In order to be of value to the culture of Hip Hop, you have to put yourself out there. Be bold and authentic with your communication. Make lasting connections. This is how the encounter with Garryboo Yankson came to be. A young dancer from Paris, that would soon enough fall in the category of organizers. Our meeting occurred early on in 2012. It was the very first year I joined Step x Step Dance. He and his team were visiting WOD Holland. How to predict that this brother would turn his visions for Hip Hop into waking reality so quickly with relentless effort and passion? He is from the younger generation (being 25 years old), and has now established his own brand, event and even record company (music label).
Coincidentally, there is a little clip on SXSTV of Garry at Hotel de Ville in 2013, announcing his concept called Ready or Not. The same year Step x Step founder Clayton traveled to Paris for the first time. A time of great personal growth and opportunity. It’s beyond inspiring how both brands have grown since then. The journey of Ready or Not was beyond impressive. How it came to fruition, in actuality. RON definitely includes dance at the foundation but the goal is much bigger and entails the music too. It’s a more holistic approach to Hip Hop. One where Beatmaking, DJ-ing and Rap have their rightful place in the union. His independent music label has recently brought forth it’s first album called “All About #1 featuring French and American rappers in collaboration like She Real (Harlem- NYC) and Sloppy Joe (The Bronx-NYC).
Being familiar with some of Garry’s team prior to attending this RON final, I felt delighted to finally attend Ready Or Not. In June of 2016 I was honored to be a guest judge at another one of their projects called WAR battle. The group keeping everything on track consists of warm people with strong characters who share a bond and history. Individuals with a healthy and conscious street attitude.
Stepping into the battle venue on September 9th, I noticed something very encouraging right from the start. The famous Bataclan Theater looked like it was being operated by women for the occasion. Almost -all- production and video staff seemed to be female. An encouraging scenario that Miss Emilie Naucelle said, she manifested very intentionally.
The dance crews competing in the final were Invaders Crew, Xgen Crew, Under cover, Move and Art, SARCELLITE, Shinigami, Paradoxal, Ghetto Style. They brought intense fire and had a real conversation in the ring. Normally, I would shout out some of the artist out by name but this time it’s impossible. They all had it. How the judges Médine, Bruce Ykanji, DJ Stresh and Nodey came to a solid conclusion is a riddle because you could -legitimately – light a match on the floor after each round.
If you love dance- you worship music. That is why beat-making had to be incorporated in this concept. With that, I also love a good lyricist. Poetic undeniable flow that just gets under your skin and you find yourself growling a little to loud in public with your headphones. That’s what happened at Ready Or Not. Bagou hit the core at the speed of light, regardless of the French language. The rap battle between El Deterr and Aladoum got the crowd feeling it! A powerful exchange eventually won by the former. Then, a young gun stepped out on stage, to give a show. This talent by the name of Lo.Swing, was clearly wearing his heart on his sleeve (or his facial expressions) and pursued to lay it DOWN in English. The words connected and something profound came over me. The embodiment of his art & emotions had me feeling euphoric about witnessing this element in all it’s glory & rawness. What a privilege to feel at home, do what you love and simultaneously be so very inspired by this unexplored territory.
Now- after contemplating the lacking number of visitors, the question seemed to be: Is Bataclan tainted by it’s recent tragic history? Meaning, is there a general decrease in visitors or do we as a Hip Hop community need to back our own generation and simply show up? The PR and marketing of Ready or Not was on point. The French scene and even other surrounding countries have undoubtedly seen/ heard about the 2017 upgraded edition.
[#RONFINAL2017 – Recap 🎥]Quand le Hip Hop originel réinvestit le Bataclan 👇👇👇
Posted by Ready Or Not – RON on Monday, September 18, 2017
Consider this. It is not rewarding for any of us to have a separate mindset. Don’t be an artist that steps in when you need to perform/ battle and disappear before anyone can slip you a -thank you- for coming. We are here as a collective to overcome, to transform ourselves, to cause real change. If you do attend an event, why call it a night before receiving that explosive feeling in your solar plexus that says: “Yes, that’s ******* right! We did that. Thank you for a fun-filled, fulfilled day!” Being present and grateful is the key to everything. To build lasting projects together, to make moves- we have to show and up stick around for ourselves and each other.
Being in this scene from early 2012, I encounter my fair share of organizers and promoters from around the world. Some are great, true visionaries & facilitators. Others proof themselves unfit to be in the people-business. Therefore they can’t appreciate the time, energy and sincere enthusiasm that Step x Step holds for the game. This applies to many artists as well. Sometimes you will learn the hard way were your energy and effort is needed and wanted. Look around and utilize your experience, your intuition to avoid the places where you are merely tolerated or even mis-used for your talent. Embrace the places where you are truly seen, celebrated and growth is possible. This is one of the many reasons SXSTV will return to Ready or Not, should it grace the scene again in 2018.
In retrospect of all of this, what I do dare to predict now, is that Garry will be a mogul in the future. If not as an ambassador of Hip Hop, as an example of being a kind man, un homme gentile as they say. Of being a great father. Of being a positive role model for his community and anyone he comes into contact with. The latter has proved by many to be harder to reach in the end, anyway.
Ready or Not has a strong vision of uniting the music and dance. By being authentic and staying true to that it attracted the attention of the older generation. Since it’s inception it has been backed by people like Medine, Playmo, Bruce Ykanji and Nasty. These gentelemen see it for what it is and can be in the future. They support it. What about you? Together we stand. Divided we fall.
Fight for real Hip Hop. Are you Ready, or Not?
Winner Crew Battle: GhettoStyle
Winner Rap: El Deterr
Winner Beatmaking: Walkman
Founder Garryboo Yankson -Associate Toufik El Ksiri