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Michael Holman, Hip Hop pioneer and Downtown artist/filmmaker who produce and directed the first Hip Hop film, “Catch Beat” in 1981, promoted the first Hip-Hop parties in Downtown Manhattan at a night club called "Negril." At a NYC Bow Wow Wow concert in September, 1982, Bow Wow Wow's manager and legendary impresario, Malcolm McLaren, hired Holman to put together a Hip Hop Review - consisting of DJ Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Jazzy Jay, MC Ikey C, graffiti artist Kel-1 and the Rock Steady Crew - to open for Bow Wow Wow. A few months later, Holman brought his Hip Hop Review to Negril, an East Village club on 2nd Ave. and 12th Street, as a way of introducing this new sub-culture to the Art World of Downtown New York City. On the opening night, Holman had Bambaataa and Jazzy Jay rock the dance floor, and featured the graffiti art of Rammellzee. Holman's close friend, legendary graffiti artist/pioneer Phase II created the flyers for these Hip Hop nights. Holman also screened "Catch A Beat" for background visual entertainment. Other MCs and DJs who graced the Negril stage included: DJ Kool Herc, DJ Whiz Kid, Fab Five Freddy, Futura 2000, Phase II, DJ High Priest and DJ Cool Dee. The featured breakdancers/B-Boys, and the true highlight of the night, were the Rock Steady Crew, whom Holman had acted as manager/agent for a year or so at that point. Wanting to see a real B-Boy battle, played out for a Downtown audience - something even Holman hadn't witnessed yet - Holman asked Crazy Legs, Rock Steady's leader, to find and invite another B-Boy crew to Negril for a real throwdown. Crazy Legs decided to invite the Floor Masters, a crew they had battled a few weeks before, at a hostile Jam in a High School in the Bronx. Ironically, the two battling crews had to join together, to fight their way out of the Jam when the crowd turned against both of them. This incident created a lasting friendship and respect between these dance crews. During the Negril Floormasters/RSC Battle, Holman was amazed by the newcomers' dancing abilities. Where the Rock Steady Crew dazzled the crowd with their dancing and rhythm, The Floor Masters wowed everyone, especially Holman, with their speed and power and athleticism. Inspired, Holman decided to create a new, all-star, super B-Boy crew, that specialized in power and speed, and build the crew with The Floor Masters as the foundation, and it was Phase II, with his genius for words, who came up with the name, The New York City Breakers.
Right away, Holman worked with Chino Lopez, the leader of The Floor Masters, and visionary himself, on finding and recruiting new members (as well as shedding old members of the Floor Masters who didn't have the power, speed and finesse Holman wanted) to build The New York City Breakers. Holman had previously known Lil' Lep, a head spin master, and he right away asked Lep to join the NYCBs. Soon after, Lep introduced Holman to his friend, Bobby Potts (AKA, Flip Rock), who's flips and footwork instantly put into the crew. At the same time, Chino told Holman about a one in a million dancer who would really make the crew a force to contend with, but Chino warned Holman that this dancer was wild. This mystery dancer turned out to be Tony Lopez (AKA Powerful Pexter) who was everything Chino promised as a dancer and more. With the Pexter's power moves extraordinaire (some credit Pex with being the greatest Old School B-Boy who ever rocked a floor), Lep's genius head spins and wicked foot work swipes, Chino's original and masters of neck moves, Noel Manguel's (AKA Kid Nice) unique head glides and Mathew Caban's (AKA Glide Master) unbelievable fist glides, Holman had the makings of an unstoppable, untoppable, B-Boy Crew, that he could take to world fame.
Not long after, Holman was introduced to a dancer who brought electric boogie, popping and locking skills to the NYCBs mix. His name is Tony Draughon (AKA Mr. Wave) and to this day his moves and body contortions seem unbelievable. Rounding out the crew was Corey Montalvo (AKA Icey Ice), who's air moves were stunning to witness. Now, all the pieces had fallen into place. Holman had his power crew, his all-star crew, and soon after, introduced B-Boying, and subsequently, Hip Hop Culture in general, to greater New York City, then the country, then the world.
The NYC Breakers started their careers' with a splash, appearing, not days after signing with Holman, on the nationally televised Merv Griffin Show. Soon after, the NYCBs began appearing on everything from "Soul Train", "Ripley's Believe It or Not!", "P.M. Magazine", "CBS Evening News", "Good Morning America", "Amnesty International Gala", "That's Incredible!", and "NBC's Salute to the Olympics" just to name a few."Sixteen Candles", "Beat Street", "The Freshest Kids", and are some of the noteworthy feature films they appeared in as well a cameo in "Body Rock".
The NYCBs appeared on the first ever Hip Hop TV show called "Graffiti Rock", created, produced and hosted by their manager, Michael Holman.And author of the book "Breaking and The New York City Breakers", that was to be published that fall in 1984 by Freundlich Books. He was America's leading exponent in Hip Hop Culture and a founding member of Hip Hop International Inc.And released an Album Break-Master Featuring New York City Breakers that went Gold with Posters and array of how to break steps and how hold a competition the first to have all this in one album. The NYCBs were the first ever Hip Hop group and/or artists to perform in Washington D.C for a sitting President, specifically Ronald Reagan, during the 1984, "Kennedy Center Honors."" The performance was broadcast nationally on CBS, and is considered a landmark for the acceptance of Hip Hop culture in America. While performing in tribute to legendary choreographer, and Kenndy Center Honoree Katherine Dunham at the Kennedy Center Honors, the NYCBs befriended Frank Sinatra, (also an Honoree that year) who was so impressed by the NYCBs, he hired them back to perform for the 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala, which Sinatra was the organizing Chairman.
Michael Holman and The New York City Breakers formed the first company Hip Hop International toured the world and performed for Presidents and royalty (England's Price Andrew and the King and Queen of Norway). As one of the first Hip Hop/B-Boy crews, they helped spread Hip Hop around the globe, and will always be remembered as crucial pioneers of Hip Hop Culture.
At the height of The NYCBs fame, sadly, Matthew Caban (Glide Master) died in a motorcycle accident.
The original NYCBs
edited by Michael Holman