Decades ago before the ax “usmam.org” was even born, a niche group of collectors and fans the sneakers, streetwear, and also hip-hop culture coexisted and also were watch a an enig to the rest of the world. These days, it’s not tough to uncover someone who fits that mold in both a optimistic and an adverse connotation. What is challenging to find but is someone who works in a profession wherein stereotypically you i will not ~ think of detect someone who fits the mold. And thus, surprise usmam.orgS to be born — a new series v the goal of seeking out individuals who may not come off together one in ~ first, since of their task or occupation, however truly exemplifies the society once girlfriend peel ago the initial metaphorical layer. This day we present the CEO, creative director and also co-founder that the world famous run crew, Jabbawockeez, Phil “Swagger Boy/SB” Tayag.

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While the Jabbawockeez have actually been a cultural phenomenon in our an are for the critical decade, taking off after winning season 1 of America’s finest Dance Crew, castle have generally danced under the guise the their currently iconic white masks. As soon as Tayag struggle the phase alongside Bruno Mars in ~ the 60th Grammy Awards this weekend in ~ Madison Square Garden, couple of recognized the dancer as one of the initial founders of the team — much less to it is in the one who presented Bruno with the idea that wearing for this reason much warmth on stage, creating one of the show’s standout moments.


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from left come right: TJ Lewis, Bruno Mars, Phil Tayag. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty images for NARAS

Origin Story

The story of the Jabbawockeez has been recorded multiple times over the years, but Tayag’s story offers further insight into just how a group of near friends and dancers turn a counterculture right into a mainstream phenomenon that associated at the core through streetwear, music and dance. Both a dancer/breaker and also a rapper as well as streetwear enthusiast, Tayag offered words of wisdom before even starting off his story. “More than dance, much more than anything, an initial and foremost it’s constantly been about communicating, to express an idea, it’s constantly been more of one outlet,” he explains.Growing increase in Sacramento, California, the observed beach street breaking for as lengthy as that remembers and aside from functioning in a boutique for around five months, never had actually a job that didn’t indicate dancing. Acknowledging the beginnings of the culture from the ’70s and ’80s, Tayag claims the West placed its own twist ~ above it: “the boogaloo slide, the popping side and all that, of course we’re gonna have actually our very own interpretation of that, and also come the ’90s is as soon as it became much more hybrid, to the point where we were even calling ourselves housers.”The hybrid layout of the ’90s is what many of united state are familiar with when we view Tayag and the other members that the Jabbawockeez perform. “There were b-boy moves, it was hip-hop but there was favor freestyle, abstraction, dancing increase top, not going to the ground, footwork arms and stuff prefer that. So there to be a shift from ’70s v the locking come the ’80s b-boying to the popping activity to this residence era and then new jack,” that describes. The new jack format is also the best means to describe Bruno’s layout as due to the fact that it combines aspects of swing, soul, funk, pop, hip-hop and also R&B.“Because us were from northern Cali and also so untraditional, we came to be a style of no styles.” Tayag isn’t afraid to tell it favor it is, and recounts farming up top top the West coastline with candor. ”We thrived up and we to be halfway thugging. Us knew the medicine dealers or maybe you to be one. You weren’t in a gang however you to be a gang. It to be a weird culture because anyone was trying to figure out what they want to do, but it was all street culture,” he recalls. Tayag adds that dance, like skating, was very early counterculture and he still considers it to it is in one today. The connection in between the overlapping societies naturally caused the creation of the Jabbawockeez.
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Eddie Lee/usmam.org

Dance & Streetwear, Relatable Countercultures

Linking up and forming a crew v the homies — Kevin “KB” Brewer and also Joe “Punkee” Larot, that were component of his three Muskee crew together with Rynan “Kid Rainen” Paguio from mountain Diego and Gary “Gee One” Kendall and Randy “DJ great One” Bernal indigenous the MindTricks crew in the just Area — Jabbawockeez “became the visual to music,” Tayag explains. “Because us were from northern Cali and also so untraditional, we came to be a format of no styles.” the mentions Bruce Lee, Rock secure Crew, and Michael Jackson as sources of inspiration and transitions right into talking around how the distinct style of their crew was invited warmly through fans. “People could’ve really frowned top top what us were doing because we blended a popping style and then simply went top top the soil to part b-boy shit and also then a choreography-esque layout that would be contemporary or new. Therefore it’s not traditional and also we to be doing all of that over some abstract beat by Mix grasp Mike or Invisibl Skratch Piklz or DJ Shadow. It got really weird however it to be what us liked and what we were exposed to.”During the same time that Jabbawockeez began to get traction, Tayag additionally helped founded a next project called “Byterz will Be Eaten,” which was a direct an outcome of civilization trying to insurance claim they to be the Jabbawockeez and also copying your every relocate without contributing anything to the culture. He references the vain nature of hip-hop because that the bear of the term: “It was some hip-hop competitive shit and also that’s once in ‘06 I remained in bed and also felt worn down of the biting; it’s not favor one time through one move, it’s the song, it’s the concept, v the formula, v all this moves, it was some verbatim shit.” This feeling of being replicated is not brand-new and is specifically prevalent in the streetwear space.After being in the spotlight because that over a decade, Tayag now understands the being part of a motion that gift something brand-new and distinctive to the world naturally results in everyone and everything wanting a item of it. Together the an imaginative director for his BWBE label, Tayag disclosure originality and encourages proponents to add their very own twist. “Instead that taking, what are you contributing come it? exactly how are you remixing it instead of just completely cashing the end on someone else’s principles of an idea?” amongst Tayag’s countless ventures, the has discovered that the usual bond holding with each other both run communities and also streetwear communities is music. Artists and also producers have influence in beginning and finishing fashion and sneaker trends just like the backbone of any good dancer is a fire beat to anchor them. And over the weekend, no one was a larger Grammy winner than Bruno Mars.

