“The Breaks” Is Returning For Another Season And Moving To A New Channel
This month, The Breaks aired its first season as an episodic show. Set at the top of the 1990s, the series follows the lives and movements of several young people trying to make it in the music industry. From DJ/producers, aspiring record execs, to radio, the show created by author Dan Charnas and Seith Mann has some heavy Hip-Hop hitters in its ensemble as well. Method Man, T.I., Phonte, DJ Premier, and others have all worked on the vehicle that began at the top of 2016 as a made-for-television film, before expanding.
It has now been announced that The Breaks has been picked up for yet another season. DJ Premier, who handles the music supervision and further production on the show made the announcement today (April 28). Additionally, Preemo confirms that The Breaks will be moving networks from Vh1 to BET for its next block of episodes:
Earlier this week, Ambrosia For Heads spoke with DJ Rob Swift. In one episode of the most recent season of the show, the founding member of The X-Ecutioners (fka the X-Men) DJ crew consulted with the cast to recreate a real-life early ’90s DJ battle. Beyond simply coaching and instructing actors in the basics of those battles, Rob Swift worked to recreate an actual routine used by his late band-mate and close friend, Roc Raida after another DJ battle set was blocked due to permissions:
“While [The Breaks is] a fictional story, a lot of the instances that take place in the series were scenarios that really went down. [Dan Charnas created] this fictional story around these scenarios, which is cool,” said the DJ/producer/instructor born Robert Aguilar. “The 1990 New Music Seminar [DJ] battle is a perfect example. I was actually there; that was the first battle that I ever attended in-person. I got to see and witness Steve Dee pull out these groundbreaking routines that up until then, DJs just weren’t thinking about doing.” The Harlem, New York DJ and Get Fresh Crew affiliate is credited with pioneering “beat-juggling,” a display that was instrumental to his 1990 win. “Somehow he tapped into a part of his creativity that helped him unleash a different approach to DJ’ing. [He was] actually manipulating the music, almost is if he was a human sampler [like an Emu Systems SP-1200 or Akai MPC 2000 or Logic]. He’s out there moving, and recreating a song, in real-time, with his hands.”
Rob uploaded footage of the aforementioned NMC battle of Steve Dee versus Brother Jay (not to be confused with the X-Clan artist):
Rob continued “Dan, knowing my [X-Ecutioners] connection to Steve Dee wanted me to consult on that particular episode. He wanted me recreate the routine that Steve did with ‘Something Funky’ by Big Daddy Kane. I did it. I recorded it. I sent it to him. They loved it, but they couldn’t clear the song by the time they were gonna have the shoot for that scene.”
Blocked from recreating Steve Dee’s set, Rob said he improvised. “What I did instead is I chose to do a tribute to my friend Roc Raida, who passed away [from cardiac arrest related to a martial arts injury] in 2009. He was another popular battle DJ. And he was a student of Steve Dee’s as well, so it just made sense for me to pay homage to Roc Raida. One of Raida’s classic routines was with [Run-D.M.C.’s] ‘Peter Piper’ [which The Breaks was able to clear]. So we went with that routine. The actor that was playing Steve Dee, we had him do that. So while it wasn’t a Steve Dee routine, it all tied together, ’cause Raida was a student of Steve’s. I was in the X-Men with Roc Raida and Steve Dee, so it was six degrees of separation.”
In July of 1991, Raida (born Anthony Williams) rocked the famed routine at Clark Kent’s World Of Supremacy battle. Wearing a propeller hat (and coming on at the 2:50 mark in a video uploaded by Rob Swift), Raida squared off against a fellow elite competitor (with body tricks), Jasey Jase. That routine, an homage to Jam Master Jay in and of itself, has inspired apparent tributes by DJ Jazzy Jeff, Rakim (as DJ), and others.
Rob Swift noted that he took great pride in his duties with The Breaks. “[I made sure that the actors] understood every, single, movement that needed to be performed. So when they got up there and were actually shooting the scene it came off the right way,” noted Rob. “At the end of the day, my name is on it. I love this art, and I would never half-ass anything that has to do with DJ’ing; this art’s been so good to me.”