Bringing Brooklyn Together Through Hip-Hop

Photos Joe Hume

Several years ago, Nabil West, now 35, suffered a major accident. “I was reminded more than ever to really spend my time doing what I love,” he tells us—which includes organizing a new monthly breakdancing event in Williamsburg. Only, don’t call it breakdancing—it’s b-boying. “‘Breakdancing’ is a term often used in the exploitation of the dance style, but not really a part of the language used by b-boys themselves,” he tells us. Furthermore, “calling b-boying ‘breakdancing’ is like your mom calling your boom box a ‘tape player,’” he says. “Not fresh at all.”

He hopes the functions, which will feature dancing, DJing, and live MCs, will bring the community together. “Hip-hop is universal, appealing to all types of people from all types of backgrounds,” he tell us. “You can ask a 53-year-old Dominican man on the train about it, and he’ll start speaking of the party rockers like Grandmaster Caz and Kool Herc at Sedgwick & Cedar. In the same subway car, you could ask a late-20s hipster who their favorite Wu Tang member is and most likely get a good answer. Meanwhile, a 15-year-old is sitting right next to you with Homeboy Sandman blaring out of his headphones.”

Speaking of young people, West is coordinating with a local middle school to invite some of its seventh and
eighth graders. “I want the kids to see the DJs scratching on the turntables, the b-boys gettin’ crazy on the floor, the live MC performances,” he tells us. “There’s going to be a live funk-soul band playing beats while b-boys are rockin’. That’s just incredible to see in person! With any luck, maybe some of the younger heads will be inspired to pursue something they previously perceived to be out of reach. Hopefully, because of the event, community, hip-hop culture, and all the elements within it will become that much more tangible and accessible.”

The next “Community: A Monthly B-Boy
Function” is Sunday, June 10, from 3-8pm at Public Assembly, 70 N. 6th Street, Williamsburg.

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