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Eddie Lee/usmam.org

Flexing with Bruno Mars

The story of just how Tayag finished up on phase with Bruno Mars actually starts 5 years back when Mars got to out for the first time to work-related together ~ above “Treasure.” unfortunately for the Jabbawockeez, they were two weeks right into the cool opening of their present at the Luxor — the Jabbawockeez are signed to the MGM family and also previously had a residency at the Monte Carlo.“I to be kicking it with him in vegas at among his shows and was like this guy is one of the homies. I felt really poor because it to be a cool chance to collide with a major artist.” 2 years would pass as Mars walk on tour and also the Jabbawockeez further grew their team and global shows. Then, when “Uptown Funk” to be being produced, Tayag received an additional call from Mars and the Jabbawockeez would lastly get come collaborate with one of the greatest forces in music. Indigenous there, the collective would work-related together on the super Bowl, “24K Magic,” “That’s What i Like” and also most recently “Finesse.”Before talking around Sunday night’s performance, Tayag shouted the end Cardi B. “She carried a crazy energy to that thing. She’s like everything that world see on social media. She’s that method and that’s why everyone’s rooting for her; she’s one of us, she’s not one of these entitled human being on that Hollywood stuff. Simply blunt and unfiltered. Ns think that’s what this brand-new generation is about, they simply want real people,” he says.The Cardi B shoutout is important since the success and love displayed during the Grammys power was a straight reflection that the actual bond Tayag and Mars have arisen over the years. Tayag started discussing outfits v Bruno prior to the show and also said that the sneakers had to lug the juice. “It organically functioned out, the fusing the the old and the new. Indigenous the overcome colors come the ill air Max 1/97 Sean Wotherspoon and the Prestos and also the Jordan 1. We just wanted to be prefer ‘let’s flex on them genuine quick’ and felt like it was the appropriate opportunity. I feel favor it was epic in that way, there’s that sneakerhead in united state all and also that was a small nod to the homies,” he claims with a smile.
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Eddie Lee/usmam.org
Sneakers and also dancing/b-boying have actually been linked since the start of hip-hop culture but Tayag believes there’s quiet room to grow. “I tho feel favor dancers have actually yet to really button up pair of shoes in a certain full-on dance-related way. Ns guess you can say v the PUMA Suedes and also adidas joints you have actually the level soles, which provides the gliding look so ill. But people are also breaking in sock Darts and Frees and even Timbs now,” the states. We likewise get right into the object of just how sneakers have become component of pop society as the sneakerhead trend has totally saturated day-to-day people.“It’s really, yes, really dope since we’re wearing a basketball player’s shoe that was meant to be worn top top the court and we’re turning it into some street stuff. Now we’re wearing basketball shoes intended for the court with jeans and everyday wear. Even with skating from Vans and DC and all that we observed the Nike SB come out,” Tayag says, still smiling. All this is a product that the internet and also the reality that street society is pop culture. “Street culture in basic is a driving force in pop culture point blank,” additional relaying a post of interaction to close out our chat. “You have actually a bunch of eye looking at it from various perspectives every critiquing, there are all these communities, and also what’s dope is we were may be to offer a nod to usmam.org, streetwear and sneakerhead culture. It’s a have fun of appropriate right appropriate now. It to be dope to be in sync and fire turn off a cool, strong vibe.”
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native left come right: TJ Lewis, Bruno Mars, Phil Tayag. Picture by Kevin Mazur/Getty pictures for NARAS
“More than dance, much more than anything, first and foremost it’s always been around communicating, expressing an idea, it’s always been more of one outlet.”Phil Tayag and the Jabbawockeez have blessed pop culture with their unique and also “weird” layout for over a decade and while at time Tayag take it on the persona that the guy behind the white mask, ~ above a Sunday night in brand-new York City’s people famous Madison Square Garden arena, he offered a cosign come the culture alongside fellow dancer TJ Lewis and also the incredibly talented Bruno Mars. There’s a possibility you may have actually heard the Phil Tayag aka “SB” prior to today but now you know exactly how a boy came up through his friends indigenous NorCal, prospered into men to develop a an international phenomenon and also glided their way across the biggest night in music.
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