Way back in the day, rap acts like Big Daddy Kane, Kid 'n Play or even the late Heavy D weren't too cool to do choreographed dances in their videos or performances.
Nowadays, you'd have a better chance of seeing a rapper win American Idol than 50 Cent doing an elaborate jig in concert.
Then again, that's why it's important that hip-hop dance companies like Illsytle Peace & Productions exist and not only entertain with flashy moves, but it also educates youngsters and even older generations by teaching them the history of hip-hop dance (which is one of the four elements that forms hip-hop: the other three is emceeing, graffiti and DJing).
Illstyle will dazzle and educate park-goers with its unique presentation at Georgetown Public Library on Thursday.
Based in Philadelphia, Pa., Illstyle has taken its program throughout the country and internationally. The dance crew was founded in 2002 by Forest "Getemgump" Webb and Brandon "Peace" Albright, who doubles as the company's artistic director. Albright, an original member of Philly's first dance crew, also danced for major recording artists such as Schooly D, Will Smith, Boyz II Men, LL Cool J and Run DMC.
Albright spoke with the Dover Post about Illstyle's program, the benefit of reality dance shows like "So You Think You Can Dance" and more.
Q Give us an overview of your presentation in Georgetown.
A It's going to be fun for the kids and the community. It's about peace, love, respect and unity worldwide and making sure we're all one, and we all share the same gifts and talents and forms of expression in so many different ways. And it's educational. You get to learn about the history of hip-hop dance and where it originated from, some of the pioneers who paved the way and what Illstyle's focus is now, which is to inspire people through dance, the arts and education.
You're going to see a lot of different styles of hip-hop like locking, which was created by a guy named Don Campbell from the West Coast in the late 1970s. You're going to see some popping movements − the twisting of your muscles. The creation of boogalooing and popping was created by Boogaloo Sam, who's also from the West Coast. Then you're going to see some breaking, which came from the Bronx in New York − B-boys and B-girls. You might get a chance to see some surprises.
Q Can you elaborate on boogalooing?
Page 2 of 3 - A Sam "Boogaloo" Solomon is the originator of boogalooing, which is a form of popping. But it's its own entity.
Q Since there are a number of hip-hop dance companies, what differentiates Illstyle from the others?
A To me, it's purpose. When I come in contact with people after our shows or after I teach, or something, and they come up to me ─ I'm including parents ─ they're saying "You inspired me today," and I'm like, "Wow!" I really look at dance like hope for the world. I look at myself when I'm directing or choreographing like the Martin Luther King of dance. I have a dream. The dream is to bring everybody together and have everybody affected by a positive movement. I had somebody tell me this past week that their mom saw me perform in New York a while ago and after seeing us she said it changed her whole perspective on hip-hop.
Q How much do you think popular shows like "America's Got Talent" and "So You Think You Can Dance" have helped Illstyle impact people like that mom you just mentioned?
A I think it's had a huge impact because it's opened the doors for dance. [Reality] dance [shows have] been around since "Soul Train" and "American Bandstand," and the Campbell Lockers were on there. On "Soul Train" the Electric Boogaloos were on there. There have been a lot of other television dance shows that have been brought forth to TV and I truly believe any kind of television and media that's giving and paying homage to this … takes it to the masses.
Q In hip-hop culture it feels like the dancing aspect has overshadowed the rapping element. It seems most of the real lyricists are still underground. Do you think hip-hop dancing is more popular than emceeing?
A I think it's definitely coming to that point where dance is getting more popular than hip-hop music because the hip-hop music today isn't hip-hop music no more; it's foolishness. No disrespect to everybody who's making a living and who call themselves whatever they call themselves. But I'm saying in general, when I was coming up there was creative emceeing. It was called "Move the Crowd." It was the "MC." Even when it started to become rap, they were telling stories. You had Slick Rick, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and then it moved into N.W.A. with "We're hard from the streets." Then it never came back after that. Everybody wants to curse and call women this and talk about the Glock Nine that they got and "don't come over to my neighborhood." And it never came back to the lyricists. Right now, me and my company don't even dance to that.
Page 3 of 3 - Q What are your thoughts on the direction of hip-hop dance as opposed to when you were first introduced to it?
A I actually like where it's going. You have some people doing it and they're at the peak of what they're doing. But then you have some groups that are pushing the envelope. I've seen some groups in San Francisco and I was like, "whoa." So there are people doing it and pushing it to that height like us. We're doing it and we're making it into an evolution.
IF YOU GO
WHAT Illstyle Peace & Productions performance
WHEN 10:30 a.m., Thursday
WHERE Georgetown Public Library, 123 W. Pine St., Georgetown
INFO georgetownpubliclibrary.org or call 856-7958
georgetownpubliclibrary.org or call 856-7958