From the Outposts of Hip Hop: The Stylordz -
Hip Hop as a physical science
On November 23rd, 2003, the Stylordz held their first Hip Hop Congress in a private, downtown Hamilton (a.k.a. Steel City, Canada) location. The congress marked a cap in the history of this organization and is truly an example of how Hip Hop has developed since its pioneering days – this rebellious art form and urban storytelling turned industry, philosophy and science.
The Stylordz Network has been working officially online since 2000 but has been working underground for over a decade as an independent organization, collaborating with Hip Hop artists, musicians, breakers, promoters and DJs worldwide. Today the Stylordz is both a school and a production/promotional company for Hip Hop artists in music (production, promotion, DJs), dance and graphic arts. TRX, the chief architect of the Network is using the Stylordz’ growing audience to pump the need to retain the passion and necessity that created Hip Hop. The mission is Hip Hop as a pure art form - constant evolution and expression that is personal and original.
In 2000, the Stylordz got connected online with their own website and its association with CanWeb, an Internet broadcasting system that gives independent artists a promotional medium for their work. The website and CanWeb association widened the Stylordz’ reach, receiving over 60 million viewers since conception. As the main players and the site racked up the hits, the Stylordz decided it was time for a formal introduction. The congress was an opportunity for the international Stylordz to physically meet, some for the first time. Two other key topics of discussion were mapping out new shows and ideas for CanWeb and the details for the release and video production of ‘Seeds of New Life,’ a song from Trigga featuring Kazzer.
“Trigga has had a long history in Hip Hop as far as Hamilton (steel city) is concerned,” TRX said during our phone interview. “We decided to work with him first because he has a long track record of performances and appearances on radio and TV. Kazzer is featuring in the song and also helping with the promotion of this project.”
TRX is the capital architect of the Stylordz Hip Hop Network, aspiring “to establish a central nexus for artists under the elements of Hip Hop.”
“I was originally an artist and into martial arts and dancing. It wasn’t till the mid 80's when I saw my cousin breaking and started to take dancing more seriously. I took to the music in the early 90's when I learned to use equipment and was circling around many artists at the time doing shows and making music. I was a chief member in the earlier crews such as 1st degree and The Bally Hoo Kru.”
TRX started using the Stylordz name around 1996.
Today, TRX is also the Director for the music channels in CanWeb. After running over six different break dance schools in the past decade, TRX can proclaim that most notable break-dancers in Ontario can trace six degrees of separation back to him, including Dyzee the winner of the Ricki Lake Break Competition and an international Freestyle Sessions competitor.
According to TRX, any artists wishing to be part of the Stylordz must be true artists, be original and self-expressive. “No artificial artists who copy what is the current trend in the market place. As for the dancers, I have been teaching for many years and naturally many student become members. We have a graffiti and DJ unit that performs services for those in need of them. They just have to remain committed and contribute to the whole. We have a membership and meeting occasionally to keep all updated. There is a management team that is more authorative in stance. Without it there would be no direction or organization. All members contribute in there own way and get free promotion on Canweb.”
“The Network has a core philosophy, which connects Hip Hop culture to the religious level. It is not a religion, but the belief is just as deep for the main members. All members are not required to believe in the same things as us for we support free thinkers but all members that produce products with us must do constructive work, contributing positively because nowadays media already takes care of the Negative side of Hip Hop. We link the artist to the other elements of Hip Hop. We express ourselves fully without following trends.”
TRX’s favourite Stylordz performance was a few years back called Xtravagana. Before going into the details, he mentioned that he had stopped organizing battles because of the unfortunate violence that disrupted previous battles. At the time, Stylordz was still considered an underdog organization. Xtravagana remains TRX’s favourite performance simply because it perfectly executed all the elements of Hip Hop in one choreographed show implementing the DJs, rappers with the breakers and the graphic artists. Other Hip Hop artists involved in the event were Against All Odds, Truthsayer and A Class.
Below is a rough outline of the definition of the elements of the Stylordz Hip Hop Network:
The STYLORDZ name is in direct co-relation to the individual artist.
STYLE = (A keen manner of expression)
LORD = (A pre-eminent master)
HIP HOP = (An elemental culture)
NETWORK = (An interconnected group or system)
The 5 Basic Elements of Hip Hop Culture:
The DJ – responsible for selecting music and play. The masters can perform their tasks with cuts and scratches.
The Breakdancers confronts limitations in the dance sphere by using th ebody to move, bend and freeze in patterns.
The Graffix artist – icon artists
The MC – provides the message negative and positive to listeners. Not a Rapper. Mic Controller. Master of ceremonies to move the crowd.
Prime movers – leaders. Ie Kool Herc, Afrika Bambattaa, Russel Simons, KRS one, Crazy Leggs.)
When asked what he would do if he couldn’t do Hip Hop, TRX said he would have studied physical science and that is the essence of what Hip Hop means to him, an exercise that involves equally the mind and body and developed into precision. As an example of how the elements of Hip Hop create a mathematical balance, he mentioned the injury of one of the Stylordz, Trigga. TRX convinced him to stay in Hip Hop because Trigga was a rapper. The tools he needed in his element of Hip Hop were still there - the mind and the voice. The breakers would compensate with the physical elements. TRX added that break-dancing itself involved the mind in ways that other forms of dance, like ballet, couldn’t because of its level of improv and broken beats.
The Stylordz’ inspiration stems from Hip Hop pioneers like Afrika Bambataa who “started out in Hip Hop in the gangs and moved into something more positive. Hip Hop today is moving right back into the gangs and the media is glamourizing this to young kids.”
TRX explained that Hip Hop is rebellious and its roots are angry but is not all that Hip Hop is about, although popular Hip Hop seems only interested in playing up to that kind of Hip Hop. It is misleading to portray Hip hop as just being about the rappers, ignoring the breakers, MCs, DJs and graphic artists. “Rap music is not the same thing as Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a culture and rap music is an individual rapping. Rap is like the head of Hip Hop and Hip Hop is the body.” It is also misleading to make Hip Hop equivalent to fast money and violence.
Hip Hop, as explained by TRX, comes from the disenfranchised, “it comes from the streets (as in the rougher neighbourhoods) but it was created and developed to keep us out of trouble, like instead of getting into that fight, I’m going to dance. Hip Hop tells the stories of the streets that the media won’t. It creates opportunities, enterprise, culture, pride, education. Instead of constantly feeling the need to escape the streets, the streets were developed to what it is today – yes, it is a business but it is also more an art-form and discipline than it ever was before.”
If there is anger in Hip Hop, TRX said, it is as a tool of survival for the poor or those living a hard life. There is no reason for suburban kids to want to have a street lifestyle just to seem tough or cool. Art itself is a form of rebellion, the desire to be one’s own self outside of the rest.
When asked if he had any predictions for the future of Hip Hop, he answered, “Eventually, Hip Hop will become so saturated with Puff Daddies and samples from the 70’s that Hip Hop will have to return to an art form, re-invent itself and become original again.”
Charly B will be performing at the Montreal Carribana in 2004. Kazzer is working on a 2nd album and TRX is teaching break-dancing at McMaster University. TRX added that until all of the Stylordz’ major projects are stable and self-sustaining, he will have to remain fixed in Toronto but hopes to return to the National and International Breakdance Battles.
As a final quote, TRX said, “We seek to bring hip-hop to a much more solid form, helping youth develop their skills and for artists to express their talents.”