“September 7th 2012, the first day of the Notorious BE. I arrived late in the afternoon. In Dutch terms it had been a hot day. Not the ideal circumstances to make stops on the way, carrying your luggage into the middle of nowhere because you have to run last minute errands at specific places. However I was so hyped and excited that it really didn’t matter to me if I had to walk all the way there. As soon as I made my last and final stop in Heerlen I got out of the train and walked into the city center. It felt very quiet when I left the station and the sun was already setting. The closer I came to the spot, the noise and the music got louder. I dragged my luggage through a big shopping street. It was the perfect introduction: strolling my final meters towards the epicenter of Hip Hop and preparing on what was to come -since- a few weeks before that I made a goal for myself: (A flyer had come out where it said that Salah would also attend The Notorious IBE. At first I was skeptic since I knew he was still on the Michael Jackson Immortal tour but soon it became clear he really was going to be there). So, it was easy math for me, I set my focus and intentions on meeting him.
As soon I turned the last corner I saw some dancers chilling and eating at a square. The great thing about IBE being held in a city center is the fact that ‘normal people’ are also walking around, mostly just minding their own business- as we are minding ours. Nevertheless, it gives the festival an extra special something… It’s dope to see some old couple being stopped in their tracks because they were struck by a bboy that suddenly felt the need to get down or a kid that is drawn to the music and drags his parents to a stage to watch a battle, in open air. I felt so many great vibes from everywhere and tried to take it all in. I left my luggage at the main office, got settled and decided that at first I wasn’t going to contact anybody because I loved the idea of just bumping into them. And I did. It was great!
All the madness was gonna start soon so I needed to make sure I had some peace and quiet time to check out the work of “Starving Artist” (Manny Fernandez from The Bronx Boys).
His art was going to be on display at IBE. There were many venues and I really couldn’t find the exhibition. I entered a deserted looking building where only downstairs turned out to be life- because “Storm” was giving a workshop. Although I loved seeing him in action I was still determined to find something else and so I went back up stairs ready to leave the place that died down so I wasn’t prepared for what happened next: Believe it or not- No one other than Salah and Bruce Ykanji had entered and we were walking towards each other. First thing I did was shoot up a little thank you to the Heavens and sensed if the timing was right to approach them. Well it couldn’t have been orchestrated any better. It was a calm environment and they both looked relaxed. After I introduced myself to Salah, he had the courtesy to introduce me to Bruce and we shook hands too, I laughed and said: “Oh –I know who you are” I tell him that 2012 was my first Juste Debout and that it blew my mind. He looks at me with a smile and then replies rather seriously: “Oh yes mine too!”
For me, that was such an endearing and sincere response for the man that is actually responsible for Juste Debout. After we go our separate ways I stop myself in my tracks and I’m thinking: “What am I doing? If there was ever a time to ask him for an interview it would be NOW.”
They were headed towards the workshop so luckily it only took me a second to catch up with him and approached him again to see if he had time and was down to do an interview the next day. He agreed and he made sure I could reach him. I love that he honored our appointment. The rest as they say, is now history.
I want to thank Salah again for taking the time to sit down with me and expressing himself so effortlessly and eloquently.
There were many reasons to go after an interview with Salah. Firstly, you cannot deny his skills, artistry and history in the scene. Secondly, I knew how much it meant for my homie C-Bass and last but definitely not least, in fact – to me the most important: I wanted a one on one with Salah and have him express himself freely and teach the people who are eager to listen.
I always see the bigger picture before I go in and wanted his voice be heard by asking the right questions. I think the most beautiful thing of undertaking these kinds of (seemingly small) projects, is the way the viewers reflect your vision and emotions back to you, once you put it out. I love that, there is no feeling like moving someone with positive energy. It’s why I do what I do.
So thank you to Salah for creating this with me and to IBE for their support and enthusiasm! I’m inspired to make more interviews because there are so many beautiful passionate dancers out there who want to be taught or are ready to pass on their experiences. Please enjoy and share this video for the sake of Hip Hop.
P.s. If you want to what happened to my Starving Artist quest…. I found Manny’s work displayed on the third and final day. I fell even more in love with his Rakim–piece. During the editing process of Salah’s interview I realized that I didn’t want a new beat to accompany the footage- like I initially set out to do. I connected some dots and “Guess who’s back” turned out to be perfect on so many levels.
Alright, alright! Here you go just one more time….!
Our appreciation and thanks goes out to “45-Live” and the entire organization of The Notorious IBE.
Un grand merci a Salah for being so open and willing to share your experiences.
IBEisME. See you next year!
Music: Rakim – Guess who’s back
Youtube Channel SALAH
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Film (c) by Stefani Sarah (NL)
EU representative for Step x Step Dance