One Cypher is proud to interview the Animated Beat Mechanics as One Cypher’s Featured Dance Crew. The Animated Beat Mechanics formed in 1998 and consisted of three poppers from the Midwest. Now they’ve expanded to six members from all over the United States. J Rock, Popula, Funktion, Pandora, Dementia are currently the active members repin’ the ABM in circles. All who have learned and trained from some of the best dancers in the world, now continue to share their craft and teach others the foundation of Hip Hop dance. These incredible individuals are amazing, and have been seen worldwide at many Hip Hop dance functions. They’ve won numerous awards, thrown down in countless circles, and still remain humble and continue to give back to the dance community. They’re funky style, and precision on stage is off the hook, and if you ever have the chance to catch this crew on stage-Don’t miss out.
“It kept me away from drugs and constant drinking..”
One Cypher: Who established the ABM? When?
J Rock: The crew formed in 1997. Either 97’ or 98’ we decided we were sick of rolling around with a large group of b-boys. They were all really good friends, but because we didn’t listen to the same music or practice the same it didn’t work. So we formed a poppin crew on the side. It was kind of a joint effort between me and Pringlz and Bishop Don, who at that time was in the crew as well. We were local poppers and I came up with the name Animated Beat Mechanics, because I thought it was a cool sounding name. It was a long name so we just shortened it to ABM. We added members and lost a
few members as we stayed with it.
One Cypher: Who are the members in ABM?
J Rock: Well now it’s turned into a crew, who still has the same mentality as far as being a poppin only crew, it’s the only style we do, but we have it broken down under the funk styles. There’s a lot of styles other than poppin so all of us don’t really dance the same, but it’s all similar as far as being part of the funk style dancing and the West Coast dancing. Right now we have six members total-three people in the West Coast, and two in the Midwest and one on the East Coast. We would just meet up at events and make friends with people, and it wasn’t like “he’s dope…lets just put him in the crew.” It was more or less becoming friends with someone who’s not in the crew and vibing with them- and wanting to put them in the crew so that we could perform with them.
One Cypher: Where are you all from?
J Rock: I was living in Nashville Tennessee. She was living in Kentucky, which was about two hours away. The scene wasn’t very big out there. To find a good dancer, you sometimes had to travel two hours out of your way. There were events that were really small, but if it was within a three hour driving distance…everyone would go. That’s how we met and networked, and there weren’t many poppers out there. I met her and that’s how it happened, I think we helped the scene out there as far as poppers and helped other people get going, but there wasn’t much room to grow. It kind of hit the ceiling fast out there.
One Cypher: Who has inspired you and your crew?
J-Rock: Each member has his or her own answer to that question. In the beginning our crew was led with information and techniques and supported by the Electric Boogaloos, but also by dancers on the West Coast. Pandora was learning from multiple sources like Slick Dog, Poppin Taco, Flat Top, Poppin Andre and the list goes on. There were a lot of people who helped us get better. They showed us what it was like in the 70’s and early 80’s. On the East Coast, Jazzy J had a big influence on his dance. Specifically out of the Electric Boogaloos, you had Poppin Pete, Skeeter Rabbit, Suga Pop, Boogaloo Sam, Mr. Wiggles. There were so many that we’d run into, and when we would watch them dance, we’d realize they had something that we didn’t have. They had that original way of dancing. It’s just like if a b-boy ran into Ken Swift and for some reason didn’t recognize him… and if they saw him dance… they would know something about his dance was original.
One Cypher: How long have you been dancing?
People would say, “look at that white boy get down!”
J Rock: I’ve been dancing for about ten years now. I got into poppin and training hard core about five years ago. I started out club dancing and b-boying for a little while, which later led to my interest in house dancing. But once I saw poppin done on a high level, it was on Jam on the Groove, it was Wiggles and Fable just getting down on stage. And I was like “that’s the dance for me.” And ever since then it’s been popping. I’ve been dancing for a total of ten years.
One Cypher: What age did you start dancing?
J Rock: I was fifteen. I was in High School. There was an all age dance club called Ground Zeroh in Nashville and it was run by a Christian organization. They didn’t try to shove religion down your throat, but they gave young people a positive place to come dance. And they structured it just like a nightclub, on the weekends from 9 to midnight. I guess they couldn’t have people out past midnight. We all went there because you got to see girls and stuff, but somewhere along the line I got really into dancing. I used to do half time with the steppers at games in High School. I would incorporate what I was doing at the club. People would say, “look at that white boy get down!” In Nashville, steppings big, but it was usually big in the African American schools. We would go and compete, and although our school was known to be diverse, our stepping crew wasn’t. I was like the only white boy on the team–I was like their secret weapon. They would have me bust out of a coffin or a box and the whole crowd would start laughing, because there was a white boy in the box. And then they would see me dance and they’d be like “OHH …he can dance” I was like their mascot.
