At Mumbai’s monthly hip-hop event Monster Battles Rap, where b-boys and emcees go head to head to win bragging rights for the night and throw around a few cyphers, few beyond the underground Indian indie scene’s even more niche community show up. Yet this past week, American b-boying star Jeeby G Rocker’s subtle attendance at the last battle held at The Hive in Bandra, managed to stir the crowd around him. Unassuming yet painfully talented 27-year-old Gregory Gabriel Lee, Jeeby is part of Rejects crew that won the 2013’s Mighty4 Anniversary Jam’s annual All Style Championship. Taking an inspirational break from USA (he is based in Santa Cruz, California), Lee has been touring South East Asia these past few months hobnobbing with b-boying crews across Vietnam and Thailand before he made his way to India. He will be taking part at the Radikal Forze 16th Anniversary Jam 2014 in Singapore in March. In the meantime, Lee is checking out the sights and sounds of Mumbai. He will be judging the upcoming Monster Battles B-Boy on January 27, 2022 at The Hive. We caught up with Lee in Bandra and spent an afternoon chatting with the artiste while he practiced his style head moves back at The Workshop at The Hive.
What brings you to India?
I think at the very base level it was the curiosity. I wanted to see what India was all about. I recently attended Vipassana (form of medidation) in Igatpuri that a friend of mine had recommended.
How did you get in b-boying?
I got into b-boying back when i was maybe 15 or 16. My brother bought a tape called “How to Break Dance” and we both started learning from it. It wasn’t until I turned 18 that I started grasping more complex moves of b-boying and slowly got more involved in this dance style.
Is it tough being a b-boy?
I started b-boying before there were tutorials on YouTube. We used to download videos from bboyworld.com. It started off with watching popular artists like b-boy Junior from France and b-boy Physicx from South Korea. I was really attracted towards the flashy moves they use to do. As I progressed into the dance form, it became more about the dance, expression, and the music. So I started off just like how other b-boys started, “You wanna hit the freeze or you wanna hit the power moves, you know looking cool on the floor.”
Where all are you travelling to in India?
I started my journey in India from Calcutta and then I travelled to Bangalore for a b-boy jam. From there I went to Kerala and now here I am in Mumbai. Couple of things I want to see are the Golden Temple in Amritsar and then head to Varanasi. While I’m here, I’d like to catch a Bollywood movie. (Laughs)
How was your experience at the b-boy jam held in Bangalore?
It was called CUL-TUR-ED judged by Salah. It was really great, b-boys from all over India had come down for the jam. The thing I was most blown away with was the All Styles dance battles. I didn’t expect India to have that type of skill level for all styles.
What do you have to say about the b-boying scene in Mumbai?
I met couple of b-boys from this crew Freak ‘N Stylz when I was in Bangalore. I have been practicing with the Beast Mode Crew. Big Shout out to b-boy Ninja, he has been taking me around to a lot of new places. I would say the only thing about b-boys in Mumbai or India in general is that I know the hip-hop and b-boying scene is new here and I want to see the Indian flavour come out, you know. A lot of b-boys have no originality and flavour in their dance, not just in India but worldwide. And because India is just starting out in hip-hop scene, I want to see a different style emerge from here incorporating the local culture. There is no set rule on how to dance in b-boying. It will be great in 10 years if I look at a dancer and I can say that’s a Mumbai style, that’s an Indian style. People watch a lot of b-boying videos on YouTube and try to copy the style. YouTube is a great resource to explore more videos but it doesn’t help you get creative. You lose originality.
What are you expecting from Indian b-boys at the upcoming Monster Battles B-Boy championship?
I am really excited. I have no idea what to expect. I don’t know if I’ll see seven guys or a packed room, but I am hoping to be rocked by the local b-boys.
What memories of India are you going to take back ?
India has been such a great country. Everyone has been so friendly and fantastic. Hopefully at this battle, I will have lot of memories to take back home.
- Register for the Monster Battles B-Boy championship to be held on January 27, 2022 from 5 pm to 8 pm at The Hive, Bandra. Take part or come check out the scene. Click here for more details.