Come for the hip-hop, stay for the barbecue
In 1988, when he was 9, Rizaldy Cruz moved with his family from the Philippines to Oceanside’s Deep Valley neighborhood, which was at that time was teeming with gang activity. Cruz, who has long been known as DJ Kid Riz, eschewed gang activity and instead became one of the most prolific local promoters of all things hip-hop.
“We started the Higher Dimension or H-D B-Boy dance crew. We would dance anywhere we could, at house parties, in garages.” The crew got noticed with their impromptu shows in front of the Oceanside Pier-adjacent amphitheater locals call the bandshell. Crowds assembled as each H-D crew member hit the deck while a boom box belted tunes.
“We got a couple articles in the North County Times,” recalls Riz. “One night it was raining, and this Parks and Recreation worker named Alonzo invited us inside to the [next door] Beach Community Center. We actually got a stage with a wooden floor. We totally took advantage of it. We never went back to the bandshell. All these other crews like the Jabbowockeez started showing up.”
Seeing the benefit, the City of Oceanside allowed the H-D B-Boys continued use of the stage for years to come. But Riz’s first show as a promoter almost didn’t happen. “I rented the place for $40 and hour. But a few weeks before, because our posters had graffiti, they thought we were all about gangsters and drugs. The city not only told us to take their logo off the poster, they said we would need to hire security guards, eight cops, and a police sergeant. I was going to have to cancel the whole show when [councilwoman] Esther Sanchez showed up and got the Elks Club to pay for the whole thing.”
That show was a success and Riz has been throwing events with dance crews ever since. “Almost everything I’ve done involves B-Boy…. I got two turntables and a mixer and started to spin in like 2001.”
Riz moved to metro San Diego in 2005 and started DJing for shows sponsored by the Armory hip-hop stores at venues such as Onyx, Red Circle, B Street Alley, Martini Ranch, and Aubergines with other local hip-hop artists such as Tribal and Wild Style. Although the Armory has folded as a storefront, Riz says all the key players “still exist as a member of the Armory crew.”
By the time Riz moved back to North County in 2010, he was not only promoting and booking but financially backing his own shows. His most successful club night was his Thursday night called Lyrical Skoolyard at Boar’s Crossin’ in Carlsbad, which ran for three years. He says the popular series ended because of the City of Carlsbad. “They were afraid of too many people from the urban culture coming to Carlsbad.”
All of his ongoing events, at places such as the Cabo Grill and Firewater Saloon in Oceanside, still plug into local DJs, MCs, and B-Boy dance crews. His success with promotions drove him to open Skoolyard Records, a mostly vinyl record store in Oceanside which has become a haven and creative source for rappers who make their own beats.
- Saturday, September 15, 2018, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
403 Wisconsin Avenue, Unit G,
Skoolyard Records celebrates its two-year anniversary with an in-house show featuring MCs and B-Boy dance crews Saturday, September 15, from 2 to 8 pm. The free admission show includes complimentary BBQ.