February 7, 2012

Breakin' 'n' Enterin'

(This is the image for the OST, but it's the actual documentary being reviewed here)

In my recent Silver Anniversary post I reflected on some of Ice-T’s history in the game. I was specifically looking at his contribution from 25 years ago in 1986 but I also mentioned that he may well have been the first rapper/actor as he’d already had cameo roles in the films Breakin’ (1984), Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984) and Rappin’ (1985).
But then I got an e-mail from my homie Jsta, a fellow blogger over at the Phuk-tha-muthaphukkin-police blog. He hit me up on the documentary Breakin’ ‘n’ Enterin’ (Yep, there are far too many apostrophes in the name, but it is the correct spelling) from 1983 which is Ice-T’s first on-screen appearance. Damn, this is nearly 30 years old!!!

Although Ice-T has a significant amount of screen time in this documentary, and this was my primary reason for checking it out, what’s actually most important here is the excellent cataloguing of the west coast break dance scene in the early 80’s. Ice-T is just one small contribution to this, so I’ll come back to him later.

There are hours of footage that document much of the early Rock Steady Crew battles and many more that catalogue the east coast scene in general, but this is a huge injustice to the west coast who had an equally vibrant, and some might say more varied, scene. That’s where Breakin’ ‘n’ Enterin’ attempts to redress that imbalance.

Although the name of this documentary sounded vaguely familiar to me, upon watching it I realised that I’d never seen it before. Which is regrettable as it’s possibly the best documentation of the early west coast dance scene that exists in the public domain. I would have loved to have seen this when it was released in 1983 as it puts the movies listed above to shame.

The films director Topper Carrew teamed up with Adolfo Quoinones, who is better known to you and me as the legendary locker Shabba Doo, to film this documentary. Shabba Doo clearly knew the dopest dancers and he got contributions from many of them. This results in a good representation of many of the different styles and Shabba pays homage to whom and where those styles came from.

The bizarre thing is, the first part of the film is a collage of retro footage and it’s a good 20 minutes before Shabba Doo begins talking. It’s quite unusual for there to be no introduction, but it gives this documentary a unique feel and before you know it you’re absorbed by the archive footage and accompanying soundtrack and forget that this is a documentary.

Following on from Shabba Doo we see various other dancers like Boogaloo Shrimp and Poppin Taco talking about their styles, their moves, the impact of break dancing on their life, their hood and the positive impact on gang culture etc.

All of this is interspersed by additional footage of various dancers in an assortment of locations. Whilst many of the interviews are very interesting, for me some of the real gems were found within this additional footage. Many of the clips will take you right back to that era by showing you raw footage of people getting down to those early electro sounds in the parks and clubs. There are no rehearsed routines or showboating for the camera here, its just kids doing their thing unaware they’re being captured on film. It’s retro hip hop at its purest.

Other dancers featured in the footage are the Heckle and Jeckle twins, Lollipop, Hugo aka Mr. Smooth and more. Many of these dancers went on to star in the Breakin’ films the following year, which I assume was through their connection with Shabba Doo.
Also keep an eye out for appearances by Egyptian Lover, Chris ‘The Glove’ Taylor, Super AJ and Dupont.
Dupont’s hit Let’s Rock is used throughout the film and becomes the films unofficial theme tune. Speaking of which, if you like the soundtrack it’s available to buy. It was originally available in 1983 on vinyl, but a Japanese label reissued it back in 2008 on CD.

Now, let’s return to Ice-T and his role in this documentary. The Ice man appears throughout the film as a rapper, a dancer and also in interview. It’s kind of weird seeing Ice-T a dancer as this isn’t something he’s ever embraced since becoming a major recording artist, but he’s definitely alright for that time. Forget his performance in the Breakin’ movies (which even he described as “wack”) this is much better.

As a vocalist he shines in various ways. His trademark delivery is exactly what you’d expect, but lyrically his style differs considerably as his rhyme content is more about the different elements of hip hop and more akin to the party style of that era. And in another clip he’s almost speed rapping. But this is the type of stuff he can be proud of.

One of the most intriguing clips has to be at around 52 minutes into the film where he’s being interviewed. I’ve seen many old clips and photos of Ice-T but he’s usually got his hair braided or tied back, or he’s wearing a hat. But in this little clip he’s rocking hair like DJ Quik did in the mid 90’s. It’s a sure sign of how much times have changed!

All in all the combined footage is a great way of reflecting on Ice-T’s history and seeing where he’s come from and how he’s evolved. It’s fair to say that he’s always kept it real and stayed true to the game, which is evidenced in this documentary. How many emcees could you say that about nearly 30 years later?

This documentary was originally a VHS release and I understand that the original run only extended to something like 20 or 25 copies, so an original copy of this is like the Holy Grail, and that’s assuming that one even still exists!

When I started writing this post a few weeks back, there was a full length copy on Megavideo that I'd intended to embed here, but so much has changed so quickly!  Instead, here's a single link download from Rapidshare.  Remember to keep in mind that this is a VHS rip that's nearly 30 years old and the quality reflects that. 

And lastly, a big thanks to Jsta for his help and info on this film, it’s much appreciated bro.

Mike Check.


  1. I'm watching this right as I'm reading your article, it's on YouTube. I found it on accident while I was searching for some b boy documentaries to watch and I must say this makes me want to time travel back to the 80's

  2. Thanks for pointing out the YouTube version. When I posted this the only version available was in 9 parts! I've now updated the post to save others searching for it. Peace Bro.