on the banks of the Hudson River and was the highlight of the ninth annual event saluting the Rock Steady Crew, the internationally renowned pioneers of b-boying (a.k.a. breakdancing). The weekend included a series of parties, concerts, and DJ and breakdancing battles.

The Rock Steady Crew came together in 1977, showcasing unparalleled b-boying skills that would eventually lead to appearances in films such as “Beat Street,” “Flashdance,”
and “Wildstyle,” as well as countless showcases throughout the hip-hop community.

“We’ve been doing the concert since 1991,” Rock Steady member and event organizer Crazy Legs told MTV News. “We started doing it because we wanted to honor those in Rock Steady that had passed away around that time… and also, in retrospect, to show how it used to be back in the day when you could just go to a jam for free during the day and have fun.”

“We’re talking about a crew that respects all aspects of hip-hop,” Juju of the Beatnuts told MTV News. “Rock Steady is graffiti, MCing, breakdancing… all that. So it’s like their anniversary is like an anniversary of hip-hop.”

“This is what it was like before it was on videos and all that,” the Beatnuts’ Psycho Les added. “It’s just us rocking at the park. Breakdancing, music, speakers out there. So you know,
we’re still doing it out here. That’s Rock Steady. It’s real hip-hop out here.” [RealVideo]

Despite the stifling summer heat, dozens of breakdancers entertained the masses in circles broken out like mosh pits. The b-boy vibe, however, is a much more peaceful one than you might find at a rock show.

“Right now, it’s good that we do get the media attention,” Crazy Legs said on the resurgence of b-boying/breakdancing. “because it will inspire a lot of young kids to get involved with something that’s positive and have the opportunity to learn something that they can use to focus all the negative energy into. All that stress. Just go out there and be competitive, battle somebody. Get it out of your system and shake hands after.”

For more on the Rock Steady Crew, log on to www.rocksteadycrew.com.