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“A lot of these ideas that I had, I thought they were a bit outlandish for high art venues like this, but I guess that’s testament to the reason why it worked.”

Urban culture, youth culture, Hip Hop culture or just plain Hip Hop, whatever you call it, it’s safe to say that this phenomenon hasn’t missed a step since its inception in the early 70’s. Birthed through creativity and expression, the foundation was laid for its 6 pillars (depending on who you ask) the DJ, the MC, graffiti artists, beat-boxers, b-boys (break dancers) and street fashion.

Whether you embodied all of these artistic outlets or just one, this inclusive way of life provides so many ways to express oneself all under its core value ‘Peace, love, unity and having fun’.

In these early days, the UK was one of the first to adopt to the aforementioned tenets and one individual that embodies all of these principles is hip-hop impresario Jonzi D.

He has always been a firm part of British hip-hop culture through MCing, spoken word and dance over the last twenty plus years. The London Contemporary Dance School graduate first brought his Hip Hop creativity to the stage, with the theatrical productions ‘Lyrikal Fearta’ in 1995, and ‘Aeroplane Man’ in 1999. He went on to take his artistic prowess all over the globe while also working with a host of notable MC’s and Spoken Word artists. It was this work that led him to create Breakin’ Convention (now in its 12th year) a family friendly weekend of b-boying, street dancing, graffiti, cyphers and dance workshops housed within London’s famous Sadler’s Wells theatre.

I sat down with Jonzi and street dancer/sneaker enthusiast Godson to gain an insight into the weekender and the importance of footwear in the world of hip-hop dance.

CJ: How did Breakin’ Convention come about?

Jonzi D:  “It started as a result of me doing Aeroplane Man, a hip-hop theatre show, around 1999-2000, I performed this at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank. Alistair Spalding was working there and I remember saying to him ‘We can do a festival, because there’s a lot more people that are doing this kind of work around the world’. So he then got the job as chief executive at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and he said ‘Jonzi should we try this hip hop festival idea that you had?’ The first show we did started big, Bloomberg sponsored it and we just killed it. We had DJ’s spinning in the mezzanine in the building, graffiti art painted directly onto the white walls in the building. A lot of these ideas I had I thought they were a bit outlandish for high art venues like this, but I guess that’s testament to the reason why it worked. Because he was so open enough to say look lets try this thing. We brought over the Electric Boogaloos some amazing artists from France, I was just doing a program of work that I thought people would love to see and I would’ve been happy if we just did one, we smashed it sold out that first time, we got five star reviews in the broadsheet papers. That was the birth of this thing, we’ve been going on 12 years now. Five national tours over the years, we did our first international date which was at the Harlem Apollo Theatre, which was dope because it’s also a stones throw away from the birthplace of the culture.” 

CJ: How did that show in Harlem go?

Jonzi D: “We Killed it, I was hosting with MC Lyte, we got amazing reviews for that and one of the artist got a Bessie award which is a big award in dance. We’re going back this year, so we’re developing relationships out there. We’ll also be doing another venue in North Carolina and we’re in talks with Detroit.”

 CJ: How did you first get involved with BC?                                                                        

Godson: “That was through Boy Blue Entertainment, I pitched an idea to Jonzi D and he liked it. He gave me the opportunity to perform it at the Lilian Baylis, which is within Sadler’s Wells. From there I did alright, felt I could of done better, and got invited back the following year and I’m doing it again this year which is my 5th year.”

CJ: When did you start breaking?                                                                                          

Godson: “I first started when I was 15 years old.”

Jonzi D: “I started breaking in 82’ and I stopped breaking and 84’, because Jonzi D is the MC, but ultimately I embrace the entire culture. As a result of me training at the London contemporary dance school, people know me as a dancer and a B boy, but I disagree, two years of training doesn’t make you a B boy. But what I can say is that when it comes to dance I always look to hip hop dance styles as a way of creating theatrical work. So just to be clear I’m an MC.”

 CJ: Do you consider yourself a breaker or a dancer?                                                          

Godson: “I consider myself a street dancer, because I do a few styles crump, hip-hop, house and I pop a bit as well.”

 CJ: What trainers were you wearing when you first started dancing?     

Jonzi D: “The trainers that I was mainly wearing were knockoff trainers that I would draw over and colour my name into. This was 82’ to 83, at that time I literally couldn’t afford expensive trainers and £30 for trainers back then was something that my parents could not afford to pay for.”

Godson: “I’ve been in to kicks for so long, I was wearing quiet a few to find the one that was best for my suited dance style and one that also looked good on my feet. It was probably an Air Max Plus TN white, I was wearing those first and I was going through a lot (of shoes) because some were comfortable for dancing and some were better. I was looking for trainers with more of a flat sole so I started wearing Jordan Flights, then I fell in love with Huaraches when I was 14 and I was learning how to flip and because it has a nice cushion I was able to flip on concrete and I wouldn’t damage my knee. Blazers were very good for Crump because of their solid sole. Then I got in to Puma’s I think are one of the best for a dancer it holds its sole nicely they are not very durable I think after 6 months of dancing in them they’re finished. I still wear them now, its my safe go to trainer.”

