The Enduring Art of Breaking
  • FRIDAY, JULY 04, 2014

  • Posted by: John Robinson

Have you ever walked by your college's gym on a Saturday afternoon and wondered why the vacant building was pulsing with an infectious beat? It's hard to imagine that any collegiate sport would be practicing to something so loud and mentally absorbing. But what's happening inside those gym doors isn't girls volleyball practice, nor is it some strange midday mixer; it is, however, a meeting of some of your school's finest athletes — the B-Boys.

You may have thought B-Boying was a dance style of the past but it's still alive and rocking hard. B-Girls and B-Boys are breaking across the world and exhibiting the crazy footwork and floor gymnastics that make it massively popular in the hip-hop community. B-boying was coined "Breakdancing" in the 80s by mass media coverage, but it hasn't experienced the same widespread attention ever since. Many thought that popular breaking movies like "Beat Street" were just a fad and dropped the style, but the art of breaking is far from dead.

As I mentioned earlier, one place where legs are currently spinning and kicking is in the competitive college community. I'm a member of my university's training squad and these beats have been what I've been hearing in the scene and also what I've been jamming to during practice. For those of you who had no prior knowledge of the breaking world prior or presently, I've assembled a list of some classic songs that have long helped maintain our movement, and by movement, I mean..



Brownout - African Battle

This is the type of song that you think of when you think of old school breakbeats. Latin collective Brownout delivers spicy funk that will make you feel like they're in the room playing to your moves. The wild energy that this song gains puts you in the middle of an African battle.



The Expressions - Money I$ King

This band really goes in for the kill with those horns. Jumpy guitar riffs make for what could be your lively top rock. The Expressions released this song in 2009 under Truth and Soul Records.



The Shaolin Afronauts - Kilimanjaro

Practice that lackluster footwork to this style of song. The Shaolin Afronauts offer a mesmerizing jazz tune with a lot of texture. Believe it or not this band consists of three-piece horn section, five-piece rhythm section, and three percussionists and they sure have a way of layering sounds. It's Afrobeat rooted music, with 1970s West African influence.



The Brothers - Brothers Groove

The Brothers made this song on a record that was released in Spain. Move to this interesting shuffle beat that makes for a good song to spin to.



Bobby Hughes Experience - Theme From Skidoo

This Norwegian group consists of DJs and musicians who recreate 70s jams. Cool organ melodies and intricate samba grooves make this avant-garde jazz very likable and break-worthy. The sound can go into a lounge feel but the African percussion always brings it back.



Lack Of Afro - When The Sun Goes Down

Lack Of Afro makes a compelling tune that meets on the intersection of jazz and rock. This subtly wild tune has an infectious and menacing bassline with creeping flutes that will make the hair stand on your arms.



Crazy Elephant - Pam

Believe it or not, this break song is from an American bubblegum pop group from the 70s that had a very short career from "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin." This song was added by the break scene in the past for its adrenaline-inducing percussion and groove.



Pacific Rhythm Combo - Honky Tonk Popcorn

Honky Tonk Popcorn? This jive-sounding name actually came out in '07 and the name fits its jumpy beat perfectly. It's another solid breakbeat featuring a cool organ solo amidst rocking percussion. You can practice some cool freezes to its beat.



Sly & the Family Stone - Underdog

Sly & the Family Stone released this song way back in 1967. It leads with a jazzy rendition of popular French nursery rhyme "Frres Jacques." You can imagine it being used in the 70s and 80s in some big break sessions. This song has lasted the test of time and is still is used widely today.



Might Show Stoppers - Hippy Skippy Moon Strut

This is the first side of a 7" vinyl. This vinyl carries so much funk and soul, you'll grab that cardboard and tape out of your backpack and jam almost instinctively hearing it.



Esperanto - Night of the Wolf

Side "B" of the funk-tastic 7" Vinyl. It's dreamy jazz perfect for impressing the crowd with a few of your power moves.



DJ FLEG - Otis Break 2012 Breakbeat

My final example is a more current and popular breakbeat that samples Jay Z and Kanye West's "Otis." DJ Fleg is a producer, DJ and B-boy with original tracks and re-edits just like this one.

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