“Reach one and teach one. Grab someone and teach them what you know before you move on to do something else. ”
One Cypher: What are some of the ABM past performances?
J Rock: The negative part about being spread out is that it’s hard to get everyone together as a group to perform. We did the Hip Hop Dance Awards this past November, and that was the first time we came together and choreographed a routine. Each person had his or her own input, and we had music produced by Slick Dog. We did okay, we could of always done better, but for the amount of time that was put in–we did good. We had two or three days to rehearse, and go over the choreography. With everyone being from out of state it was hard to rehearse. Like I said, Slick Dog did the music-he’s the new hottest underground funk beat producer. To me that was the best performance. It showed that we could do it even though we’re out of state, and it structured the formula for us to do future events. We look forward to other events we’re doing. Competitions, shows and performances.
“I just wish that when I see a group of people on a video who are poppin, they use actual poppers and not jazz dancers trying to pop.”
Shelley: If you had to choose between choreography and freestyle, you would choose freestyle, right?
J Rock: I would definitely choose freestyle. I do think show is important. I think dancing in circles are the best way to grow as an individual dancer and to really express yourself. I think poppin shines a lot when it’s on stage. There’s a lot of thought brought into it. And when you go and sit down and watch and you respect the dancers who are on stage, you think “wow these dancers are awesome.” You know that A: when they do a solo and freestyle, they’ll be giving it their all. They’re be telling a story. To me that’s when it’s at it’s highest level. Somehow incorporating the choreography and freestyle into a show is overall the best goal any group can have.
“I want the best talent in the United States to be seen.”
One Cypher: What are the goals of the ABM?
J Rock: I know that each dancer has their own individual goal and what they want to do, and I think that’s great because I think each one person can make such a big impact in the dance scene. As a group what we want to do is to show longevity. We want to stick together as a group and continue to influence younger people who want to learn the dance. We want to continue trying to inspire people, and grow together, because we’ve helped each other grow so much. A lot of people you meet in life are fickle, you’ll meet people and you’ll be cool with them for awhile but they’ll move on with their lives, but that’s the one thing about our crew, we can always count on each other to be there. Call each other for advice and there’s no agenda underneath. They’re not trying to hold back information because they’re trying to be better than you. It’s like a family and we’re just trying to see everyone in our crew get to that level. Each person has this picture in their mind of where they wan to be in dance. I just want to see each person in that group get there, and if we could do it as a team that would be even better.
One Cypher: If I were to break into your car and look at the 7 disc CD changer, whose music would I find?
J Rock: Slick Dog’s newest mix CD, that guys got crazy beats. Zapp and Rogers greatest hits, and the George Clinton mix CD. Who else would I have in there? Maybe some Maxwell or some Outkast. Some old Outkast at that. Anything funky. The CD’s wouldn’t last long, I’d probably switch them out at the end of the day.
One Cypher: What would you like to see change in the dance scene?
J Rock: I would like to see the underground dance scene grow more. I would like to see more authenticity in the mainstream dance scene. I respect a lot of the choreographers in the dance scene, they’re putting a lot of hard work in, but I’m really disappointed in some of the ways they use watered down versions of street dancing. That doesn’t go for all choreographers. I just wish that when I see a group of people on a video who are doing poppin, they use actual poppers and not jazz dancers trying to pop. I respect all trained dancers out there. But stick to your craft. I mean…you don’t see me training a jazz group. I want to see real poppers, poppers who are recognized. It’s slowly happening but not at the rate that it should. It’s very political. I would like to see the dance scene change in that …quote me on this “I want the best talent in the United States to be seen.” If you go to places such as Japan, you’ll see the best talent. The MTV in Japan, has a dance show and it’s not Wade Robson teaching. If it happened in Japan, it would be Poppin Pete’s show, Crazy Legs or Ken Swift…not Wade Robson. They would have the real deal. People in Japan know what’s up, they have the real deal people who created the dance and they’re students running things. They’re mainstream choreography is killing ours, and you know why? They know how to lock. You know who’s teaching them how to lock? It’s Greg Campbellock Jr. Here it’s not that way, it’s Wade Robson teaching kids how to pop. I want to see the best talent put on stage and videos. It’s not about making money. It’s art, why wouldn’t you want anything less?
