We went after 3 people with different personalities, and with real stories written with their adidas Originals. The second person to be interviewed is Mr-Fe, a “present-school” bboy from the Street Breakers Crew which has been in the Hip-Hop scene since 1991, and today along with his partner, they are responsible for one of the biggest parties in the culture in all Latin America: the Master Crew.
This content is a partnership with SneakersBR with the support of adidas Originals.
“My name is Mr. Fe, I’m a part of the Street Breakers Crew and of Spray Studio Produções – a company that has been promoting events related to breakdancing, hip hop, and graffiti for over 20 years; we’re the producers of Master Crew, and For Fun, our two best-known parties. Also, I’m a freelancer, art director specialized in 3D and touch up, and I have my own studio”.
AND I GOT TO UNDERSTAND JUST HOW IMPORTANT THAT CULTURE WAS, AND WHY AT 9 PM ON CHRISTMAS EVE, THESE GUYS WERE DANCING INSTEAD OF BEING WITH THEIR FAMILIES
When did you learn about hip hop and got involved with it?
I first got involved with the culture in the Christmas of ’91. I lived at Vila Carrão, in the East Zone, and a friend of mine invited me, on Christmas Eve, to watch some guys dancing in an avenue close by. We went to check it out and I just never wanted to leave that place, the whole thing just blew my mind! I watched those guys dancing with matching hoodies, with graffiti on their jackets, I was like “Wow! This is unique, this is special”. Those moves that went against gravity – I identified instantly with all that, and I said “I need to learn this now”.
And I got to understand just how important that culture was, and why at 9 PM on Christmas Eve, these guys were dancing instead of being with their families – and there were a lot of guys. That was really awesome, man. They really must love that. And then I asked “when will you guys be back”?, “We’re here every day at 7 PM”. Then, I started dancing on Christmas Day in 1991 and I never stopped, I’ve been dancing now for almost 28 years. And after a few years my crew, Street Breakers, taught me to dance. After two years I got in, and I’ve been a member ever since, we’re celebrating our 30th aniversary, this year. It’s one of the oldest still active crews in the country. We were all members of Zona Leste, Vila Formosa, Vila Carrão, Tatuapé, Vila Santa Isabel, we all got together there, all from the neighborhood.
And how were the Master Crew and For Fun parties created?
In 1993, we realized that the country had a huge deficit of information regarding hip hop. We wanted to know what was happening on the other side of the world but we didn’t even know what was going on in the neighborhood next door. Our communicators at the time were letters, TV, and print, which would always feature completely distorted pieces on our culture. So we started creating content ourselves – we translated many foreign articles, we interviewed people by letter, we started writing articles, sometimes foreigners would come here or we would have an opportunity to travel abroad. And just like that, we created a fanzine called Zine SB, and right on its second edition it became SB Magazine. This magazine was a defining moment in the history of hip hop culture, especially to breakdancing, because at the same time Os Gêmeos launched Fisca, the first graffiti magazine in the country. I started SB Magazine with an older guy from my crew, Bispo (Bishop), who to this day is still my partner at Spray Studio, our event company.
The fanzine culture was extremely strong, it was the underground communication of the time. I had a punk girlfriend, an anarchist, and she produced some fanzines which got me inspired. And we wanted to do something different, with a colorful cover, something that people weren’t really used to doing. Back in those days, I was just getting into graphic arts, the computer was just arriving, so I decided to do something better because people always viewed our culture as something poorly done from the ghettos. I said “dude, it’s going to be the best fanzine in the market”. We launched, we sold out, it became a magazine, and 50 units, became 100, 200 and so on, when we realized, it was all over Brazil. Every three months a new issue would launch and we’d throw a launching party.
It was really cool, the people would arrive at the party and instead of dancing, we’d see them leaning against the wall reading the magazine. And nobody would dance until everyone finished ready to the last page. I really loved seeing that, because people were really thirsty for information, they wanted to know what was going on. We still have a pile of letters, pictures, and registers from that time. We stuck with it until 1998 when the internet arrived and we saw there was no more need for it, the information was already online. So we closed production with the 10th edition. It was cool.
Oh! It’s really important to point out that the idea of making a magazine was my sister’s. She was six at the time I started dancing, and I was twelve. My sister would go with me to practice because I couldn’t leave her home by herself. And today she’s a B-girl too – one of the pioneers, still in action today. Today she’s more into CrossFit, she’s a CrossFit competitor, but she still dances in the circles, she’s with us, with the crew.
