Breakdancer Edukate has been challenging her students to show their moves via private Facebook group. Photo: Luis "Lprad" Prado
“Beat this, chump,” my cousin challenged me via Instagram. He dove onto his back with both legs crunched in a near fetal position, then feverishly spun in circles on his back.
I watched the 15-second video a couple more times as I stirred chicken adobo on my stove. I decreased the heat to simmer down the soy sauce and vinegar. Afrika Bambaata and the Soulsonic Force’s “Planet Rock” was already playing in my office about 30 feet away from our kitchen. “Turn it up, please,” I yelled to my kids — interrupting their hip-hop dance session on the TicTok app. “Film me real quick, then send it to your tito’s [uncle’s] IG.”
I dropped onto the linoleum floor and did some footwork, a preliminary break-dance maneuver in which I balance on one hand at a time as my feet shuffle around me in a clockwork motion. I picked up momentum then did a few swipes, a variation of footwork where I kick my legs into the air in a gyrating motion. Then rolled into a backspin, completing about ten revolutions before kicking myself up onto my feet and freezing.
“Like Bruce Lee, Dad,” yelled our 10-year-old daughter. “Take that, Tito.”
On March 14, Kate “Edukate” Morrissey guest DJ'd and breakdanced at the Poder B-girl competition in Mexico City.
A couple days after she returned to her University Heights home, Governor Newsom issued the stay at home order. So she was called out by her fellow b-girls (breakdance girls) online. “I almost kicked the kitchen table when I tried to do a 1990, which is like spinning on your hand. We have a dance friendly house. We just move the furniture and we have tile floor” to spin freely.
“The whole dance scene was getting involved in online battles and it kind of exploded that week. It wasn’t just people in the breaking scene. San Diego has a really rich community of a lot of different styles of dance, whether it’s waacking, [or] popping.”
Edukate is a breaking instructor at Culture Shock Dance Studio in Old Town. “I’ve been connecting with my students, and I’ve been doing Zoom classes with them. I created a private Facebook group, so I post challenges for my kids, because they’re all home from school. They record themselves and post the videos in the Facebook group.”
The stay-at-home orders have affected the other branches of hip-hop culture. Local graffiti artists known for their large and colorful murals throughout the county are doodling on sketch pads and clothing articles, then posting their pieces on Instagram. Hip-hop DJs are mixing on Facebook and Instagram Live, then uploading their mixes on SoundCloud.
“A lot of DJs have been asking about repairs, because they have the downtime to get their equipment done,” said Neal Cunningham of From Scratch DJ Repair. “I’m sending pics and videos back and forth with them.”
Some rap-musicians reverted to slinging merch on their sites — including shirts, hats, autographed memorabilia and CDs — as they await for venues to open up again.
“When Bandcamp said 100 percent of the proceeds go to artists,” Edukate said, “I definitely jumped in on that and tried to support a couple of people, like Ric Scales, a local rap artist, he was one of the guys I liked.”
On March 20, fans reportedly purchased $4.3 million of music and merch from Bandcamp to support artists impacted by shutdowns.
Ricardo Rodriguez, known in the Tijuana hip-hop scene as “Badts,” said his freestyle-rap comrades have taken to online battling since Baja’s stay at home orders went into effect. “Our freestyle MCs at the moment are doing something called the 16 Bars Challenge, and it’s on an international level, including Cainef, who was a multi freestyle rap champion in Tijuana, and two years ago he placed third in the Red Bull Mexico competition.”
Tecate resident Izhar Padilla, known as “SBeaTz” in the hip-hop community was slated to compete in Poland’s Grand Beatbox Battle on April 3-6. “It had to be moved to December of this year, and in the meantime, the promoters did something extra where online beatbox battles were carried out on the Discord community and friend platform.”
Beatboxing is a method of vocal percussion in which the performer imitates the sound of an electronic drum machine using the voice.
SBeaTz’s buddy, Mike Gonzalez from Ensenada, entered the online Grand Beatbox Battle. “Mike passed the first stage of elimination being among 120 different beatboxers from around the world, then he went to the pre-elimination stage on March 30, being among the top ten official rankings at Grand Beatbox Battle online.”
In 2015, SBeaTz founded Baja California Beatbox, possibly the first beatbox community in Baja. He and his buddies compete throughout Baja, Sonora, and the U.S. “The lockdown affects us. In the meantime, we will start organizing online events either by Discord or video call by the Zoom platform.” On April 18 and 19, SBeaTz and Mike Gonzalez will enter the Beats VS Covid online beatbox battle.