Quick: Name the best emcee ever. How about the best DJ? There’s plenty of debate surrounding each of those questions. But ask hip-hop fans who is the best breaking collective to ever exist, and you’re likely to get a near-unanimous answer: Rock Steady Crew. Through appearances in films like “Wild Style,” “Beat Street” and “Style Wars,” along with constant touring and international spotlights, Rock Steady took b-boying from street corners in the Bronx to cities worldwide, and to this day is still one of the most influential crews in the far-flung outposts of hip-hop culture.
amNewYork caught up with the Crew’s current Vice President, YNot, in advance of Rock Steady Crew’s upcoming anniversary performance at SummerStage.
Rock Steady Crew has long been advocates for breaking and the spread of hip-hop culture around the world. But what did dance do for you personally?
When I found dance in the street, when I saw it in Times Square and Union Square, it changed my life around. It made me be a social person, made me get out, made me think about my body, about taking care of myself and wanting to get better. That competitive spirit in hip-hop challenges you and that was important to me. And having Legs as a mentor was important as well, because he was one of the first people to tell me to go to school, which is why I didn’t get down with Rock Steady Crew until later on in life. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I like design, and I’m thinking about going to college. And he said, “You should do that.” And now we also instill that into the young members of Rock Steady. We check their grades to make sure that they’re on point, otherwise we won’t let them battle. That’s an important thing. Dance is physical, but it’s mental too, and that’s a powerful thing, especially when you’re a youth and you’re trying to figure out what you want to do.
How did the Crew decide on Big Daddy Kane and Whodini for the show?
Big Daddy Kane has been a supporter of ours for years. Also he’s just one of those guys that is classic. He’s always had that vibe. We’re always happy to have him. And Whodini is a staple of hip-hop as well, and they were probably one of the first groups that brought out dancers with them on stage, too. We’re just trying to bring to the forefront music that this generation maybe hasn’t really heard, or that they’ve heard but haven’t seen it live.
If you go: The Rock Steady Crew 38th Anniversary Concert is at Central Park SummerStage on Sunday at 2 p.m., Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, free.