Undisputed, what can I say…
Yes, I was there standing in the cold waiting for the doors to open. Yes, I was there trying to see the battles, but barely could. Yes, I was there wondering if things could have been better on the Saturday? But, I was also there on the Friday, at the Forbidden Spot; A place where the walls were literally covered in sprayed creativity, a mess of paint and graffiti so inspiring I felt like I was in the hip hop land of Oz.
Fresh cuts were going down in the corner as my boy, Spin the Barber, shaped all customers up.
Fresh Legit gear and Undisputed clothing were sold by the friendliest, dopiest Czech ladies in the place, who greeted everyone with a smile, and encouraged hesitant buyers to try on whatever caught their eye.
Footwork cyphers popped off next door, an energy I realise I haven’t felt in over a year, with many competitions having scraped footwork battles. As a lover of the style of the feet, and a proud footwork Cat, I was more than thankful to see the Legits bring this battle back!
I was there, outside the spot, gathered in circles of friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. Friends who came not because they were fired up to compete and win, but because they wanted to come and vibe, and dance, and chill, and drink, and smoke, and be a part of the community which raised them.
I was there, in the middle of the road, honored to be asked my thoughts on this culture and scene, by my Belgium brother, who captured it all through his lens, taking sips of beer in between takes.
Once again the yellow brick road that is this culture and community that I am a part of, showed me a place where hip hop lived in Prague, and I was grateful to have fallen down that rabbit hole and experience a spot that is only forbidden in name.
I was there on the Saturday, exploring the city of Prague before the competition. Wrapped in layers to armor against the cold, discovering a place I’d only been to once before and this time wanted to know a little better.
I saw the city’s veins pulse with life from the high point where Stalin used to live. I rid in its trams, walked in its snow, and learned its history and stories from a native guide with which I always vibe.
I was there in the crazy moss pit of fellow UK heads going off to the grime tracks DJ Renegade span at the Saturday after party. Jumping, shouting, watching the wide-eyed, open mouthed, expressions of those not used to that UK grime inspired madness! The dance floor got ‘shut down!’ And no one cared, or complained any longer about the wait to get in, earlier.
I was there till the end of the party at 4:30am, went to bed at 6am, got up at 9:30am, hit breakfast, showered and was back at the mall for the crew battle by 12pm. Yup, I was there, on Sunday, on barely any sleep, a part of the breakers and circles that took over the ground floor mall space, on the last day of the week, and the last day of the Legit Blast Undisputed 3 day weekend.
I saw store workers standing in their doorways, trying to catch a glimpse of the dance action, but unable to leave the boundary of their shop until work was over. I watched Sunday shoppers navigate around spinning legs and erratically moving bodies. I felt the energy of people watching from all around the stage, and from up on the first and second floors.
I was there at the last Sunday evening after party, where those still around and ready to get down continued to party to the vibes the DJs span out. Promoters finally able to relax and drink a little. Everyone chatting and taking crazy pictures, destined to appear on Instagram pages, Facebook feeds and Snap chat stories
I was there back at the hotel, at about 4am in the morning, watching the new Undisputed champion, Thesis, play football against Kid Columbia, with a massive ball of paper and tape they found, kicking it back and forth, trying to score by getting it passed each other. I watched these two high level bboys smile and just have fun in a simple game, kicking this random massive of paper, and I was reminded of being a child, when me and my friends would play football with a empty can, no cares in the world, just having fun with a piece of random, kick-able trash. Bboys may grow older but we never truly grow up, but who the hell actually wants to?!
I was there, in Prague, at Undisputed, and looking back, thinking of it, I realise that all the moments I remember from the weekend have nothing to do with the competition, but that’s because I stopped travelling just for competitions. I travel because I have friends I want to see, places I want to explore, a culture I am, and want to continue to be, a part of. I travel for, ‘that Vibe.’
This scene is growing, competitions and expectations are getting bigger, but for me all of that is just side dressing. It’s the effort that goes into making it an experience that is the main meal for me. And I always remind myself why I am at that competition; not just to go, but to truly, and fully, Be There!
Try it. Look back and remember. Put the competition at Undisputed aside, or, if you weren’t at Undisputed, think about the last competition you were at. Look back, remember it, and now ask yourself, competition aside, if you still had a good time? If you still felt a part of that family that is Hip Hop? I know I did.
I feel it every time I hit a Legit, or other, event. I feel it from MG, MK, Tyrone, Mario, Thomas, Cros, Hooch, Storm and everyone, when they stop, smile and say, ‘what’s up?’ Even though as promoters and judges, they are busy, and don’t have to. I feel it from the new people I meet, and the friends I get to see again.
If you are looking back and remembering and don’t believe that you had a truly memorable experience outside of the competition, then next time come join us in the UK moss pit and try to survive the grimy madness! Come chat with us outside, come get your hair cut by my boy Spin. Join us in the cypher, explore the city, start a football game with a random object, interview someone, meet someone new, take some crazy pictures, party till 5am, go to bed at 6am, get up at 9:30am, rub the sleep from your eyes, and still enter the jam and get down because that’s what we do!!
In the Forbidden Spot there was a message written on the wall that read:
‘My life is better than your holiday.’
Through the crazy dope lifestyle that is hip hop I know I’m constantly living a life better than most people’s holidays. But I also know that, that life wouldn’t be possible without promoters, and lovers of this culture, putting on parties, jams, competitions and events for us to come and vibe at. And for that I am grateful!
Undisputed, 2017, I was there! And I am glad I was!
Bboy Manny (Soul Mavericks crew)