Rock & Roll
fans dream to be in Led Zeppelin. Baseball proteges fantasize of wearing Yankee
pin stripes. But in hip-hop, no allegiance and commradry could possibly mean
more than being down with the Legendary Rocksteady Crew.
Crazy Legs has
been down for over twenty-five live. He is the authority on hip-hop footwork
and the strongest namesake in the b-boy story. Legs is older and wiser than
the dimple faced kid we saw in flims like "Style Wars" and "Flashdance."
But like his agile
footwork, Crazy Legs can still amaze you with his take on hip-hop, his specific
element, and his place amidst it all.
down with a living legend, with nothing more to promote than the culture and
a way of life.
As one of the few active hip-hop heads who’s been known since before 1980, do
you find there to be an unwritten age cap in hip-hop?
Crazy Legs: Nah.
I mean commercially, there is. But I think when it comes to your skills, the
only element with an age cap is breaking. You can’t confront your body all your
life. You get injuries. You gotta pay dues. At the same time, the dues that
you pay with dancing, don’t necessarily manifest into money. But they definitely
can turn into injuries. It’s kind of like boxing. After you finish brawling,
you learn to become a boxer. And after you box so long, and you get to that
age, you learn to finesse it in your golden years. You don’t fight as much.
You’re probably not even as hungry to fight, but the fire’s burning you know.
as the dancer, how do you stay hungry?
CL: I think I’m
probably a lot more hungry to dance than my body is willing to. In terms of
being involved in the game for this long, it’s just about b-boying to me, but
hip-hop as a whole. I still support the dance. When I throw Rocksteady Anniversaries,
I involve all elements. Throughout the years, I [have been] supportive of all
types of events. When I do things, I like to incorporate them.
terms of injuries, what was the most balled-up you ever got?
CL: I don’t know.
You have different injuries. Like right now, I have two herniated discs in my
neck. I got surgery on my left knee. Surgery on my left thumb, my left toe,
my left elbow. I pulled my groin muscles, my back muscles, my rib cage. I’ve
pulled muscles in my arm pits. I’ve done a lot of damage to my body. S###, maybe
I should’ve been a football player.
there a particular record in all of hip-hop and outside that absolutely makes
you go bananas on the floor?
CL: I would say"
Give It Up Or Turn It Loose" by James Brown.
that a record that you had growing up too?
CL: I mean, I
grew up on a lot of James Brown music. I grew up on a lot of music done by other
cats. For instance Babe Ruth, Sly, there’s just so many artists out there. James
Brown’s music has had the biggest influence on my life.
Anniversary puts Rocksteady’s name up on a lot. But how does the weekend benefit
the whole crew?
still out there! It means that hip-hop still has legs. The legs of hip-hop are
very strong if you choose to keep working at it. In terms of the essence and
maintaining the foundation of [hip-hop] and not losing sight of what hip-hop
can represent in terms of being a political movement, a self-sufficient financial
[institution], a way to get in touch with your culture as well as be introduced
to other cultures. You have everyone at these functions bridging gaps and creating
opportunities for each other.
seems like it’s growing popularity in the suburbs and at parties as almost a
novelty. Regardless of location of what have you, how does it sit with you that
a lot of heads are taking this culture lightly?
CL: I tell you
right now, for all those people that are faking it. You should just admire it
and not even try to understand it. Some people just won’t get it. There are
people to that love hip-hop. They don’t have to have to fake the funk as a thug,
there are just certain things that are obvious that they don’t come from that
sort of upbringing or cultural background. It just comes across as trying real
hard. Just chill, have fun. If you don’t know
the words, hum along.
today, you got a flare, but you keep your ego in check. What’s held you back
from ego trippin’?
CL: I think the
most important thing to a leader of any crew is to be open to criticism even
if you don’t like it. Just take it and just continue to work on the attitude.
It’s a crew thing. There’s times where I say bugged things and do stupid s###
that’s just p##### off the crew. We may argue. But the thing I appreciate the
most is when somebody takes me aside and says,"Yo, we gotta point this
out to you." The day that I opened the door to that, things got a lot better
for Rocksteady as a family.
it rare in hip-hop for modern MC’s and producers to make break-friendly music
CL: Hmmm. There
are bands like Breakestra and Butter and other bands coming out. I think we
need to depend on them more than Rap artists. The days of MC’s dropping those
joints in the late eighties like Eric B & Rakim, those days are pretty much
gone, man. There are few records you can catch wreck too. Oner or two pop up
every now and then.
the New York city administrators, particularly the mayors weren’t always supportive
of hip-hop. With events like the Anniversary, has that changed?
CL: We’ve only
had trouble with the police one time. That was an isolated incident [too.] The
precinct over here, the sixth precinct, they are very helpful to us. They take
care of us. At the same time, it has to do with how we run our events. Everything
is run as a concert should be run.
what point in your long career did you see the impact of what you made and created?
CL: It was 1983.
I was in Hawaii. It was shortly after we had did "Flashdance." I was
on the beach, just chillin’. And this white man sitting close by me goes, "Hey,
I saw you on the David Letterman Show!" It was the first time I realized
we had fame outside of the Bronx.
Crazy Legs is
currently pursuing his production company: Backspin Productions, and doing media