BBoy YNOT Drops Knowledge and Lessons
On a warm summer Saturday in Toronto, Canada, YNOT, Vice President of Rock Steady Crew, dropped gems of knowledge regarding breaking and Hip Hop as a whole. Life experience, travel, education, and staying true to oneself were all explored.
Behind The Scenes
I took the 404 to the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto from the ‘burbs to the downtown core and parked illegally as is mostly the case when you’re parking downtown… and also… because rebel. Offloading my gear and heading into the ManifesTO office, I lugged my gear up the narrow steep steps and saw YNOT just chillin’ at the window-side desk, sketching away.
As I set up my gear, we chatted about the culture, finding confidence, and the importance of consistent and continual promotion from within the culture. It’s not like we were in a time crunch, but he’d be heading an In-Conversation session, as well as a top rock workshop, so I wanted to wrap up well beforehand.
- Warm & Comfortable
- 15:00 - 16:00
The camera started rolling and we dove right into it. Getting a glimpse into YNOT’s journey through Hip Hop gleaned a unique perspective because of the fact that he hopped around quite a bit in his youth:
“Getting the information from New York and also Philly, because I really bounced back and forth from both places, so I have a lot of different arrays of inspiration that came from different things; you know dance-wise, art-wise…”
This interview was shot entirely on the Canon EOS 60D looking through a Canon 24-105mm F4.0L, and a Sigma 30mm F1.4. Stability came in the form of the Manfrotto BHDV561-1 Fluid Head Video Monopod. Ambient sound was recorded directly in-camera with a RODE VideoMic, and interview audio was pulled in with a cheap Sony wired Lav plugged into a ZOOM H1.
YNOT’s roots are firmly planted in the east coast of the United States; bouncing around from New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia, he was exposed to the mecca of Hip Hop and its immediate peripheries, while also coming from a home with a deep appreciation for Jazz.
YNOT remembers being first introduced to Hip Hop in all its forms at an event called “Break Beats” held at The Point; the Hunts Point Community Center, where there were BBoys and BGirls, but also, Graff writers, MC’s, and DJ’s sharing and honing their crafts together in one space.
In Philly, “The Gathering” which takes place at a church hall called the Rotunda, is still going on today. It is, as YNOT says, “one of the longest running meeting places for Hip Hop…”.
It was Crazy Legs who first an interest in YNOT, took him under his wing, and played an integral role in mentoring him into the walking epitome of Hip Hop he’s known as today.
“What we tend to forget is that all this would not happen if we don’t recognize that we’re people, and even beyond that, this is FOR people.”
YNOT, a well-travelled person, has seen the true power of Hip Hop and the insurmountable positive effect it has on youth and entire communities. His travels to Uganda in 2008 was a genuinely life-changing experience which showed him the true beauty that Hip Hop projects.
- Born in New Jersey, USA
- Currently lives in Philadelphia, USA
- Started BBoying at age 17 in New Jersey
- Represents the Rock Steady Crew
“And then something like Hip Hop kind of shows up, and gives them this… this energy.”
You have got to watch this interview in full. You’ll learn a ton. Trust.
At the top of YNOT’s list for BBoys who inspired him, especially as he was coming up, are his mentors, Crazy Legs, Mr. Wiggles, Fable, and Poppin’ Pete, in terms of the dance. Being the well-rounded Hip Hop renaissance man, he also shouted out writers and musicians, including Keo from XMEN, Cy from TC5, and COPE in terms of graff writers, and EPMD, DJ Cash Money, and Grandmaster Caz in terms of the music.
YNOT made mention that in terms of new cats, there are countless points of inspiration for him, but he made special mention to the members of Skill Brat Renegades: Casper, Luigi, and Kid David.
“If you’re about doing this thing; Hip Hop, people will know you… you are who you are.”
This section of every episode is so important, because everyone we’ve interviewed has always made it a point to shout out those who are important to them, and who have helped them in their journeys. It’s inevitable though, that sometimes, in the middle of a run-and-gun interview, someone gets left out. Even moreso, when condensing a lot of interview footage into a 5-minute episode, the chance is even greater (and definitely my fault, as the editor). If you feel left out from this episode, and know you’ve played a crucial role, make sure you let YNOT know–real friends are straight up and let it be known–YNOT will let us know and we’ll be sure to credit you immediately.
Did You Know
YNOT is all about personal growth in order to support his passion of facilitating Hip Hop’s growth. He’s in the middle of completing his Master’s Degree, and also, teaches a University course on Hip Hop. His belief is that a course is the best way to truly immerse people in Hip Hop because it’s not just a workshop, or a one-hour in-conversation session, but rather, is a fully developed curriculum aimed at continuous engagement with young minds. Dude’s a thinker, and educator, and of course, #AlwaysAStudent.
“In the beginning I was like, I want to be the illest. Now I’m at a point where I’m like, YOU can be the illest.”
The In-Conversation session with YNOT was dope. If there’s ever an opportunity in your city to bounce ideas back and forth with him in an informal setting, jump on it. Definitely jump on it.
Cinematographer: Maurice Chang
Facilitator: Jon ‘Drops’ Reid of Supernaturalz Crew/founder of Making Moves