Bboy Wicket: Producing Breakbeats and Thoughts on Breakin Music in 2023
In 2023, the Breakin community has reached new heights, with the art form set to make its debut at the upcoming Paris Olympics in 2024. However, one of the main concerns voiced by many breakers in recent years is the quality of the music played at large-scaled events. While classic tracks like James Brown and The Jimmy Castor Bunch have remained popular from the past until now, many breakers complain that the current tracks played at these events sound too "robotic."
The music copyright issue is one of the main reasons for this, as event organizers want to avoid copyright issues and be able to post footage online. While this is understandable, it has left many breakers longing for the classic tracks they love.
As someone who's been a B-boy for over a decade, it's easy to relate to the feeling of missing classic tracks at jams. I mean, who doesn't miss hearing bangers like Wu Tang Clan's Protect Ya Neck Bloody Version or The Herbaliser's Goldrush. Sigh.
To explore the controversial topic further, I had the opportunity to speak to the legendary Bboy Wicket, who has been producing breakbeats and DJing at large-scaled events such as Break Free's Space City Classic. In this interview, I've asked Wicket about his thoughts on producing breakbeats and his insights on Breakin music in 2023.
1. Can you briefly introduce yourself?
Bboy Wicket, also known as Gabriel Jaochico, is a prominent member of Renegades Rockers and Funky Fanatix. When asked about the origin of his B-boy name, he shared that it came from a Star Wars spinoff movie series about the Ewoks, where one of the characters was named "Wicket". One day, he went to a mall and had a hat made with the name "Wicket" on it, which he wore every day. As a result, people in school started calling him "Wicket" and would often yell out "Wasssup Wicket" in the hallways.
2. How did you get into producing beats?
During his 6th grade year, Bboy Wicket's interest in music was sparked when he saw his friend's older brother playing beats in the school hallways. He was fascinated by the art form and would often hang around to watch people rap over the beats. This led him to follow his friend and his brother home where he would sit and watch them create music.
Years later, his mentor from Renegade Rockers, Aki, gave him rides home after practice, and Wicket noticed that Aki would run up a hill to make music at a home studio. Wicket would sit at the studio and watch them record songs, and Aki would show him how to make beats and let him create the drums for his songs. This experience solidified Wicket's passion for music production.
Through Aki, Wicket met another mentor, SwampKat (RIP), who taught him a lot about music production. SwampKat invited Wicket to his studio sessions and allowed him to create beats with him. Wicket also met Dug Infinite through Aki, who taught him about chopping samples and always had the newest gear before it was officially released.
3. How can someone get into producing Breakin music?
According to Bboy Wicket, studying classic breaks and understanding how songs were produced with a live band is crucial for music production. He personally recreated popular songs to figure out how drums, horns, bass, and song structure work. Once he understood these elements, he started producing his own breaks. Wicket emphasizes the importance of avoiding perfectly quantized beats and instead focusing on capturing a "human feel" and rhythm that breakers love.
For those interested in learning music production, Wicket suggests using free apps and software to create beats and learning music theory. He also recommends taking a course in person or online if possible, or searching for tutorials on YouTube.
I guess in this day of age, anything is possible with the power of the internet.
4. Why do you think many people in the community have an issue with the music currently played at large-scale events?
Bboy Wicket expressed how it's upsetting that there are limitations on music selection at high-level competitions due to copyright and licensing issues. He explained that it's disappointing to not be able to use the music that breakers love and get hyped to, such as classic 90s Hip Hop songs and James Brown tunes. Instead, organizers often rely on original music created by producers who make beats specifically for these type of large-scaled events.
As I mentioned earlier, I also miss classic 90s Hip Hop songs like A Tribe Called Quest or Wu Tang Clan, but luckily there are producers still bring fire tracks to the scene.
Wicket acknowledged that there are trustworthy producers such as Fleg and Lean Rock who can provide for the scene, but some beats produced by others sound robotic, too fast, and lack soul. Unfortunately, breakers are often forced to dance to these beats at big events, which can be challenging and frustrating.
He believes this is why the community reacts negatively when they hear these beats at major events.
5. In your opinion, what are some ways for our community to take Breakin music to the next level?
Bboy Wicket believes that authenticity is key when producing beats. He advises aspiring producers to seek honest feedback from experienced individuals like Skeme Richards to improve their skills. Wicket acknowledges that he has faced criticism for his music in the past and emphasizes the importance of persevering and continuing to make music.
Moreover, Wicket stresses the significance of proper mixing and mastering when producing high-quality music. He recommends taking courses to learn the fundamentals of music production and mix/mastering, citing his own experience of taking a course in 2014 at MediaTech Institute in Austin, TX. Wicket notes that once he learned how to mix and master, his beats started receiving positive feedback from others, especially when playing them at practice sessions.
Wicket believes that developing one's ear takes time and practice and encourages aspiring producers to seek feedback from a fresh set of ears every time they produce a beat. He often shares new beats on his Instagram stories to gauge audience feedback and determine their potential. Wicket acknowledges that some beats may not be up to par, but he believes that seeking feedback is crucial to improving one's craft.
Basically, the more fire emojis, the better.
In conclusion, Wicket advises aspiring producers to stay true to themselves, seek honest feedback, and focus on proper mixing and mastering. For those interested in learning more about music production, they can send a DM via his Instagram handle, @bboywicket.
6. Anything you would like to say to the Breakin community?
When it comes to developing one's dance skills, Bboy Wicket has some valuable advice that can benefit any breaker. Bboy Wicket believes that practicing with structure and purpose is essential, especially for competitors who want to improve. He offers coaching services through "The BreakBook," and recommends other programs like Bboy Focus' "Bboy Dojo" to help develop one's skills.
Wicket also emphasizes the importance of knowing when to give your body a break and take time off to recover and avoid injury. He encourages breakers to engage in other activities like watching movies, attending sports games, or comedy shows to recharge their batteries.
Lastly, Wicket advises breakers not to compete at every event and to allow themselves time to learn new content. He believes that taking a break will keep opponents guessing and prevent them from knowing every move in battles.
Overall, Wicket encourages breakers to listen to their bodies and join his program "The BreakBook" to take their skills to the next level.
Bboy Wicket would also like to mention that the Renegade's Rockers will celebrate their 40th anniversary on his birthday, September 30th, 2023, in San Francisco. Wicket is excited about this milestone event and plans to post more information soon.
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LinkedIn: Erryl Ho