Domeshots & Fat Laces vol 5: Ken Swift

originally posted on Jan 12, 2006 7:36 PM

This week we have an interview with B Boy extrordinaire...

Ken Swift

Ken Swift

Name: Ken Rok,aka,Kid Zoom,aka, MadMugs,aka, Ken Ski,aka,Prince Ken Swift,aka, Kid Extra Nasty,aka,Ken Swift
Age: 35
Location: Money Island, NYC, Upper West Side Manhattan RSC, NYC, BreakLife NY

Tell us about the first time you ever seen B.boying and what made you get into it?

The first time I saw bboyin was 1978, first I was shown a shuffle by a friend, and then soon after that I saw it a jam in a party thrown at a church hall and at a jam around my block. I think Ron Daris was the first rawbboy I saw, and Im using the term bboy in its true context. We were into anything and everything around the way.We were wild and were into playin in the pump, playin ringaleevio, kick the can, hot piece a butter, tag no touch,bike stunts, playin in abandoned buildings and having rock fights,,...when I saw the rockin and how different ,radical and high energy it was, it fit right into to the type of stuff we was doin. I was already writin graffitti in the streets and motion taggin so, through that scene I was introduced to breaking.

Who are your influences/inspirations?

Past, ..Greggo,(originality, speed, flexibility) Ron Daris, (flips) The Light Brothers, (flips)Kid Sorceror, Deno Rock (RIP), Kid Terrific, Markie Dee (RIP), The ..1 Sure Shot Boys, DominicanFreddy, Shakie, Magnetic (power, spins), Kid Galaxy,(power, spins) Buck 4 (RIP), Spy, Trac, Ice Ice, Pierre, Lil Lep, Pex, DST, Mr. Freeze, Frosty Freeze,(character) Crazy Legs, Kid Spy & Migo (for the UpRock), Lenny Len,(footwork).........................Presently,........too many to mention.

What were the golden years of B-boyin in NY to you in your opinion?

The Golden years had to have been before I came in the mix, ....those where the raw years of early development, my golden years were 80 to 83, I was in my raw no thinking stages, no fear, thirsty to battle, off the dome, up & coming mode. A lot of the people I was around were better than me so I was Lucky.

When you first began dancing, did you ever dream that it (bboyin) would get to where its at today?

No, i didnt look ahead at dreams of fame stardom etc, ....we were just doin what was happenin, me, thats like sayin, "did you ever dream that ridin a bike would get to where its at today".

What is your definition of foundation?

I believe that foundation consists of the essential mentality combined with moves from the first years of development, to me was that person reacting and dancing to a song with no shame/that person with the flava gears, that when you looked at them you knew they was ready/the attitude that you was the one who would out dance the others at the jam/the one that did something incredible that you never saw before....the mentality stands out to me, ..because when you apply those characteristics to moves, those are what make the moves personal and dope. I mean, if I show you an old "foundation move" and you dont flip it with your adobo on it, its gonna look wack. The kids back then just had that flava thats kind of unexplainable, thats why you loved to see them rock, I dont think they applied too much thought to it, they just went out and went bananas when the music came on, ..thats the foundation! Lettin the music rock you, ..letting go.

Alot of the best bboys were stick up kids and ill street dudes who could care less about fame........Now, there are "foundation moves", but being that I started a lil later on, my opinion on it can be debated, .....I see it being, ...circular ftwk patterns, shuffles, chairs, babies, swipes, sweeps, spins- (head, knee, butt, back, etc.) back rock, single tracs, bridges, cork screws.

Rockin' has been around before B.boyin', when did you first get to see cats Rock (Brooklyn rock etc.) and how do you feel about the artform of Rockin'?

