Where the media has a tendency to conflate hip hop dancing and breaking, the 2002 documentary on bboying, “The Freshest Kids,” stands out for being an accurate representation of bboying history and hip hop culture. Previously, I wrote on how the media has altered bboying culture through its popularization and later falling out of public favor. Here, the documentary brings up the same points, but speaks more on the evolution of breaking into a sport and how it retains its counter-culture status.
By relying mainly on real bboys’ accounts of the scene, “The Freshest Kids” maintains its accurate representation of bboying. DJ Kool Herc is acknowledged as the first DJ to utilize the break in a song for music at parties, and how bboying evolved alongside the music from there. The mechanic of breaking’s reduction of violence is explained, in giving some kids an outlet that would also tire them out beyond being able to fight, and in giving gangs a nonviolent way of deciding things. The documentary also brings up the popular fight-dance capoiera as a parallel to breeaking, which had also been used as a fight-dance, except in America.
Breaking’s resurgence as a sport has certainly changed the culture around it, as media popularity spread the idea and style throughout the world. Each area developed its own way of breaking, often focusing more on steps, flow, rotations, or other things. As time goes on, the documentary brings up the competitive form that it took on. Bboying entered a state of competition, sport, and expression that had lost its “gangster” edge. Some bboys remark on the difference between those who call breaking “bboying” versus “breakdance,” and the general stratification between an OG or someone who caught on to it as a fad. They point out how even its continuous use by the media has put the term “breakdance” in their head, and how they find themselves calling it that from its saturation.
The documentary was a breath of fresh air, as it also incorporated information on the hip hop scene in general, from particular crews to the hip hop style of the west coast. Bboys also got to voice their thoughts on the commoditization of bboying and how they’re often placed in the background of popular hip hop videos without receiving true focus. The points brought up on how popularization and public perception can alter a sport still hold true today. One of the most popular gatherings for bboys is the Redbull BC One competition, a tournament organized and held by the Redbull energy drink company.