Two young men from St. John's who have been relentless in their efforts to build a hip hop subculture in Newfoundland are about to give the music, dance and lifestyle genre's presence on the Island a big boost.
On Sept. 19, Memorial University will play host to some of the country's top hip hop and b-boy (break) dancers, who, alongside one of Canada's hottest new DJs, are coming for the province's first hip hop dance competition.
Matthew Power and Paddy Greene, the pair behind "Hustle To Get Here," a weekend-long conference-style event, say the days of Sept. 18-20 are going to be big for Newfoundland's emerging hip hop scene.
"This is the first hip hop dance competition in Newfoundland, so we're trying to introduce to people what hip hop is about," says Power, who's also a member of local breakdancing group East Rock Crew. "The fact that these guys from Toronto and Ottawa are coming down to help us out and hopefully jump start our scene - it's going to give everyone a little bit of an education on what being true to hip hop culture is really like."
The focal point of the three-day event will be the dance competition, which takes place Sept. 19 at Memorial University's Field House.
"The main attraction is dance," explains Power. "We've pushed people in studio commercial hip hop out of their studios and one-year recitals and set up a challenge where they perform and compete in a much more confrontational and organic environment."
Five local hip hop dance groups will compete, says Power, each having a chance to showcase their five-minute choreographed routines.
The winning group will be awarded a $500 prize.
"It's judged on style, how synchronized they are, how well they work as a team, how good of dancers they are and things like that," Greene explains.
On the breakdancing front, the top 16 b-boys of Eastern Canada will be go back and forth in a "battle-style" dance competition, with the winner taking a $1,000 prize.
An impressive lineup of judges has been assembled for the event, including Benzo of Toronto's Bag of Trix, Crazy Smooth of Canada's oldestb-boying crew Canadian Floor Masters, and Dyzee and Puzzles of the Supernaturalz crew - "some of the people who've made Canadian b-boying what it is today," says Power.
Emceeing is Toronto b-boy and standup comedian Mariano Abarca, who will also teach workshops throughout the weekend, while Halifax's DJ Cosmo, winner of the 2009 Red Bull 3Style national DJ search and subsequently "one of the best DJs in Canada right now," says Greene, will supply the music both at the competition and the afterparty.
"He's gonna blow people's minds at the competition and at The Breezeway," he adds.
While the competition and workshops are open to all ages, the afterparty, at Memorial University's campus bar The Breezeway immediately following the competition, is a 19-plus event.
Even with 1,400 seats to fill at the Field House, Power and Greene seem more than confident the event will be successful.
"East Rock Crew has been performing here for years," he says, referring to the breakdance group he's a part of. "Young kids, people our age, our parents' and grandparents' age, are all amazed by it. Whether they have a knowledge of hip hop culture and how b-boying fits into that or not, they're all amazed by the dance. The MUN Moves student society is filling up, our practices are getting bigger and bigger by the week.
"There's more and more support, more and more interest," he adds. "We just really feel that we have an opportunity now to make this big event happen, make it big, and that people will love it. But we also have a really good opportunity to expose people and to really put people on a level of comprehension with the dance and (show them) how much fun they can have doing it and how much it can change their lives."
For more information on "Hustle To Get Here" visit www.eastrockcrew.ca.