Featured Promoter, Dancer and all-around Contributor to the Hip Hop Community
Paul Vincent Ruma, aka Paulskee, has made a valuable mark on Hip Hop history, both as a student and an innovator. Ruma was the president of the well-respected Rock Force Crew from 1994 to 2004. Although Paul is retired as the President now, their major accomplishments include winning first place at the Battle of the Year World Championship in ’98 and runners up in ’99, (the only U.S. crew ever invited more than once, and the last U.S. B-boy crew to win the world championship since 1998). Rock Force has also won practically ever major event held across the USA / World.
Since 1998, Ruma has been the owner of the yearly b-boy jam, Mighty 4, and in 2000, he became the co-owner of the first ever U.S. b-boy/girl crew championship, Out for Fame. Paulskee’s contributions to Hip Hop are not only inspiring, but also well-researched. His jams have provided places for dancers to express themselves creatively and competitively. Read further to find out about these events, what inspires him, and what he thinks about Hip Hop in the media.
“Nowadays my event overheads run well into the 15-20 grand range…”
OC: State you name.
Paulskee: My name is Paul Vincent Ruma, but peeps usually
just call me Paul, or Paulskee.
OC: How and when did you first get involved in the Hip Hop scene?
Paulskee: In the early to mid 80′s I was around my older cousins who were into breakin’, DJin’, and rappin’. I was the annoying little kid trying to hang out with them. In the early 90s they were still into it and I was still trying to hang around them. Later on, when I fully researched things, I found out it was called Hip Hop culture, something that had been in me since birth, and more than likely, will be with me ˜til my passing day.
When I learned about the Internet in ’94 I spent days cutting class to print up articles about Hip Hop culture and history. I put them all into one huge book and used up all the school’s paper. That is also how I found out about the Universal Zulu Nation. Their teachings made me want to preserve and spread true Hip Hop culture to people all over the world. I ended up flunking high school because of my huge interest in Hip-Hop / Breaking. That early failure in life led me to where I stand today in the Hip Hop scene, all though looking back, I wish I would have had both the street smarts, and books smarts combined. But I wouldnt change a thing if I had to live my life all over again. Just gotta take it in stride and further my education.
“I was able to take kids off the street for five hours that night to celebrate Hip Hop culture, it’s all worth it to me…”
OC: When did you first start throwing jams? Tell us what your first jam was like. How did it compare to what you’re doing now?
Paulskee: I threw my first event in March of 1998. It was a DJ Showcase called Tableturns which came from NYC by Sugarcuts and Rocky. I was heavily into DJing and turntabling and had the connections with the right people to start the show, so I ran with it. I understand turntablism and appreciate its beauty, just like any other element of Hip Hop. It was a dope line-up. Anyone who was anybody was there. I could run down a long list of peeps but you get the picture, the bay at that time was the scratch capital of the world. I had peeps showcase there before they blew up—it was inspiring. I lost like $300 that night, but gained a lot of credibility in the DJ scene, and I don’t even consider myself a DJ, just a student to the art. I owe thanks to the twins Rob and Ron, Derrick D., Shortkut, Mike Boogie, Eric T, R4C, KMOS, and UZN Daly CITY, Tri City chapters, and my friends for helping and hustling to get the event off.
Things were cheaper back then. People didn’t charge as outrageously as they do now. A lot more work is involved with Mighty 4 and the Out for Fame U.S. Championship. Nowadays my event overheads run well into the 15-20 grand range, and like my first jam, I still have to hustle ends to make shit happen ‘cause sponsorship isn’t that great here in the U.S. Things are finally looking up again though, because of the commercial boom of b-boyin’.
OC: What kind of preparation goes into planning Mighty 4?
Paulskee: About a good six months of brainstorming and scheming. I’m still a student to promoting, even though I’ve been doing it for 6 years. Nothing ever goes perfectly, no matter how hard you try. That’s the life of a promoter, you gamble and risk. For me though, if people go home happy, and I was able to take kids off the street for five hours that night to celebrate Hip Hop culture, it’s all worth it to me—even if I lose money on the show (and I have lost thousands before).
OC: You’re so busy. Tell us what an average day for you is like?
Paulskee: Well I work full-time now, but my shifts are long, so I get a lot of days off during the month. The workforce is new to me ‘cause I haven’t really worked a steady job since ’97. It was definitely hard to hang the first few months. I like to spend my time off with my son, or in the garage dancing up a storm, or just working on Mighty 4 or the Out For Fame U.S. Championship. I’m constantly online, so I’m always up to date with what’s going on in the scene.
