Krumping, the ghetto art, dance, and language of a new generation of urban defiance birthed from the notorious area of South Central Los Angeles, is the premise behind this summer’s grassroots-hyped trend in music’s hip-hop culture and film as captured in the documentary “Rize,” by David LaChapelle. Recently aired at the Los Angeles Film Festival, “Rize” is longer version of the short-doc “Krumped” which scored big at the Sundance Film Festival and made MTV consider setting up a reality show in downtown LA before director LaChappelle took them down.
“Rize” is an 84-minute documentary about the hip-hop driven competitive dance style that’s violent, raw, and reminiscent of African tribal dancing complete with dancers wearing clown or tribal make-up. “On the surface, this counterculture dance form is violent and hypercombative; it’s like watching a ballet performed atop a field of live grenades,” explains writer Ernest Hardy in his review in the LA Weekly. “It’s also a gritty new link in the cultural chain that stretches from breakdancing battles and the hip-hop cipher to the competitive balls and familial Houses of vogueing. Like its predecessors, krumping flowers from the shotgun marriages of poverty and race, imagination and ambition…”
Krumping’s roots can be found in clown dancing, which stemmed from Tommy the Clown—ex-convict, Thomas Johnson--who began performing in South-Central in 1992 at kids birthday parties. Now, Tommy the Clown is considered the godfather of the scene. “Rize” showcases a set of street dancers who through krumping speak of the positive energy and artistic expression of their lives despite the negativity of where they live.
In one of the most poignant moments of “Rize” are the cuts to footage of African tribal dancing and the similarities in movement and face-painted performers. At Label we’ve always tracked trends from the most core regions of trendsetting environments and as we’ve said, those with the least amount of economic resources often produce the most creative forms of expression—from art, music, and fashion (i.e., krumping’s Kenyan flag and reggae colors, industrial boots, camo, chains, face-paint…see also our North American Youth Culture Study 2005). Krumping is a part of the next wave with its mix of originality and style, combative energy, need, and sheer rawness. Such things produce the most eclectic styles, attitude, and expression.
If you can, check out “Rize.” On a side-note, MTV tried to jump on LaChappelle’s gig, but after considerable effort by LaChappelle and crew, was put back in their place from ripping off the scene. Instead, “Rize” hit the streets and will soon be showing at theatres near you, making krumping real and MTV’s “reality” show a non-reality.
Stay tuned for more updates from Label Networks on krumping and live reports from insider trends in our hometown of Los Angelesthis summer.