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Mr. Wiggles, Hip Hop Pioneer
12/15/04 - exclusive interview



breakdancer Mr Wiggles picture

Its been long overdue that run an interview with an established b-boy considering Latinos, Boricuas in particular, have made major contributions to Hip Hop. So to kick things off right, we get the 411 from none other than hip hop pioneer Mr. Wiggles.  Born and raised in the South Bronx, and raised on Hip Hop during it's earliest years, Wiggles is a writer (graffiti artist), B-Boy (breakdancer), MC, popper and a practitioner of locking. You've seen him in the classics Beat Street and Wild Style, and his moves have graced videos like Usher's "My Way", Missy Elliot's "Work It" and Limp Bizkit's "Rollin".

A member of the legendary Roc Steady Crew, Wiggles took time out to speak with LR about Hip Hop history and more. How did you get your start in b-boying/breaking?

I'm from the Bronx, and I was surrounded by both Rockers (Uprockers) and B Boys all my childhood, so I just followed what the older cats did in the streets, and my sista Wanda got me into Rockin (a more Latin dance style that was more vertical)

Your graf work didn't pick up until a few years after you started rocking, how did you get involved with that?

In the 70's I was so involved in anything and everything that was in the Bronx streets, and back then we didn't just do one aspect of HIP HOP, we did it all, and writin' was definitely one of my biggest passions in the streets, I started out cause my cousins NAC 143 and DAZE, NAC is my real cuz, and we would just say that DAZE was also our cousin, was down with a well known
crew called CYA (crazy young artist), and DAZE was featured in Wild Style. They would come over my house every weekend for family parties and get togethers, and bring black books and photo albums, and I got hooked and started bombin' the IRT lines, mostly the 6 train lay-ups.

Who were some of the people that inspired you as a b-boy?

In my area it was a brotha from Bronx River named Beaver. He was popular at the time and was down with the famous Bronx B-boy Crew Zulu Kings.

In the late 80's, you were doing Broadway performances, followed up in the 90's with mostly off-Broadway work and choreography. How did you get involved with theatrical work?

Theater work kind of just fell on my lap. It was during the time when B-boyin', Poppin', Lockin' was being brushed off as a fad. And I was blessed enough to get these phone calls from theater people looking to spice up there production with something different. After doing one, I started getting mad calls from all kinds of Broadway people, and started taking it more serious, and eventually did several productions on my own and with Ghettoriginal dance company. Including off Broadway shows like Jam on the Groove, Hip Hop Wonderland and Mad Hattan.

You've been in videos for artists like Madonna, Usher, Limp Bizkit and most recently Missy. With your accolades and experience, shouldn't we be seeing you in more videos?

Haha, tell that to these c*ck blockin' choreographers.... Haha, just kidding.

On your site you offer practical feedback to newjacks in the game, have you considered working as an industry consultant?

I think in my experience, and position in Hip Hop, I will always help young people in the culture, just to keep them on the straight and narrow.

You've got some great stories about battle experiences, what was your most memorable battle and why?

I guess the battles in Japan. They were real competitive, and it was mad fun. That kid Go was dope in the mid to late 90's and had as many moves as I did at the time so we had some ill battles.

As far as graf, you've been bombing from the Bronx to as far as the Middle East. Do you still get down?

I still get down once in a while, no more illegal sh*t though, but I like to throw down when ever I can, and I'm always creatin' new styles.

Worldwide recognition of breaking started mushrooming in the early 80's. How has breaking changed in the last 20 years?

70's it was the funkiest, realest, rawest, and mad street era. Crazy Flava

80's it went from the creation of incredible power moves to being commercialized

90's it got more technical with the Europeans adding some incredible sh*t

2000 and beyond, more young heads are starting to dance more like the 70's, but very few will catch the essence of the original styles like the OG's.

You appeared in two groundbreaking Hip Hop flicks, Wild Style and Beat Street. What affect do you think these movies had on graf, breaking, MCing and DJing as a whole?

WILD STYLE was raw, and real, but the script and acting sucked. But you can still feel the energy of what Hip Hop was all about in this movie. And everything was high caliber sh*t. B-boys, DJ's, MC's, and writers were all real and at the top of there game.

BEAT STREET was allot more watered down, and still a bad script and they had actors play the characters, so the acting was good, but it made it seem even more fake. The graff was also fake done by a union artist who just bit ideas from real writers and he did a horrible job. The MC's were real but were forced to wear a lot of funny a** sh*t, and rhyme about corny sh*t. The B-boys were real, and the battles were real, but the editing was what messed up some of the dance sequences. Wild Style wins by a landslide.

What advice to you have to anyone interested in becoming a b-boy but live where there is no exposure to experienced breakers or competitions?

Get as much info on real foundation before you peruse this culture. Learn from the ROOTS, and FOUNDATION.

Finally, where do you see B-boying in another 20 years?

I hope I don't see it in the Olympics like a lot of people keep comparing it to. B-boying is the art of dance not flips and tricks, it's something you feel and the only way it would work in that format is if it done the way it was done in the streets. And that's battles. I would hate to see a B-boy with tights on doing perfect windmills with pointed toes, and legs straight looking like a gymnast tryna break.

I hope that young dancers gear themselves more to theater and stage, and try and put on full productions. And I also see the underground getting stronger, but we need more real B-boy jams and less B-boy events. I'm tired of going to a B-boy event and seeing these young dancers with backpacks dressed like bums warming up and stretching on the floor, and breaking all day and night showin' every lil move they got. A jam is more of a party atmosphere, you gotta get down and dance with girls, and feel the music, and when that James Brown beat hits you, you get down and rip, and and the moment is gone, you go back and party some more and save some moves for the next session. That's the real sh*t.

Anything else you want to add?

Right now I'm representing two of the most amazing dance crews of our time, Rock Steady Crew and The Electric Boogaloos. I am incredibly blessed and honored to be down with these crews. And also me and my partner Zeus started a clothing line called "Brigante" so be on the lookout for our gears. High end Latin flavored hip hop gears with mad ghetto elegance. Peace.

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