OC: What is your largest accomplishment?
Paulskee: I can list a lot of things dealing with breakin’ and Hip-Hop, but to me my largest accomplishment is finding my spirituality as a father. I’m proud of all the other stuff, but they don’t even come close to that revelation in my life.
OC: What has been your largest contribution to the Hip Hop scene?
Paulskee: Just being a student to Hip Hop culture.
OC: If you were to do one thing over again, what would it be?
Paulskee: I would always listen when someone said that everything
happens for a reason…I just understood the meaning behind that, so in all honesty, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d take the negative things in my life and figure out how to make them positive for the future, as I am doing now.
“I know if I wasn’t trying to excel in Hip Hop culture I’d be into some foul shit…”
OC: Who inspires you and why?
Paulskee: Depends on what we’re talking about. In dance, it’s the music; in events, it’s the promoters of the past who have laid the ground work; in life it’s my son Paulskee Jr.; in spirituality, it’s the good friends that I have.
OC: How do you feel about the way the b-boy scene has evolved over the years? What are the good and bad aspects?
Paulskee: I love it. I just wish more kids would actually be more into studying its history and understanding its roots. When you study the past, it sets your future, and that goes for all things in life.
OC: What is one thing you would like to see change
in the scene? What is your largest criticism?
Paulskee: Old politics that keep recycling. There’s too much of it, especially in the b-boy scene, and it’s not worth the stress. There is little to no serious money to be made from the game and peeps are still back stabbin’ peeps, or just being dumb about shit. People just need to do their own thing without having to climb the ladder by insulting or using kats. But hey, that’s life. In the end, it’s between you and God.
I just wish people would be a little less serious about making it by breakin’ alone, ‘cause even I was on a negative tip like that for years. It’s not really worth it. Find other hustles or, better yet, a job to keep the cash flow steady.
“A battle I would like to see would be me versus Crazylegs in a top rock battle in the Boogie Down Bronx which will be goin’ down soon.”
OC: What do you think about Hip Hop’s current state in the media right now?
Paulskee: I’ve seen a little bit of recognition, the VH1 thing was ill. But, as far as the rest goes, sex, drugs, money, and guns are the current state of Hip Hop in the media…rap, actually, it’s just rap that’s twisting shit. The media confuses rap for all Hip Hop culture.
OC: Do you think the Hip Hop arts are positive outlets of expression for the youth? How?
Paulskee: Yeah. I know if I wasn’t trying to excel in Hip Hop culture I’d be into some foul shit, along with the rest of my peeps who are caught in the struggle. Getting into Hip Hop arts takes a lot of time and can keep you off the street. Granted, peeps are gonna do what they’re gonna do, but it still keeps one occupied.
OC: Favorite battle you’ve seen? A battle you would
like to see?
Paulskee: Anything with my crew and anything with early Rocksteady Crew (80s to mid-90s). A battle I would like to see would be me versus Crazylegs in a top rock battle in the Boogie Down Bronx which will be goin’ down soon.
“I’ve changed my life and resurrected a new person this year and my event will reflect that.”
OC: What would you like to see more of in the Bay Area’s Hip Hop scene?
Paulskee: Promoters actually putting out events that people will enjoy, getting kids to want to learn about Hip Hop history, and inspiring type of events.
OC: How’s this year going to differ from the years before? What should people be expecting from you?
Paulskee: People will feel the resurrection of Mighty 4. I’ve changed my life and resurrected a new person this year and my event will reflect that. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll tell you one thing, I will do my best to make even the non-Hip Hop enthusiasts enjoy the show. I want a guy and a girl to be able to groove together on the floor, vibe out and have fun—a real Hip Hop jam.
OC: What projects will the people see from you in the near future?
Paulskee: Catch me performin’ all over the U.S. and the world. The Out for Fame US Championship is also around the corner for all you crews in the U.S. It’s gonna be a good year, more importantly, this is the year of the cypher. Look forward to an event I’m putting out called Rhythm Defined, focusing on cypher-like arts. Shout out to all promoters working on shows like that. Oh yeah, and be on the look out for the Rock Force Crew in 2005. It’s gonna be very interesting.
OC: Last words?
Paulskee: The truth shall set you free.
Paulskee: Yeah, just out to my baby Paulskee Jr. One day you can
read this and know how much your dad truly loves you.
P.S. Thank you Shelley and onecypher.com. I look forward to groovin’ with you one day in the cypher. No pun intended.