A local promoter of live hip-hop events maintains that San Diego’s dominant promoter has become such a force in the scene that he can freeze out competitors. Because he is afraid of repercussions, the smaller promoter requested anonymity.
He says that Chris Wright, a locally born impresario also known as CROS1, has the firmest grasp on the local scene because he is the principal owner of Armory Survival Gear, a company that serves the local hip-hop culture. The two stores (in P.B. and downtown) sell clothes, DVDs, skateboard decks, and other accessories. The store got a commercial boost last year when the Jabbawockeez break-dance group won $100,000 on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew while wearing Armory-created shirts.
Wright started promoting break-dance battles in Chula Vista over ten years ago. He says he first got a break in the local scene by servicing local club DJs with the latest vinyl dance discs.
In 1998, Wright copromoted his first break-dance event in Seattle. Since then, he says his company, Freestyle Sessions, has promoted break-dancing events in 18 countries, including Japan, Spain, Germany, Russia, Poland, Venezuela, and Switzerland.
“Now I pretty much let the promoters [in other countries] use my name. They fly me over to judge the winner and pay me to use [the] Freestyle Sessions [name].”
Wright says promoters tried to use his name and logo for a competition in Spain in 2003. “The break-dancing community is very small. I know people in every country. I could shut it down in an instant. They backed off.”
“A monster has been created,” says a hip-hop promoter who alleges that Wright/Armory will not allow other events to be promoted in the Armory stores or at any of Wright’s events. “People are afraid to say something because they are getting cheese [from Wright]. DJs from all the clubs are afraid to say something so they can go to his events in Japan.”
A different promoter says his posters were taken down from the two Armory outlets.
“I think a lot of people expect a lot of things,” says Wright. “If we put up one or two posters, then the whole store has to be available for everyone else’s stuff. I think you would find that nine out of ten people would say we are open to working with other people.”
Note: After going to press, it was learned that the Pacific Beach Armory store is not owned by Chris Wright.