Pro-Am in San FranThis past weekend, the 2010 Pro-Am International Hip-Hop Festival rolled into San Francisco, and rest assured … it did not disappoint.

On Saturday (April 3), over a several hundred b-boys and b-girls from the Bay Area and beyond poured into City Nights nightclub in SF’s South of Market neighborhood for a fun-filled day that brought together hip-hop’s different elements.

Poppers, breakers, graf artists, DJs, hip-hop entrepreneurs, photographers, videographers, parents and fans in general were treated to a memorable afternoon and evening that brought together everything positive about culture.

In the whirlwind of materialistic lyrics and petty beefs that sometimes make up today’s hip-hop world, events such as the Pro-Am International Hip-Hop Festival remind us of hip-hop’s roots and all of the inspiration, creativity, and positivity therein.

Shortly after noon on a sunny but brisk day in SF, kids started lining up outside City Nights, and by 2:30, DJs were already cutting up lots of old-school tracks, to which breakers formed several different cyphers as they began to get loose and warm up.

A few minutes after 3, the group choreography competition began, featuring two different groups based out of San Francisco: Funky Beyond Control and Fierce But Cute. These two groups, who had breakers from the ages of 10 to 18, brought a lot of energy to the table and got things started off on the right foot. In what was a close decision, the all-girls’ squad, Funky But Cute, took the group choreography award.

After the choreography competition concluded, the 2-on-2 Poppin’ contest began. The eight two-person teams showcased their moves to 70s funk-laced tracks and included poppers from as far away as Southern California, Las Vegas, and even Puerto Rico, as well as local teams from San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and San Jose among other cities. The poppin’ battles, like every other competition, showed the true diversity that exists within the hip-hop community, as the artists ranged in age from 5 to 50+ were of all sorts of different ethnic backgrounds, and of course, both genders. You see, hip-hop can and does bring together people from all types of backgrounds — and does so in a positive way.

After all eight two-person poppin’ teams had performed, the judges narrowed down the field to four teams and set up two semi-final match-ups: Playboys Inc. (San Jose) vs. Jimmy Hit Squad (Santa Rosa); and Devious (San Fernando Valley) vs. SBC (SF).

After several great performances, the field was leveled to the a phenomenal finals match-up between Playboys Inc. and Devious. While Playboys Inc. brought a lot of precision and talent, it was Devious, who perhaps brought an additional level of creativity and maybe a little fuller use of the stage, who would go on to capture the 2-on-2 Poppin’ title.

Next up, the 3-on-3 Breakin’ battles began. That’s when things really started to heat up in City Nights. More than thirty breakers and ten teams graced the stage including such squads as: the Humboldt Rockers (Humboldt County, CA); BFAM (from Hercules, CA with b-boys Thai Breaker, Mark, and Jeremiah Jux); Lunatics; Bad Dudes (SF); Flavor Squad (SF); Renegades (SF); B-Boy or Die; Rock Rats (SF); Tres Locos Breakers; Born in the Bay; and Ker Crew (Las Vegas) to name a few.

You gotta give propsB to all the crews that participated — every crew brought something to the table: olid toprockin’ (upright dancing, shuffles, & feelin’ the beat), downrockin’ (moves performed on the ground), freezes (moves that come to a halt and pose usually to accentuate part of the beat), and power moves (crowd pleasers like headspins, backspins, aerial moves, etc.).

When the preliminary rounds were finished, the judges selected three of the squads to appear in the finals: Rock Rats (SF breakers from Rock Force & Rat Pack: Noel Rockswel, A.D., & Groovzmaster); Flavor Squad (the Bay Area chapter of the nationwide Flavor Squad movement featuring b-boys Prolific of the Illest Villains Crew, Casanova Fresh and Lucid); and the one-and-only Renegades (featuring accomplished Frisco b-boys Milestone, Kareem, & Iron Monkey.)

For the finals, the competition moved off the main stage and onto the main floor right in the middle of the audience. While all three crews manifested some serious skills and breakin’ moves, it was ultimately the Renegades crew that prevailed and went onto to take the 3-on-3 title and prize money.

Aside from the battles, the afternoon and evening, other elements were showcased. At one point during the event, MC B-Boy Child took the time to honor one of San Francisco’s illest graf artists of all-time: Crayone. Appearing alongside fellow members of the Northstar chapter of Zulu Nation, Crayone was given a lengthy homage by B-Boy Child and other members of Zulu Nation and recognized as a true “king” of Bay Area graffiti art. He received a sharp-looking plaque, commemorating him being an honoree of this year’s International Hip-Hop Pro-Am.

Additionally, Medea Sirkas threw an ill performance during intermission. As the lights went down, b-boys and b-girls dressed in some elaborate costumes (including intricately lit-up astronaut suits and costumes with bright red button-downs; black slacks; red, gold, & white sneakers; white ties; and gold hats and masks.) As there was no competing involved, the performances were strictly for the enjoyment of the audience, and they were on point in every respect. The crowd went wild for the ten to fifteen minutes that Medea Sirkas held court.

The DJs truly brought their A-game throughout the whole event, and while they were mostly behind the scenes in the upstairs booth, they really deserve a lot of credit. Wheels of steels masters such as Kevvy Kev, Cellski, JusOne and Quantum were just a few to hold down the music portion through the entire event. Without their ill artistry on the turntables, the performers wouldn’t have really been able to showcase their moves to their full extent.

That’s how it went down in Frisco, now Zulu Gremlin and the rest of his team will prepare for the next stop on the Pro-Am International Hip-Hop Festival, which is Miami Beach.

The Pro-Am is slated to hit Miami Beach, Florida from May 14th through the 16th with a slew of events, workshops and fun stuff. So, keep it locked at for ticket info and further details.

We will be giving away a few tickets to the event in the coming weeks, so stay tuned…

All photos published in this article are courtesy of Carolina Ramirez, Academy of Art (SF)