“Hip Hop is a culture that teaches kids and people to be artistic. ”
One Cypher: Have you trained outside the country? How would you compare dance styles?
J Rock: No just here, that’s why I moved to California. I wanted to get closer to all the original dancers on the West Coast. A lot of the hard core dancers are in Vegas. I wanted to be out here in Los Angeles, within driving distance of the dance scene. Most of my hard core training came from flying out here, and then I started to teach people back home what I was learning. I was doing that once every month, but I wanted that everyday. People from France and Japan do the same thing. So I feel good living here. Everyone’s coming to town to learn and I felt this is where it’s at, so I’m glad to be here.
One Cypher: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
J Rock: Hopefully still a group. Individually we have so much freedom, we might become teachers or choreographers/performers, we might all live together eventually like a Real World house, or put together a show. It would be my goal to find a venue that we could perform at on a regular basis. I hope we can lean that way even if we stay separate, as long as we’re still a crew, teaming up and having fun. That’s perfectly fine with me. Hopefully we’ll just be a lot better at what we do.
One Cypher: What music inspires the group?
J Rock: Everything funky. From Electro, to G Funk, to hard core Old Skool, Zapp and Rogers stuff. We can get into anything with a beat. We’re really very versatile. We’ll dance to anything that’s danceable. I think that poppin is versatile enough to get down to Hip Hop, House, Funk–all kinds of stuff.
“We don’t really have one specific style of music. If we hear something we’ll be like “whoa” what is that? Ooohhh man..that songs hard!” A lot of dancers have that in common, we don’t really stick to one thing…it’s pretty much “what is that–turn it up!”
One Cypher: Being a product of Hip Hop, what do you think Hip Hop can do for the youth?
J Rock: I think that it really sucks how the media makes having money or being a baller symbolize Hip Hop. The real Hip Hop heads that I know are very spiritual and positive people. Hip Hop is a culture that teaches kids and people to be artistic. That’s the best thing. It has it’s own painting and art, and its own visual from graffiti artists, its got its own music its own dance and spoken word. It’s not just free for all, but it has its own structure and tradition and foundation from each element. To me it’s one of the strongest cultures in the United States, and I don’t know why people wouldn’t know about it. What other cultures can you think of, united urban people of all races together. It didn’t start out that way, but where it is now…it’s about everyone getting together and being positive. I think that should be taught everywhere. At least provided to kids as an outlet. There’s nothing more positive than dancing.
One Cypher: What has Hip Hop done for you and what does it mean to you?
J Rock: It’s given me a way to express myself. I’ve always been into art my whole life. My entire family consists of artists. To me it gave me another way to express myself. There’s so many emotions people feel everyday. If you’re mad-you can dance mad. You can get some hard music and dance hard. If you’re happy-you can dance happy. It gave me an emotional outlet. It gave me ways to meet other people. There’s been so many positive things I’ve gained from it. It kept me away from drugs and constant drinking. It’s not that I’m totally against that either, it’s just that I don’t have time for it. I’m dancing all the time. Hanging out and doing things that if I were drunk I couldn’t do. I’d probably twist my ankle or something. To me it’s given me a healthier lifestyle.
One Cypher: How should people get a hold of you?
J Rock: E-mail me at email@example.com. There’s also info on OneCypher.Com, as to how to contact us individually since we are all spread out. Get one of those email addresses. www.animatedbeatmechanics.com. It’s a coming soon site. We’ll eventually get that up and get some clips going.
One Cypher: Give some Shout-Outs…
J Rock: OneCYpher.Com for coming to Jreezie’s crib, the entire ABM crew that wasn’t here to do the interview, but they’re in my heart, Pandora, Funktion, PopNTodd, Popula, Dementia. I want to give a shout to all the OG’s out there. Not just some of them–all of them. No matter what your skill level is today, we respect what you put you down before we came. And we’re always going to respect that. Just put it out there. Reach one and teach one. Grab someone and teach them what you know before you move on to do something else. Tell someone before you get all wrinkled and can’t do it. Shout out to teachers out there, EB people in the bay Pop Tart, East Coast, Jazzy J. There’s to many to name, but they know who they are. All the OG’S. We appreciate you! All the new schoolers out there, dancers out there, to many to name. I see you all the time, we appreciate you. Keep working hard and contributing. Just remember “there’s always someone underneath you who doesn’t know as much as you, grab them and show them something.” They’ll eventually be where you are now and then they’ll show someone what they know. Just make the chain bigger. Other than that… PEACE!