IN 1993, WE REALIZED THAT THE COUNTRY HAD A HUGE DEFICIT OF INFORMATION REGARDING HIP HOP. WE WANTED TO KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD BUT WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD NEXT DOOR. OUR COMMUNICATORS AT THE TIME WERE LETTERS, TV, AND PRINT, WHICH WOULD ALWAYS FEATURE COMPLETELY DISTORTED PIECES ON OUR CULTURE.
And now you’re bringing back theses histories and images on Instagram, right?
Yeah, we’ve always believed that information shouldn’t be kept to yourself, it should be shared, we’ll move on and but history must keep going. So we give away all our materials, we never deny interviews, we never deny anything. People come here to photo scan pictures for books, for documents, for documentaries, we make a point in sharing it all.
We have equal respect for someone new to the culture as we do for someone who’s been in it for a long time. As a matter of fact, we don’t even like to be called “old school” because we consider ourselves as “current school”. We’re still active, none of us have stopped, really we’re just old. You can call me old, but not “old school” (laughter). We think there needs to be a balance between us and them for us to transition our influences, our information. If we’re too radical they won’t listen to us and we won’t listen to them. The youngest in our crew is 24 years old. He says “the guys were dancing before I was even born, you know”? They crack up. The younger ones suffer a little at our hands.
What’s the dimension of Master Crew?
Master Crew is at Casa das Caldeiras and on average four thousand people attend it. We close the whole place up, the doors need to be shut and all. And it happens once a year. It’s the most famous event in Latin America, and one of the best known in the world. We have many circles that we call “cyphers”. As a matter of fact, this term was conceived in the same environment as the hip hop parties in the ’70s. And that’s what we’re most proud of. Even though there’s competition there, nobody cares who wins, people care about the mood, bringing people together is Master Crew’s main attraction. Old school people, new school, producers from other parties, from small ones to big ones, everybody attends and crews come from all over, from out of the country, from here, from Europe, Latin America. Argentina and Chile always represent. But Brazil is way more populous in hip hop, in breakdancing, so it’s natural to have more people from here.
So now talking about the good stuff, like sneakers. What does it represent to you?
Actually, the story between our culture and sneakers goes like this: I need a sport sneaker that’s comfortable to dance, and that is cheap. The Adidas Superstar, Pro-Keds, Puma Suede, they were all cheap sneakers at the time. Today they’re all expensive, but they were actually the sports sneakers that people from the outskirts could afford. Brooklyn, Bronx, Harlem, they all bought that. But even so, it needed some identity. So we decided to add the fat laces, this was our first exclusive identity. And our crew understood that this was what differentiated the normal population from those who are always upside-down spinning on their heads, those who have a special swing (laughter). The fat lace represented us, and we made that our symbol.
My special connection with sneakers was always amazing. My mom would give me money to buy new pairs. At the time, there were only two national brands, Rainha, horrible, I hated the Rainha, and the M 2000, they were a little bit better but were more expensive. And I didn’t like them, I didn’t think they were good for dancing. So, you know what I would do? I’d go up to the guys that had cooler sneakers, and I’d say “Dude, will you sell me your worn sneakers?” I’d show up home with a patched-up pair of sneakers for the price of a new one, my mom would get really pissed. And I’d go around showing off my sneakers that no one had, that someone had brought from abroad and it was covered in silver tape patches. So that’s my connection with sneakers, it’s esthetics, identity with the culture and comfort. I can’t dance with uncomfortable sneakers.
But I can’t forget one thing, during these last few years my head started to change a little. I live in the world of business, brands, and hip hop culture, and I think there should be a balance and respect between them. I can’t lose my culture’s identity, because we don’t need brands for it to exist, we made this far without them – all we need is music and a floor, nothing else. The culture doesn’t need much to exist, it’s cheap. So we can say no to anything that threatens our culture. But I can’t sit here and not mention that the partnerships are never really fair. We think that it’s messed up when a brand comes in contact with us and don’t really offer any support for the culture. We don’t make a big fuss about it, but we leave it on the side. We say “hay, guys I don’t see you giving us any support, you guys only show up when you want something for yourself” It is what it is, it’s just part of it, but I think brands need to open their eyes and look at hip hop and all its culture because they are still here and they will keep going. And brands will also win with this.
