1. You came on board a couple of years after the Rock Steady crew(s) were formed, how did you get down and what was the experience like in the early days?
Crazy Legs: I got down the way any person should get into a crew. I earned it. In 1979 I was already part of one of the largest, if not the largest Latino crews in The Bronx. The name of the crew was The Bronx Boys (T.B.B). Although I enjoyed being a part of T.B.B., I also wanted to be part of a squad that was a lot smaller and had incredible skills. Being that some of the members of Rock Steady Crew were also down with T.B.B., it made a lot of sense to try to be down with them. I also got along and chilled with them from time to time when I would bump in to Jimmy Dee, Joe Joe, Easy Mike, Trace, Weebles and Jimmy Lee at a local Bronx underground social club on Crotona Avenue called Mom & Pops.
Mom & Pops was the spot to see all the new moves that brothers were working on all week. It was a time when b-boys and b-girls practiced with people that were down with the same crew. It made the element of surprise that much better at the next jam. Anyway, my cousin Lenny Lenn (Rockwell Association) had the opportunity in 1979 to battle Jimmy Dee (original President) and Jimmy Lee in a tenement building in The Bronx. The battle wasn't so much about winning. It was about showing how you held your head in the heat of the moment. It was a 5-point battle. We lost the battle 3 rounds to 2, but we brought it and had the fire they were looking for in members that they would put down with them.
2. From an Original-Gangster perspective, what does "b-boy" mean and how has that concept changed over the history of the culture?
CL: I don't know about me being an original gangster, but I'm definitely a b-boy that did get his hands dirty from time to time. Some things were unavoidable with the amount of peer pressure that existed. The word b-boy had two meanings - Bronx Boy and Break Boy. The concept over the years expanded out of ignorance. RUN-DMC being from Queens had heard about the term several years after it came to be and thought that it was fly as well, and used it to describe the way thugged out brothers would stand. Hence, the term b-boy stance. This is not my opinion. It's from an actual conversation that I had with Jam Master Jay and DMC during a panel discussion in the Bay area several years back. In my mind, the term b-boy should only represent the dancer, the way emcee represents the spoken word of Hip Hop culture.
3. Speaking of the culture, hip hop has become a mainstream marketing concept that's probably gone further than anyone ever dreamed, what has that been like for you in terms of the way you express your art and how it is received? Have you gotten rich?
CL: Rich? hahahahahaha. Not even close. But then again rich is a matter of perspective. As for mainstream marketing, I feel that there's nothing better than getting paid to do what you love the most. There just needs to be more accountability on behalf of the brothers and sisters out there that bastardize the culture, compromise their integrity and call it Hip Hop.
4. How long have you been producing the RS anniversary events and what are some of your personal highlights and lowlights with the project? Details, details, details…
CL: In 1991 Christina Veron, Shauna Hoods and myself threw an event called "Straight From The Heart". It was to honor members of RSC that had passed away, and [serve as] a reunion for Rock Steady Crew. The event was a mess from a logistical stand-point, but the vibe had to be as close to what hip hop was when it first started. The following year I decided to throw an annual Rock Steady Crew anniversary.
One of my favorite moments over the years would have to be bringing Brand Nubian together for their first performance since before they dropped their first albums. No one had ever seen them perform any of their cuts from their first album until they came to our event at Rock Steady Park on 98th Street & Amsterdam Avenue. As for the lowlights - that is only for the people behind the scenes to know. The only thing that's important is that [the people] have a great time when they come to our event.
5. As more artists blur the line between hip hop and house/dance music (in much the way featured artists the Jungle Bros did way back when) how do you see this changing the nature of the art form both positively or otherwise?
CL: I'll let the rap artists argue about that one.
BONUS: Care to share what's next for the Rock Steady crew and on tap for next year's anniversary?
CL: I recently signed an endorsement deal with Fila and Red Bull. Fila will be putting out a Rock Steady Crew Sneaker and a Crazy Legs Sneaker. As for the rest, people can check out the Crazy Legs Workshop.
Bubbling up from the streets of The Bronx in the mid to late seventies was a singular movement that would one day change the world. Driven by funky beats, tight rhymes or rapping and an aggressive form of acrobatic dancing, what we have come to know as hip hop culture was being lived by dozens of the boroughs youth who made it up as they went along. Creating one of the last truly original musical movements in modern times. As one of those innovators, street dancer Richard Colon or Crazy Legs found a positive alternative to gangs and earned a lifetime membership (and a co-presidency) in one of the culture's most well-traveled crews Rock Steady. This summer, he produced his twelfth anniversary / reunion event for the crew which celebrated twenty-six years of battling, dancing and hip hop in a three-day event that took place around the city. For these 5-Questions, we go behind the hype to find out how his undiluted commitment to this cultural expression endures, how best to earn your props and what's next for this hard-working rebel rouser. Holla! VIEW 38TH ANNIVERSARY EVENT