Lil’ Cesar is one of the most influential names in Hip-Hop. In 1984 he brought together the Air Force Crew an offshoot from one of the early West Coast Breakdance Crews known as The Shake City Rockers. Known throughout the world for his dance skills and his non-stop efforts in keeping Hip-Hop along with all its elements alive in the minds of the people. Lady A.i. speaks to the man himself.
A.i.: Hi Lil’ Cesar, my names Aiwan; welcome to britishhiphop.co.uk…
LC: Aiwan? Thanks, nice to meet you.
A.i.: Nice to meet you too. Air Force Crew were the first Breakdance Crew to pioneer power moves; it brought a lot of power to the scene; would you say that's true?
LC: Yes, we innovated in the whole dance scene; we used to call them air moves.
A.i.: Other than the power or air moves, how else have you influenced Hip-Hop?
LC: I’m always contributing to Hip-Hop; back in the early nineties I was inspired to bring the whole movement back, ‘cos you know in the early nineties there was really no Breakdance in America. Emceeing became the only voice for Hip-Hop. So I started this event called Radiotron. Through Radiotron I contributed to the culture in Los Angeles by bringing together all the elements and not just the emceeing. So, that event happened and it inspired other events around the world such as the UK B-Boy Championships and others too.
A.i.: How do you feel about your contribution to Hip-Hop, are you satisfied with what you’ve contributed?
LC: Oh yeah, most definitely, I’m actually living my dream. When I started, my dream was for the whole world to start breaking and beat boxing and doing all the elements again. So now when I go to the UK B-Boy Championships and Korea, I’m fulfilling a dream. Getting to take my wife and my daughter to events as well is part of that dream. I also like that it’s not just the emceeing that’s at the front but all the elements are now frontrunners. It’s a blessing to do what I do. On top of that the City of Seoul in South Korea just gave me $2,000,000 to set up the biggest Breakdancing competition in the world!
A.i.: Is Breaking still relevant?
LC: Yeah, Breaking is right up there with all the other elements. It’s changed though; the different styles keep on climbing. It’s a beautiful art-form. Remember the Queens Jubilee? (A.i: Kinda…) well we were actually there and got to perform at Buckingham Palace for your Queen! Basically at that time in Hip-Hop we were the young kids representing Hip-Hop amongst the legendary musicians that were there, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins and so on. We brought Hip-Hop to Buckingham Palace which I would say makes it relevant to the whole scene.
A.i.: Music isn't really made for the dancers nowadays, how is that affecting what you do and the art-form in general? Especially as in Hip-Hop most producers aren’t really making beats for the b-boys & girls?
LC: Yeah this is so true what you’re saying; the DJ makes a huge contribution to the dance. A lot of the artists they’re not making the music like back in the eighties that we can dance to, everything is slowed down; it’s a whole different style these days. So when I’m saying the DJ’s make a great contribution I mean that what they’ve done is gone back to their crates, the old crates, and pulled out some of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s beats, combined it and put it together like breakbeats so they can speed it up. It’s a fantastic job what they’ve done, DJ Renegade from the UK really did a great job with that. Hip-Hop is in changing mode, I think the MC’s now are gonna be going back to the origins and inspiring the young ones to make music that can also be danced to.
A.i.: Where do you see Breaking 20 years from now and how would you like it be in 20 years?
LC: I see it as a Dance Sport / Competition; I see it as an Olympic Dance Sport. So everyone can be earning a great amount of income and the art-form can be represented the way it should.
A.i.: What does Hip-Hop mean to you?
LC: Love, peace, unity and having fun. It’s a powerful culture that God has given us, it was made for us to look within and find the power within. It’s a powerful social movement that can never be stopped. When people have tried to stop it, it just reinvents itself. I couldn’t imagine the world without Hip-Hop; there would be a lot more people getting in trouble without it! Just to add on top of that, I am working on a multi-million dollar project and I’m bringing people together to open a Hip-Hop School of the Arts, with curriculums and a syllabus etc., to really teach and empower people around the world. It’s gonna be a whole academy with school in the daytime and a youth program afterwards. We’re developing a formula so others can follow.
A.i.: What defines or makes a good b-boy or b-girl?
LC: It’s just once you embrace, understand have the respect in knowing the culture and not disrespecting the culture. Really just learning and understanding the history behind it.
A.i.: One thing I’ve seen is that some of the breakers don’t seem to know the history behind what they do and they simply do it for the dance; also a lot of the Breakers – the guys especially, seem to focus on the power moves often with mediocre footwork and next to no rhythm – it almost seems to be less about the dance and more about the athleticism how do you find that?
LC: I always say that when people come into the dance the thing that attracts the eye the most is the power moves. So a lot of the kids go out there and what they wanna do is what’s current; so they go current and then they go backward! Somewhere along the line it’s gonna hit them and they’re gonna say ‘wait minute, I need to learn the foundations’. So what I say is, there’s nothing wrong with just learning footwork or power moves… just make sure you come back to the foundation. For me I’m just impressed that they’re getting involved, ‘cos I know that at some point it’s gonna hit them so I’d rather not put them down, I’d rather inspire and guide them.
A.i.: Who's doing it for you on the scene right now? Any crews or individuals in particular?
LC: The Koreans! They’re in the front, running the whole b-boy scene. You know, what I love is to see unity in a crew and they have that and more, they’re fast, they got footwork, they have power, they have all the elements and that’s why they’re on top. I see Japan; the Brazilians’ are really good. I really love Mouse and also Kaku from Japan. Some of the guys out there are real young like 18 years old and doing some amazing things.
A.i.: B-Girls…. who is hot dance wise (of course)?
LC: Bibish from France is one of the nicest b-girls, Pepa from the USA…
A.i.: What do you think of Flowzaic from the UK?
LC: No I’m not familiar with her… (A.i.: Nah it’s cool they’re a crew…)
A.i.: Your advice to the B-Girls out there?
LC: I’m always intrigued by the b-girls, ‘cos this dance is a very challenging dance, so when I see a b-girl get down it inspires me. So for me it’s like don’t give up, you know? Let your passion, inspiration and commitment drive you more than anything else. ‘Cos once you’re driven, passionate and inspired by the dance, then it fuels everything else. It’s always a pleasure to watch a b-girl get down.
A.i.: Thanks Lil’ Cesar, much appreciated.
LC: Thank you and it was nice to meet you.