To me, when you say "rockin has been around before B.Boying" to me its a lil funny cause when I think of rocking, I think of breaking, ...........I really didnt call it bboying that much when I first started, ...,even though when I first heard about breaking, my friend told me, "check out this bboy shit" I guess you mean uprocking, my older brother Speedy used to run with a crew called The ..1 Sure Shot Boys, they were from Amsterdam Houses on 61st. St. in Manhattan, ..he was 4 years older than me, ...I saw them rock a lil bit, but they broke mostly at the parties, ...I was younger so I was looked at like the lil shorty goin for his on the breakin tip, they were one of my biggest inspirations, ...other crews were The Four Aces, The Midnight Rockers, The Da Boys, and some members from Rockwell Association. They hung out around 83rd st. & Amsterdam, I lived on 97th & Amsterdam. I saw more Up Rock when I went to USA Skating Rink in Queens, the cats there were crazy dope, ..but I saw so little of it, that when we went back to my block, we had to try to remember it which was hard because we didnt have someone to show us, ..but then again we wouldnt have asked someone to show us anyway,, ..we kind of developed a different type of style and delivery, we were primarily into the breakin but we did our lil Up Rock here and there. Thats the reason why we called it Brooklyn Rock, I was told that it started in Brooklyn so, ...nuff said, ...heads came up in the nineties and tried to diss me saying I was doing it wrong , but, ..with all due respect (cause I have the utmost respect), the dudes that popped the shit didnt step to me, I stepped to them. The first time I felt like one dude edged me, ..but after that I learned alot from that battle and when we went at it again I felt like I shook shit apart, .....regardless of that, my heart I know they can Rock better than me. Ive been blessed to be able to get lost in music with that dance, and some of the music is so incredible that it gives you no choice but to Rock, ...I wish I wouldve came up with those dudes cause I know I wouldve been tight with that style. I still havent figured that dance out, when I watch the older legends rock, to me, I feel like a rookie, I have the ultimate respect. In my opinion, only the people that came up with that dance in NY in the early seventies, can flip that dance correctly, once again, over time people have seen moves and steps and have done them, but, there so much more to that dance, ..the songs structured alot of what was done, you had to be there in those ancient parties and jams to learn that. My favorites, Eddie from 93rd. & Columbus Ave., he was partners with Kid Galaxy's younger brother, they battled together with us against Dynamic Rockers at Liincoln Center, they were called Migo & Amigo, ... even though he was from Manhattan, he hung out in Brooklyn and he was outta control nasty in that dance, he's in the Planet Rock video battling on the checkered floor, .....then theres Eddie Ed aka, Kid Spy ...he was my bboy partner at one point, ....his Uprock was ill, ..he was also in the Planet Rock video, ..he's rockin next to a tv on the floor, he does this jerk forward then drops back into a split, and shoots himself in the head, check the video when you can, its sick. The other favorite is Spice One from Flatbush, Ive had the opportunity to meet him through Burn 1, to me he was tight beause he knew most of the styles from the different neighborhoods in BKlyn. Ive seen him rock and he definetly opened me up, ...also Sammy from Incredible Breakers, we practiced together a few times and I gained tremendously from that. Also, Chino & Brian, Incredible Breakers/Rockers Revenge,....these dudes are straight offiical hardcore brothas, ...Chino is a mad man with that dance, he's ill, those kids is Bronx Official 4realz.

What generation of B-boys are we in today?

I dont know!!?? maybe 5th generation .....72 -75 beginning,, 75 -84 most influential, overall structure point, 84-89 world continuance, 89-96 home & abroad B.Boy comeback, 96-01 event expansion/video era & retro commercial exploitation/positive rapid dance advancement opinion of course.

What was your most memorable battle?

A lot of good ones,...........but it has to be ..Rock Steady vs. Floormasters at Negril in NYC I think that was 82. Also RSC VII Gems vs a club full of BBoys in Tokyo 1997.

Who were some B-boys from NY that didnt get much limelight but definitely deserved thier rightful dues? (I hear about cats like German, Float, Incredible Breakers etc.)

You gotta understand how big breaking was in NY at that time, and how big the five boroughs are, had BX, Manhattan, Bklyn, Queens, Long Island, Staten Island, ...were talking massive numbers of mad hyped up kids, think about it if you are mentioning the names above, that means that they were noticed, ..but think about it like this, ..every neighborhhod had an incredible bboy in it , ....were talkin about 20 block radiuses, ...theres dudes that we'll never hear of that were amazing. Float for sure is one of a kind, need an interview with him on this site,....his dancing and top style is top of the line, ..he had he ability to make everything he did look effortless, you rarely saw him struggle with his moves, ..a true innovator of power moves,, he had dope footwork, ...if he was inthe mix I think he would be a definite contender even now. There were alot of dope crews, ....peace to ScramblinFeet also.

When did you first come to the Westcoast and get a glance of B-boys out west?

Its funny because I was born in Brooklyn but moved when I was almost two years old to California, father was in the Army, so I lived in Saramento, Eureka, Palmdale, Arbuckle, and San Francisco until I was six years old,..then I moved back to NYC. The first time I went to Cali. to break was 84, and by that time people had been exposed to breaking already. We, RSC, judged A Big BreakDance Contest. I remember seeing the most incredible Popping/Boogaloo etc crews, they did like 6 minute choreographed shows. We saw like 50 groups. I was completely blown away and never saw it like that before. We also performed at Magic Mountain, were we ran into OZ (legendary LA BBoy OZ Rock), who had left NY and came to LA, and was real popular with the breakers. The breakers were doing incredible spins, side moving ufo's, inverted elbow spins, blazing backhand 90's some ill original stuff. I met Tech, ..from Tech & Sway, ...he was with The San Francisco Ballet Breakers, .......the scene was definetly open, ....but most of the dancers were into power moves and spins.