MY MOM WOULD GIVE ME MONEY TO BUY NEW PAIRS. AT THE TIME, THERE WERE ONLY TWO NATIONAL BRANDS, RAINHA, HORRIBLE, I HATED THE RAINHA, AND THE M 2000, THEY WERE A LITTLE BIT BETTER BUT WERE MORE EXPENSIVE. AND I DIDN’T LIKE THEM, I DIDN’T THINK THEY WERE GOOD FOR DANCING. SO, YOU KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO? I’D GO UP TO THE GUYS THAT HAD COOLER SNEAKERS, AND I’D SAY “DUDE, WILL YOU SELL ME YOUR WORN SNEAKERS?” I’D SHOW UP HOME WITH A PATCHED-UP PAIR OF SNEAKERS FOR THE PRICE OF A NEW ONE
I WENT ABROAD WITH A BLACK GAZELLE AND I TORE THEM UP FROM DANCING SO HARD, IT WAS 4 MONTHS OF DANCING LIKE CRAZY. EVERY DAY, IT WAS EITHER PRACTICE OR PARTY. IT WAS THE BIGGEST ENDURANCE TEST OF MY LIFE, THAT WAS ABOUT 4 YEARS AGO, I WAS ALREADY AN OLD GUY, YOU KNOW? I WAS LIKE A KID, GOING TO PARTIES ONE DAY, SLEEPING IN THE OTHER, DUDE I WAS LIVING IN CITIES I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO LIVE IN, SAN FRANCISCO, NEW YORK, BAY AREA. I DANCED WITH PEOPLE, CREWS, THAT I’VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF DANCING WITH. SO THEN, IT WAS ALL TOO MUCH FOR THE BLACK GAZELLE (LAUGHTER). IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRIP, I HAD TO LOOK FOR A STORE TO BUY A NEW ONE, AND I FOUND THIS ONE HERE.
What’s the story behind your Adidas Gazelle OG and why is it so important to you?
The Gazelle is the most compact sneakers for my feet and it also works better with the format. I’ve used others. For instance, the Superstar is a model that I just don’t feel comfortable to dance in. I have a Superstar, and I think it’s extremely comfortable and nice, but for dancing, I’m really not a fan o the out sole. My sister, however, loves dancing with the Superstar. So the Gazelle, for me, is the one that best fits my feet, the flat lacing looks good on it.
But here’s the story: I went abroad with a black Gazelle and I tore them up from dancing so hard, it was 4 months of dancing like crazy. Every day, it was either practice or party. It was the biggest endurance test of my life, that was about 4 years ago, I was already an old guy, you know? I was like a kid, going to parties one day, sleeping in the other, dude I was living in cities I’ve always wanted to live in, San Francisco, New York, Bay Area. I danced with people, crews, that I’ve always dreamed of dancing with. So then, it was all too much for the black Gazelle (laughter). In the middle of the trip, I had to look for a store to buy a new one, and I found this one here. Now, its days are also almost over, but I’ve had it for 4 years, sneakers really last with me. I only practice and dance with it, I don’t usually wear it in everyday life. But I practice twice a week. It’s my favorite battle sneaker. I’m actually going to retire it from practices and wear it only for battles, to see if it lasts longer.
We always think that the older the sneakers gets, the more we should keep it, right? Dude, I feel more comfortable. The first thing that pops into your head is comfort, and the older ones always offer more comfort. We explore it in a way that people don’t normally do, we step in all sorts of angles, it gets beat up.
THEN, I SAW MY SNEAKERS LYING AROUND, STARTED SKETCHING SOME THINGS AND IT HAPPENED. IT WAS RIGHT IN THE BEGINNING, AND AFTER WE DID THIS. AND IT’S CRAZY BECAUSE THE GUYS FROM WITHIN THE CULTURE AND EVEN SOME DESIGNERS THAT I REALLY RESPECT, ARE ALWAYS ACKNOWLEDGING IT! AND MAN, IT’S IN INK NOW, RIGHT? I’LL NEVER STOP BEING A B-BOY AND I’LL NEVER FORGET THE CREW.
We noticed that you really identify with the fatlaces symbol and that it is present in in your life in many ways.
Crazy, right? I made the crew’s logo with the fat lace symbol in 2000. I was living with my partner/brother Bispo, we were sitting at home having some beers, bouncing ideas off each other, and I started sketching some logos because we thought we needed to change the crew’s logo. Actually, the crew didn’t have a logo, it was just some letters. Then, I saw my sneakers lying around, started sketching some things and it happened. It was right in the beginning, and after we did this. And it’s crazy because the guys from within the culture and even some designers that I really respect, are always acknowledging it! And man, it’s in ink now, right? I’ll never stop being a B-boy and I’ll never forget the crew.