 CJ: Do you have a particular trainer that you prefer to wear for dancing?

Jonzi D: “Right now it has to be the Air Force 1’s or ‘Uptowns’ or as they call them in America. They are so comfortable, because I’m at this stage in my career and life, that I don’t need to go through pain to look cool! Adidas trainers used to hurt my feet and for the whole of the 90’s I was walking around bruk’ foot, because I wanted to look cool. But I don’t have any allegiances to a particular brand like I did back in the day.”

 CJ: Is the technology of the trainer a major factor for dancers?                                                          

Godson: “It’s so important because for dancers, everything we do we feel it under our feet from stepping to running any kind of footwork movement we do feel it in our knees. It is very important to have good cushioning and ankle support, but it does depend on the dance style your doing and how well it works for you.”

 CJ: What do you look for in a trainer?

Jonzi D: “I tend to look for black trainers, or trainers that look like walking shoes to be honest I like interesting colour schemes as well but I do like earth tones. But a problem with me is I’m very specific and if I make a mistake when buying trainers and don’t get what I am perfectly after then I just won’t end up wearing it and I’ll just leave them in the cupboard.”

 CJ: Hi top versus Low top trainers?                                                                                                

Jonzi D: “Definitely lows because I feel the high-tops limit your ability to point and flex the foot and that may limit what you can do choreographically. But then at the same time when it comes to footwear ‘Crump’ dance, I remember Timberland boots were a big deal, the way in which the dance happens and this move is called to stomp, I think that the fashion of baggy trousers and Timberland boots which was a very early 90s look that rappers had for ages, dancers started employing that look, things like going up on points are easier as a result of the strong sole of the boot so I would actually say to suggest that just trainers are part of this dynamic influencing and being a part of hip hop dance also extends to Timberlands.”

CJ: If you could design your own trainer what would it be?

Jonzi D: “First they would be really light, I’d want them to have the technology that would allow you to change the colour of them. something like that would be dope in a shoe.”

For more information on Breakin’ Convention be sure to check their website: http://www.breakinconvention.com/

 

 

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CHICKEN CONNOISSEUR: FORGOTTEN NIKE AIR MAX PLUS TN MODEL’S

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Chicken Connoisseur with The Nike Air Max Plus TN

 

The Chicken Connoisseur sat down with us to discuss the cultural phenomenon that is the  Nike Air Max Plus. The model more commonly know by ‘TN’ or Tuned Air, was designed by Sean McDowell and has elevated to a cult-like status within the sneaker scene has long been documented since its launch back in 1998. The forward-thinking design, multi-layered upper, and the beloved ‘sky sole’ set the trend for that era and laid the foundations for various Nike releases that came after.

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Chicken Connoisseur

For those of you that have been sleeping under a rock, Elijah Quashie rose to fame back in December 2016 when his Youtube series The Pengest Munch rose to viral fame. The Tottenham natives video reviews of London chicken shops take a Gregg Wallace review approach and blends it with London slang, humor, and style. The self-proclaimed ‘food critic for the tandem’ regularly reviews some of London’s many Chicken shops scoring the food quality out of 5.

Check out his ‘What’s In My Trainer Collection’ episode HERE

 

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NOVELIST: WHAT’S IN MY TRAINER COLLECTION?

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Novelist's Trainer Collection

While many know that Lewisham born grime emcee Novelist, has bars in abundance, not many people know that he also has a serious line up of creps in abundance. In this episode of ‘What’s In My Trainer Collection,’ the young wordsmith sat down with us to discuss his relationship with Nike over the years, his trip to the Nike HQ with Skepta, as well as some of the key pieces in his collection.

“I’m not a hypebbeast at all in any way. I don’t chase style!” 

Novelist

While his collection features some choice Nike Air Max 95’s, the “Pay What Is Owed” MC also gives us a look at his Nike Air Spiridon’s Roundel and his involvement with Roundel. The highlight of the video has to be his Air Jordan 4 Kaw’s that resale for a hefty price., 

Check back soon for part 2 of Novelist ‘What’s In My Trainer Collection?

 

 

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KRANIUM: WHATS IN MY TRAINER COLLECTION?

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Kranium's Trainer Collection

Dancehall singer Kemar Donaldson AKA Kranium, sits down with us to share some key pieces from his collection during his UK visit. The “Nobody Has To Know” singer says his trainer game has stepped up since his career took off. Check which kicks he’s currently feeling and which ones are his go- to creps.

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