Hip-Hop Is Over Here

Las Vegas Hip-Hop – An Anthropological Perspective:

Las Vegas. The City of Sin, glitz, glamour and excess… and Hip-Hop?? Many people don’t see Las Vegas past the gaming floor, 5 star hotels, pool parties, strip clubs and continuous drinking. We don’t blame them as most are here to get in, do their business (maybe stay an extra day) and get out. What most of these people miss out on is the underground scene that the city has built. While Las Vegas is touted as a city of tourism, many of those tourist from far and wide, become so enraptured with the energy of the city that they become permanent transplants. With them they bring their respective cultures thus making the Vegas valley the new metropolitan melting pot of style and flavor. A relatively young city, this combination of people has made Vegas exciting grounds for art and a great city for hip-hop to thrive in.

1997 doesn’t seem that long ago but there was a time when there wasn’t a place for hip-hop on The Strip. This was when a lot of hip-hop’s brightest names today were on their grind, finding their styles. Going through some of my stuff I found these bits of nostalgia and history from a few years back. Presenting some Hip-Hop Las Vegas circa late 90’s:

Vegas isn’t that large of a city so the hip-hop scene is very close knit with only a few places and events to congregate at. The now defunct Da Joynt on the northern part of Las Vegas Blvd. was the shop back then to pick up the latest in Bboy videos and hip-hop gear (the other spots were Mr. Ragz and one other store in the Boulevard Mall). Mind you, there wasn’t Youtube yet and the internet was limited to dial-up AOL so our inspiration came from whatever we could get our hands on to see what the rest of the world was doing. This meant a lot of trading VHS tapes and cassettes. Da Joynt would throw nights such as this one and all-day park jams when all the local crews would come out and represent like a scene from The Warriors. Steady rocking was Knucklehead Zoo, Full Force, Nonstop Bboys (now House Of Reps), Rock Steady Crew and Rock Skittles Krew, all still putting down to this day.

Back then, we just did what we loved to do. It was long before the media put the spotlight on hip-hop as it does today. We just loved the artform and culture that we shared with our peers. With the explosion of DJ culture matched with the LV club scene, many hometown DJs adapted and stepped up to the plate to find themselves playing for parties of A-list celebrities and have become the major draw for people to come out to venues, gaining themselves sizable followings. Of these include DJ Five and DJ Presto One who currently have residence Sunday nights for Sin at Vanity Night Club in the Hard Rock. Five is also playing clubs all across the country as a S.K.A.M. Artist and Presto is touring as one half of the drummer/DJ duo, 51FIFTY and part of our SICKS Degrees Family. (I just got him to sign my mixtape… only 10 years later.)

Bboys too have come into their own. Kids from high school are now touring worldwide and are inspiring new generations of dancers. From Full Force, Ronnie went on to win the Red Bull BC One. He, along with Ben from Knucklehead Zoo also out of LV, flew into stardom with winning MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. Both of them are featured in the show MUS.I.C. starring the Jabbawockeez which includes Ronnie’s fellow Full Force member, Chris Gatdula. It’s a show that you never would have seen 10 years ago headlining The Strip. Logan of Nonstop Bboys/H.O.R. is now DJ Casanova, currently spinning at PURE, LAX & Christian Audigier Nightclubs and DJ Sumkid (H.O.R.) spins most of the major local Bboy competitions and Hippoe Clothing events.

People considered old school are still at it with Mr. Wiggles teaching local classes, DJ R.O.B. spinning at Rain in the Palms and Mr. Freeze hosting nights at Revolution Lounge in the Mirage, bringing in some legendary names in hip-hop. Check the Black Eyed Peas on the flier.

As hip-hop became more widely accepted in society, we grew with the times, making a living from our passions. Las Vegas is welcoming new residents daily, stirring into our ever-growing pot to keep the hip-hop scene alive and well.

Currently: The Bboy jam tradition is continued on by Vee, with his Vegas Shakedown series which attracts crews across statelines; the Bboy Pro-Am International Hip-Hop conference presented by Zulu Gremlin had a stop on their tour not too long ago; the first ever Ultimate Bboy Championships hosted by Mr. Freeze come to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in August; “MUS.I.C.” featuring the Jabbawockeez with special guest Super Crew is playing at the MGM; The Bridge Hip-Hop Radio is repping hard with streaming internet radio broadcasted direct from Vegas, playing Monday through Friday; The Case Of The Classicks at VBar in the Venetian is maintaining a place to groove and chill, with promoter by Jayar Tolentino at the helm, who is one of the masterminds behind Double Down Sounds which used to run the biggest parties in the city… and there’s a lot more. That’s what you get for a city that never sleeps.

Next time you come you might want to stay a little longer… Las Vegas. Hip-Hop is over here.