Friday, March 12, 2010

The Re-Education of the Hip-Hop Head: Ultimate Breaks and Beats Tour Launch

By Nerenda Eid:

BB Kings was host to the consummate backpacker’s dream last Wednesday night when the Ultimate Breaks and Beats Tour DJs brought the story of hip-hop to life. Down the stairs into the main performance space the usual suspects you’d expect to find at a show like this were represented in force along with the old heads, the guys who supported the music before it even had a name.

The night, hosted by Ultimate Breaks and Beats (UBB) co-founder Louis “Breakbeat Lou” Flores, featured 3 generations of legendary DJs including Grand Wizzard Theodore, Eddie B Swift, Steve Dee, Evil Dee, Mr. Walt, Lord Finesse, Kenny Dope, and DJ Mocha, among others.

What I thought would be a simple review of a tour launch party turned into something much greater than I’d imagined once I had the chance to sit and talk with the DJs slated to spin. Onstage, each delivered 9-minute bite sized sets throughout the night that took the audience back to an era where hip-hop was pure and organic.
While they managed to conjure magic behind the decks, it was the mutual respect and camaraderie these guys share that struck a chord with me. They’d crowd around watching in reverence as the others played and crack jokes while hanging out backstage like siblings in a Mormon-sized family. And family is exactly how they viewed one another – the word coming up again and again with each interview. They were all appreciative of the lack of ego and competition that generally pervades the music industry especially with a group of that size and of that caliber.

Spearheaded by Eddie B Swift, the tour came about when Breakbeat Lou was pulled out of a 15-year retirement after appearing on DJ Scratch’s and Da Beatminerz’s respective Internet radio shows. Swift started connecting the dots and what initially was supposed to be a party celebrating UBB and honoring Lenny Roberts snowballed into a tour as more and more DJs began to sign on. Everyone had their reasons for joining the tour, but the general consensus is to inspire the next generation while returning the DJ and the skills that come with it back into the hip-hop pantheon.

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