Historic B-Boy Battle: Mighty Zulu Kings vs The Gamblerz
The Mighty Zulu Kings (MZK) defeated the Gamblerz Crew at the tenth anniversary of Freestyle Session in Los Angeles, in August 2007. This battle became known as “one of the most controversial finals in Freestyle Session history.”
At the time of the tenth anniversary of the Freestyle Session, Gamblerz Crew was on top of their game. They were winning major competitions all over the globe; for instance, the Battle of the Year in 2004. They would later go on to win Battle of the Year in 2009, R-16 in 2008 and 2014, CYON B-Boy Championships in 2010, and the Bucheon B-Boy International Championship in 2016.
The Mighty Zulu Kings (MZK) is a ten-member crew that was founded in New York City by Afrika Bambaataa and his Universal Zulu Nation (UZN). They were later revived in 2002 by b-boy Ness4. The crew was composed of members all over the world. The members of the Mighty Zulu Kings that participated in the Freestyle Session were BZ Brookz, Omar, KMel, Smurf, Floor Phantom, Tyquan and Alien Ness.
They were classified as “Old School,” which is when the crew gives as much attention to the individual style, toprocking and burns, as well as acrobatics and power moves.
The Gamblerz Crew is also a ten-member crew. The original members of the crew were the regional members. Rush, Bruce Lee, Blast Furious, Noodle, Pop and The End were the members that participated in the Freestyle Session. They are from South Korea and are an internationally renowned group. They were one of the top crews in the world for several years. They created their own style, which consists of contortionism, power moves, acrobatics and toprocking. Their group was classified as “New School” because of their fusion of styles and skills.
The battle cyphers, which are dance circle in breakdancing culture with a competitive spirit where the crews are in “battle mode.” The battles are filled with many different techniques, skills and styles. Toprocking, footwork/floor work, and freezes/blow ups are the three most common skills. Toprocking is rhythmic dancing at the beginning of the performance. The footwork, also known as floor work, is on-the-floor aspects that showcase the styles and the skills. And freezes or blow-ups are poses and acrobatic moves that take place at the end of the set.
This was not just a battle between the Gamblerz Crew and the Mighty Zulu Kings but it was also a battle between “Old School” and “New School.” If a group is classified as “Old School” the group puts just as much emphasis on individual style, toprocking and burns, which are gestures used to insult their opponent; as they do acrobatics and power moves. The power moves are the most visually stimulating and they are named after the amount of strength and propulsion necessary to complete them successfully. “New School” groups put emphasis where they want it to be. They blend and fuse different styles together to create their own method.
The Freestyle Session produces extremely anticipated and crucial moments of inspiring moments in B-Boy history. Since the outcome of the Freestyle Session is so important in the b-boy world, the unexpected win for the Mighty Zulu Kings had a large impact on the b-boy community.
(This article was written by Katherine Foca as part of the Global Hip Hop Cultures class at Trinity College Fall 2016 semester.)