When having a discussion about Hip Hop culture and the four pillars that stand as the foundation of this street-originated form of expression, there will be a few different answers when asked what the fifth element of the culture is, depending on who you ask. If you ask Hip Hop pioneer and international social activist Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon, his informative answers give you the undeniable truth of what Hip Hop’s most crucial element is about.
During the Red Bull BC One Cypher in Orlando, Florida earlier this month, TheSource.com had a chance to sit down with the Rock Steady Crew’s Don Dada about his community activism and how Hip Hop notables such as himself are using the power of Hip Hop culture to educate the youth and lead them towards creating more positive life choices. Legs is adamant about the importance of education to not only members of the legendary Rock Steady crew, but in the Hip Hop community in general. As someone whose involvement in Hip Hop culture can be traced over four decades, this b-boy icon knows that without an intelligent and calculated objective, you can easily become a person who can only see Hip Hop culture as a movement for personal gain instead of its original purpose, which is social change.
When asked about the importance of the culture and its involvement with social change, the 53-year old South Bronx native asserts, “When it comes to any social entrepreneurship or any movement that has to deal with crisis, I think it’s much bigger than being in Hip Hop.” Legs continues, “There are a lot of people in Hip Hop who are straight assholes who could care less. I think it really is based on who you are as a human being and how you respond to a situation. When I went to Puerto Rico and I landed there, I was there with a bunch of surfers. That has nothing to do with Hip Hop. The whole basis of me wanting to do something in Puerto Rico just had to do with me wanting to help my people. When I was younger, I was taught to use Hip Hop as a tool to help people because I was a part of Zulu Nation and those were things that were taught. When it came to that point in my life when I wanted to make a difference, it definitely was because of my Hip Hop surroundings that I chose the elements of Hip Hop as a way to get kids involved in something that they had a common interest in. “
There are obvious generation gaps in Hip Hop, especially among the artists and performers, but the RSC prez says that it has more to do with the values and principles than age difference. “If there isn’t a more positive purpose, just doing things for the sake of entertainment, I don’t know if they’re as aware of what needs to be done out there,” explains Crazy Legs. “At the same time, I see a lot of young people who are influencers and want to make a difference. I think it depends on who you’re surrounded with.”
As a role model and mentor to more than a few hundred b-boys and b-girls around the globe, there are prerequisites or “rites of passage” that must be carried out when one considers themselves a member of the Rock Steady Crew ,which is just a stone’s throw from the principles that the RSC was built upon. Rock Steady Crew b-boys such has Bale Rock, who works with Nickolodeon or b-girls like MyVerse, who appears on Wildin’ Out, had to push through wit their education before becoming Rock Steady Crew stand outs. “I think within Rock Steady, it’s hard to lead the pack in any particular field with the art because in Rick Steady, we push hard for education,” says Crazy Legs. “If you push hard for education and you’re a crew member who’s actually following through on that, that makes it difficult to train and develop your craft as much as you want to and also be competitive.”
Red Bull’s BC One Camp returns to Houston this upcoming weekend May 17-19 to host the competition’s national finals before heading to the world finals in India in November.