The spirit of Hip-Hop was on full display at the Red Bull event, through competitive breakdancing and headlining performances from A-Reece and Priddy Ugly.  

The Red Bull BC One competition, which took place on March 23, 2024 at TMF Studios in Braamfontein saw scores of people gather to give the art of breakdancing its flowers.  

The competition is a Red Bull initiative, intended to shine a light on South Africa’s breakdancing culture and provide a platform for professional breakdancers (known as B-Boys/Girls) to demonstrate their creativity and talent through competition.  

A B-Boy performs before judges. Photo: Kabir Jugram

This was certainly the case for Joony Roc from Johannesburg South, a passionate B-Boy, who has been working on his craft for over 10 years. Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela after performing to the sound of deafening speakers and roaring applause from a jam-packed audience, he said: “Seeing the turnout tonight and some of the faces that are here… I’m happy. It feels like the culture is being sparked again and people are starting to pay attention to breaking because breaking is one of the original elements of Hip-Hop.” 

While the event gave exposure to an unsung art form, it also paid homage to an iconic one: Hip-Hop. With the likes of A-Reece and Priddy Ugly headlining the event, hundreds of young artists and hip-hop lovers were seen filling up the stands.

As A-Reece quietly emerged from the crowd to perform, cheers only grew louder the closer he got to the stage. This excitement would soon build into a hysteria of moshing bodies, strained voices and enchanted minds as the crowd was reciting A-Reece’s verses bar for bar throughout his performance.  

A-Reece performing to a packed crowd. Footage: Kabir Jugram

The spirit of hip-hop had people enchanted. An up-and-coming artist named ‘OG Wanton’ summed this up neatly, “Without Hip-Hop I’d be lost. It gave me a safe space to create, write and express how I feel… Without that in life, I wouldn’t be who I am right now”. His collaborator ‘Pxzess’ added: “It (Hip-Hop) puts us (the youth) in a position of being something bigger than us as individuals. Hip Hop is a movement, not a genre.” 

Rapper and headliner artist, Priddy Ugly told Wits Vuvuzela that hip-hop played a pivotal role in his life and development: “Hip-hop culture raised me. I wouldn’t be here without it. Hip-hop taught me to believe in myself, taught me confidence… it taught me my language!”

Priddy Ugly headlined the Red Bull One Event on Saturday. Photo: Kabir Jugram

In an age where Amapiano has become a global phenomenon and artists like Tyla and Black Coffee have achieved global acclaim, hip-hop has fallen by the wayside in terms of its mainstream appeal. However, it is events such as this that remind us that while the culture has been neglected in recent times, it has certainly not lost its relevance or importance. 

The event united people around their common love for a genre that grew them, moulded their identities and taught them self-expression. Not only was this event an exhibition of a growing breakdance culture, but it also served as a timely reminder of the importance of hip-hop to the lives of many South African youths.