Do you feel the European scene played a major role in keeping B-boying alive?

Without a doubt. ...Id rather say they played a role in keeping "Hip Hop" alive overall .......Europe held it down with all the elements, ..much respect, ......I think Europe and other countries played a major role in keeping it alive......but I have to say, back then, alot of people didnt know what real B.Boying was, and even though there were a few that were official, the majority of people were just into spins,....from the movies, most people drew to the spins and air stuff when they got into breaking, ...there were'nt that many people doing footwork & dancing to the beat. Idont say that as a disrespect in any way, but thats the way I saw it,...Europe has a great history of its own, ..Im sure there were a few people breaking out there in the early eighties,....we went to Paris and the U.K. in 82 and when we went back after Beat Street, it was outta control, ....we toured Germany in 84 for six weeks and people went coconuts. Australia also has to get its props too, ...even Japan has a thorough history.....put it like this whatever country that got a hold of Beat Street and Wild Style got their dose of Hip Hop. Props to Actuel Force, Gabon, (France), Maurizio, (italy.) Swift & Storm, (Germany) Evo, (UK) Nico, (Sweden) King Bee, (UK) Emilio & Marcella (Italy), Crazy(Switzerland), Wildcat,(Denmark) Crazy A,(Japan), Machine (Japan), Hiro (Japan), Renegade, (Sweden) Tech & Karma,(Norway) Swerve, (New Zealand) Rooney (Brazil) there are so many more but,...peace to all many world pioneers and legends old and new.

In the early 90's what pushed you to get back down and serious to B-boy again?

I went through alot of stuff that most of you dont know about, ....I got into alot of trouble in the streets.....we're talking like 84 to 87.........but through all the madness I always reacted to music and broke when I wanted to, I didn't practice everyday and all but , ..I never felt like breaking was dead or anything like that cause if i felt it, I did it,......people have said between this year and that year this one or that one stopped breaking......................when you have something in your heart & soul, no society or situation or rumour or propaganda can stop you from feelin it, ....see, ...when media and the masses started exploiting the dance and sayin breaking was played out, ...alot of people said,,....OK, ...and stopped ........I wasnt part of the time when TV made people start, I came into it in its underground state. So it has stayed in me always regardless of what TV, Magazines or people in the street said. After Buck 4 and Kuriaki's deaths, The Rhythm Technicians were doin shows and stuff, and then we, RSC, collaborated with them on the play "So What Happens Now? In 1990, I guess what pushed me was the fact that I knew deep inside I could rock, I wasnt makin much progress but I didnt give up. I was about 160 pounds, .(my breaking weight is 135) I was tryin to get down with the updated power and air stuff, my hip was destroyed from the early eighties, and I couldnt find a swerve with my dancing. I was frustrated because I didnt feel good about my stock (moves)....., after I lost the pounds I needed to, .....around 1993 while practicin I decided to take my old moves and put attatchments on to them, while focusing more on freezes... ...after that the flood gates opened up and I was makin up a different move or combo everytime I practiced, .. I wrote down all of the moves by name and number, in 97 I recorded 94 moves, four pages of combinations and moves in different catagories, I would go to practice and run down the list and do each move twice for execution and memory, when I got to the last move I would start over again, those who used to train with me have seen me with my papers laid out on the floor in the practice. Around 1998 I stopped keeping track of my moves by writing them down cause I toured like 8 months of that year, but since then Ive made up at least 40 more combos & moves.When I started lacin kids real easy, it was scary beause I still felt like I could get better.

What year did you get down with Rock Steady?

I believe it was 1981 .

Are you currently still affiliated with Rock Steady?

Ask anyone from around my way that question and they'll laugh at you and think youre stupid. ....but the again....... In 2001 Rock Steady Crew belongs to one person, RSC is a business, me "the crew" ended in the eighties. Go figure, from friends on the block just havin fun dancin to, one guy threatening the other that if he uses the name he will call his lawyers. Cmon bee, I laid the bricks son, from the get. My history is etched in stone. I rep RSC whenever and wherever I choose, I dont have to wear a shirt with letters, if you know the legacy, then that question is ludicrous. I got one thing to say to sum it up ..."Behold A Pale Horse".

Being an O.G. in the game and still gettin busy in the trenches, how do you feel about the scene today and where its heading?

Alot of the top BBoys who have influence right now, need to educate themselves on the history of this dance so they can understand and respect its journey,.. breaking is not a fad, it is a legitimate dance that has been and continues to be exploited and looked down on. In my opinion breaking is the "Original" dance of Hip Hop Culture. The younger generations need to know this. Unless there continues to be an educational effort in teaching the history of this dance, it will get wacker and wacker, and then it will be lost in sport and entertainment. This dance is for the communities of young people throughout the world to enjoy and also prosper from, but unless we understand what its been through, we wont know where its going. I like the dancing more than anything right now, ...its dope, and the competition level is tight, and theres so many dope and different styles flowin, mad super heroes and even a few complete B.Boys ...........................but, ..... The gossip is wack, the jealous haters are wack, the ones that lie about their history are wack, some events thrown by non bboys are wack, the NY pioneers that compromised their principles for money are wack, and the biters are wack.

