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Royal Fam Kings, Red Bull Beat Battle

For Krump Sake

by Rob Scher / Images by Adam Kent Wiest / 11.11.2011

I’m a white boy. This goes way beyond pigmentation. I enjoy hummus and Woody Allen films. Stuffwhitepeoplelike.com is a veritable checklist of my favourite things. This condition extends to the dancefloor. Seizures and freshly caught fish have been conjured when describing my dance style. Heading through to the Theatre in the District to meet with The Royal Fam Kings (RFK), I hoped I could bluff my way through an educated conversation about street dance.

The RFK, hailing from the Cape Flats, represent one of the eight crews competing at next week’s Red Bull Beat Battle. Their style is that of Krump, a sort of self-flagellating form of street dance that emerged as a subculture in the early 2000s in LA. Like most international trends, it found it’s way to our country, and The RFK have been credited for elevating the movement in Cape Town.

Royal Fam Kings, Red Bull Beat Battle

The RFK are rehearsing in front of a wall-sized mirror, scrutinising their every pop and lock. They’re practicing a choreographed routine. This seems at odds with what I had seen of Krumping previously, admittedly limited to an episode of the Wade Robson Project several years ago. Group member Hadley Erasmus explains: “We’re taking the basic Krump moves, putting in a bit of ourselves so that we can educate people as to what Krump is about.”

So if this isn’t its purest form, what is? “Krumping is both, a dance form and a freedom of expression. It has its basics, there are structures, techniques and movements but its 50/50 – you bring a lot of yourself into it.” Hadley says emphatically. “Even the name Krump is an acronym for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise,” he continues. “It’s helped me a lot on a spiritual level, it’s a Christian movement.”

Royal Fam Kings, Red Bull Beat Battle

I stopped attending religious services at about 13 but I think if it had meant losing your shit on a street corner to some heavy bass I would have stuck it out for a couple more years. Hadley enthusiastically describes to me the feeling he gets from Krumping, “There are times when you’re battling someone and you don’t see the crowd or hear the music. Everything just comes out of you and you totally let go.”

With the Red Bull Beat Battle being the first major international street dance festival to take place in South Africa, Hadley sees a promising future for the Royal Fam Kings and Krumping. “There are people that get paid to do this. Krump is growing. In Joburg and Durban it’s massive.”

In terms of the RFK he proudly exclaims, “We’ve all grown so much in a short period of time. We’ve only been together for two years, but we‘ve accomplished a lot. I think we’ve also been chosen for our personalities. We are the definition of Krump. We live it, we eat it, breathe it.”

Royal Fam Kings, Red Bull Beat Battle

And with that the interview is over. Hadley returns to the crew who are anxiously waiting to continue practicing the new routines they are prepping for the battle next week. In a competition that relies on crowd reaction, Krumping is definitely the least recognisable of the dance styles represented. “We’re going to be coming through with Krump in a battle for the first time. We are coming to do what we do and are going to represent Krump, and Christ as well, because that’s what drives our group.”

*The Red Bull Beat Battle goes down at The Blue Room, Old Park Station, Johannesburg on Saturday November 19 at 7pm. Want free tickets? RSVP for the event here.

Royal Fam Kings, Red Bull Beat Battle

Royal Fam Kings, Red Bull Beat Battle

Royal Fam Kings, Red Bull Beat Battle

*All images © Adam Kent Wiest.

Learn more about Red Bull Beat Battle here.

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