Monday, January 3, 2011

Zen & The Art Of B-Boying

Photo by Travis Crosby - THEGRAREA.COM

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu 

Martell Stepney aka S.Grand Leroy aka Marty McFly,  a Saint Louis native who grew up on the Southside of St.Louis, can always be found at most Hip-hop events around town. Martell is B-Boy motivated by his love of the art form and is not looking for a quick trendy path to fame.

"Breakin'...I knew it was something I had to do"

When questioned on when he first started breakin’ Martell states that, “Officially 15, I always messed around with it when I was kid...when I first watched Breakin 2,  I knew it was something I had to do”. Further mentioning that one of his early inspirations was, “The way I made people feel when I danced..." However, an art form like B-boying is nothing that comes easy, “A few moves I caught onto quick, but over all everything took time and practice, practice, practice...", "I at least practice two times a week for around 90 minutes.” Further stating that, “My love for Hip Hop and my students”, has kept him motivated and inspired to keep at it.

Martell has put in plenty of time in the Saint Louis B-boy world. “When I first started I was in a outreach group called B-boy/B-girls of BABAA. BABAA stood for Blacks Assisting Blacks Against Aids. With the group I went to schools and events educating people on HIV/Aids. Currently, Martell is teaching at the, all Hip-Hop dance studio in Crestwood Mall called the “Hip Hop Foundation Fanatics” and doing performances around the city, battles in town and out of town, and helping to organizing B-boy events.

“A lot of times in competitions I try to stay cool and level headed. When I get too amped I lose focus.”

At most events you can usually spot Martell posted in the ‘cut’ humbly taking in the nights events. “I'm really just a laid-back cool guy so when go out I just like to chill out, listen to music and watch the crowd.” “A lot of times in competitions I try to stay cool and level headed. When I get too amped I lose focus.” However, when it comes to B-boying, Martell is going against any notions that being cool, calm, and collected, equals not being on the grind. Martell has a substantial list of performances within just the last year; which includes, “Slum Fest”,” Taste of St. Louis”, “Off the wall, at City Hall”, “Art, Beats, and Lyrics”, “Fresh Paint 1&2” and “Show Me Styles”. However Martell is quick to note that, “When I got into breakin’ I never thought I would make money from it, nor did I get into it to make money.”

Photo by Travis Crosby - THEGRAREA.COM

When asked about the roots of B-boying music and its future, Martell believes that  the "Breaks", such as Babe Ruth's "The Mexican" or Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache", will forever remain relevant despite whatever current music trends are circulating at the current moment. “I feel those songs will still get played in battles 20 years from now because they have that feel to it. You can't help but to break to it...Usually there always is a specific music for any genre of dance…However at a b-boy jam u will hear house, rap, funk, soul, RnB, rock, etc; but breaks will always get played.”

When asked what ‘WE ARE THE CITY’ means to him, Martell states, “I think ‘WE ARE THE CITY is a great idea. It will show people who live in or out of St. Louis that WE are out here doing something with our lives. Because a lot of people think no one is doing anything constructive in this city.”
With over 5 years of B-Boying and a heavyweight roster of projects in the past, the present, and the future there is no doubt that the ‘Grand Leroy’ will remain a permanent fixture in the Saint Louis Hip-Hop scene. In closing, Martell addresses any doubts that breakin’ is here to stay by simply saying, “As long as there is hip-hop events it will never die out.”

The "Grand Leroy Trailer"

Martell would like to send shout outs to - The Force, South St. Louis, St. Louis B-boys/b-girls, Hip-Hop Foundation Fanatics, Senior Fury, Junior Fury, Floor Gadgets, Arch Enemies, W.O.A., E.N.I., WU Cypher, and Midwest bboys/bgirls.

You can keep in touch and check out Martell’s latest work @ the sites below…