What's your training schedule like?

My schedule depends on the time I have left over after my responsibilities with my kids are taken care of. If Im lucky If get Like 6 hours a week thats like two hours on three seperate days.

When your not into your daily routines, what do you do in your free time?

Believe it or not I get more free time when Im travelling than while Imin NYC. Im with my kids a lot when Im not in the mix. I like to work out with the weights every now and then, ...right now Im studying Investments, Money Management and Financial Planning. On tour I like to chill with the local people and soak up their culture & traditions.

What's your all time favorite jam to bust to?

Every song has a different effect on me, I think I have about ten alltime favorites, but I would have to say, it might be Apache.

If you could see two crews or two particular B-boys battle it out, who would they be and why?

I havent seen who's out there lately but maybe, .. Moy /Lil Rock vs Iron Monkey/Ruin , Crumbs/Reveal vs Kmel/Remind ....why, I dont know, ..I just made it up, ...thats a hard question, why you tryin ta strain my brain?

How do you feel about B-boyin and how its getting more play in the commercial industry?

B.Boying isnt getting play in the commercial industry, ..breakdancing is. I think its corny when people dress up in tiger suits with booties on their feet and break in front of jungle back drops, or do incredible tricks to a song that doesnt have a break, ...why cant they ever show it the way it is, and why cant they ever show someone dancing on top to the beat without spinning or doing a trick. ....what can I say, I think breakers are being pimped and so many people want to be seen in a video, that they do whatever is asked, I just cant do it because I came up differently, ..I have principles and Ive seen how that hurts the dance, .I believe in creative control...........people that see breaking in vids only see one or two seconds worth, ...and they'll never get a glimpse of our dance because they never show someone dancing, ..they only show a visually incredible move, ...this is why some people say " breakdancers don't dance they just throw their bodies around acrobatically." But also, I dont blame the young cats for doin it and I aint hatin them, ...I just laugh when I see pioneers play themselves for that dollar, ..these are the same dudes that I sat next to on panels that used to bark about how people shouldnt play themselves in that way.

When judging battles, what is your criteria?

Whetever is brought to the table between two people or two crews,....choose who executes the best, and does what they had to do to win.

Who are some crews that's out today that you are diggin right about now?

BreakLife World Reps, Strategic Air Command, Zoom Platoon. ........jusplayin, ....., ...too many to post, and so many I havent seen.........Peace to 7 Gems, .......the original Seven Grandmasters ..................Dude, know I can go down the list for every state. Im diggin the crews that are versatile, the ones that have a person for every style that gets presented, ...the complete crews. And Im diggin the crews that regardless of how good they are, can chill with, and not have to worry about the BS, respectable people who have open minds to dance, and dont diss original style. Peace to all my BreakLife jiggas out there, yall know the tempo.

What are your thoughts on the tragedy of the recent terrorist attacks?

Its a changing world, have to have faith and live each day to the fullest, ..theres no telling what the future holds. Its a tuff situation, but I have faith in God and understand that good will always overcome evil. Im just into trying to do whats right while Im here, I've been blessed and I dont take that for granted. Enjoy life people, tomorrow is not guarenteed.

What advice would you give to up and coming B-boys and girls?

Respect your mind and body, enjoy breaking for what its truly worth, remember this is a dance, business, protect yourself, see the world if you can, challenge yourself first, your main battle in life may be with yourself. Ask questions, Always respond quick when you get hit by a dope move, control your anger, let your dance do the talking, try to master all styles, learn the history, set goals, train hard, know your priorities and be responsible for your own actions.

What projects are you currently in the works with?

My final vid, "ill Padrino"

What is your biggest pet peeve about the scene today?

Jiggas get ten dope moves and think they the shhh.

Is there any possibities you would ever do a book or something of that nature where you would tell your lifestory as a bboy, myself and im sure thousands of others would definitely pick that up.

If you know somebody who knows the procedure to do a book, ..let me know,..Ive thought about it.

Any last comments for the people at home?

Thank you to all the people who have approached me and givin me respect,....I never take for granted the compliments that people give me, and personally those compliments are the true jewels that I value so much in my life at this point. People have made me feel like I made a difference in their life and that makes me feel like it was all so worth it. Stay real with yourself and be cool. one million. Ken Swift Corleone.

Interview was conducted in October of 2001


Read a Ken Swift Biography

The Dynamic Hamza 21®

Hip Hop since 1982.

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